Tucked away in the heart of London’s bohemian Shoreditch is a hidden gem that boasts some of the best Italian food and ambiance the city has to offer.
The Grapevine is the masterpiece of owner Giovanna’s lifetime of dedication to Italian food perfection. The location offers a full classic Italian menu and dining experience that rivals any in town, at a price and setting simply not seen amongst the less intimate establishments of the West End.
The venue offers locals a unique and cosy setting combining a full-menued Italian Restaurant and Cafe with the comfortable setting of a full library just a quiet step away from the dining area. Downstairs from the restaurant, the book collection at the Grapevine’s Library boasts a surprisingly wide range of modern and classic bestsellers for patrons to enjoy alone with a cup of barista coffee or for a book club gathering. Looking for the latest James Patterson or Brit Bennett release? Chances are it’s here.
The Grapevine Library
An avid reader will certainly find many of the classic bestsellers here no longer available in modern bookstores. The shelves of this rustic setting include a full array of Lonely Planet travel guides and all-time favourites, rivalling any of the few physical bookstores that still remain following the onset of e-books. The paperbacks are divided into nonfiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, adventure, and everything in between.
The venue is a perfect setting for book clubs, societies, charities, dating meetups, or local artists launching their own written work with a wine or coffee setting. Much more than a fine Italian restaurant, the Grapevine is increasingly a community hub for the seasoned palettes of a London audience.
You will want to become a member to take advantage of the various social events and dining offers each week. These include social events such as Seafood Taster specials, wine pairing, drink and draw social meetups, and host of other creative events unique to The Grapevine Shoreditch. Dating back to the early 1920’s Paris and New York cafe crowds, Drink and Draw is trendy pastime bringing people together in simple yet fun way to complement their meal.
The Grapevine’s Library lets diners bring food and drink in from upstairs, so diners are feel at home. The setting reminds one of vintage Italian glamour in its deep furnishing and low lighting – being elegant without the pretence.
The Roos Estate of South Africa features two wines here – a Blackcurrant and dark cherry Merlot with a fine, graphite tannin composition, as well as distinctive dry Blac Sauvignon with a smooth balanced palate. The Italian wines on feature are a Pasqua Sangiovese from Puglia, holding the aromas of cassis with hints of tar and fresh cherries, and the Fontella Chianti as a well-balanced favourite. The Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc from Australia and New Zealand are also popular amongst social groups.
Italian food is supremely more broad-ranging than it is more typically known for, making it arguably the most popular on earth. The Grapevine captures this in its wide-ranging menu, offering visitors both regional and familiar delicacies to choose from, without the West- End’s price premium. Diners are free to bring food and drink into the library.
Upon entering The Grapevine one is greeting with the aroma of freshly chopped herbs and cured meats balanced off those of aged wood and coffee emanating from the GrapeVine Library. Home-made breakfasts, pastries, salads and roasted coffees by PerkyBlenders offer a daytime space for free hot desking for the student and business traveller, or to browse the library’s shelves for a solid afternoon reading. Chasing the London trend of ‘sharing plates’, the restaurant is best experienced with friends and family with a updated menu featured each week. Not overdone or pretentious, the warmth owners and staff make you feel as family rather than a visiting stranger.
Head Chef Antonio Molo hails from his Naples, famous for its cuisine perfectly balancing the rural and coastal influences of the rich Campania region. The menu features a handful of classic dishes requiring extensive work and preparation: starters include the simple-but- perfect 24-months aged parma ham with Salame Napoli, pistachios mortadella, taleggio, padano cheese and chilly jam, to a London favourite Parmigiana di melanzane using burrata cheese imported from Puglia draped over grilled aubergine topped with balsamic vinegar. Also popular is the Carpaccio di manzo, a beef carpaccio with black truffle shavings, rosemary breadcrumble and lemon dressing, as well as the Polenta e salsiccia, a traditional Italian polenta and sausage with provolone from Monaco. Daily offers include Bruschetta and two apreal sprtiz for £10, or a Salami and cheese board with two glasses of house wine for £15 from 5pm.
The quality of the main course menu is what keeps Library patrons raving in their reviews. You will want to try the 10 hours slow cooked beef ragu’ in a san marzano tomato sauce and rich parmesan cheese, or the eight hours slow cooked white duck ragu’ with porcini mushrooms and crispy speck. A crowd favourite is surely the homemade fresh egg ravioli with pumpkin, mascarpone cheese, and sage, slow cooked for five hours in an amazing san marzano tomato sauce.
Rest assured there’s no shortage of quality or uniqueness behind The Grapevine’s authentic menu, setting, and community. Have you heard?