Bell Pesto Cafè review: “If I had a Christmas party to organize, I would book this authentic little Italian pronto”

A few years ago, when I was working in Soho, London, it was my job to organize the office Christmas party. My boss was notoriously stingy, and an initial suggestion that he bring everyone to Alastair Little on Frith Street met with the lack of enthusiasm I should have expected. We ended up going to the Pollo Bar on Old Compton Street, a Spanish restaurant where delicious main courses cost five dollars and the wine was both cheap and drinkable. The party was a success.

The first Christmas emails started to arrive and I thought about where I would choose if I found myself in this role of party planner on a budget again. I think I might have found the answer on James’s Street, where an under the radar Italian restaurant turns out to be a gem.

I first spotted a menu from Bell Pesto Cafè on Twitter. The cafe, near St James’s Hospital, has a busy daily activity, serving classic Italian dishes such as fresh pesto pasta (both made on site), slice pizzas and a good porchetta, and offers a different regional Italian menu each month, serving dinner from Thursday to Sunday. Last month the dishes came from Emilia Romagna and the September menu is from the Marche, located between the Apennines and the Adriatic. The dish that made me sit down and pay particular attention was Crostone con Trippe – yes, that’s beef tripe. If the folks at Bell Pesto were brave enough to serve guts, they were worth a visit.

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