Review | Spuntino at Wapping Wharf
Spuntino, meaning "snack" in Italian, serves up ‘small plates’ such as bacon devilled eggs, mac & cheese and classic hamburgers from atop their prime shipping container perch.
Italian-influenced New York comfort food in the perfect setting. The intensity of Wapping Wharf has been taken up several notches with the arrival of Cargo 2. A league of extraordinary businesses that you just have to remind yourself sat upon a very ordinary patch of commercial wasteland not too long ago.
I was curious that Spuntino was just a business riding on the crest of popularity. A quick glance at the menu revealed familiarity in the form of burgers and hot dogs. A safe bet. A calculated business decision for the location. But signature items - bacon devilled eggs, eggplant chips, and ‘side-lobster’ provide the very deliberate style to the small but well-formed selection.
The menu itself, looking like it’s been printed by a typewriter but almost certainly designed with purposeful imperfection on the screen of a glowing iMac. That deliberate identity is comforting and casual - something mirrored in the food itself.
I opted for the buttermilk fried chicken burger. The batter was a work of art. The Marla Singer burger, which although in some respects unremarkable, is still the best burger I’ve had from a restaurant that doesn’t solely specialise in meat and bread. That may be quite a niche sub-genre of burger, but then that’s the choice you get in Bristol. I don’t often dedicate wordcount to buns, but Spuntino’s are pillowy soft. I want to construct a castle from them and enact a private gluten siege.
The mac & cheese delayed proceedings, warranting a warning from our server. It was worth the wait. The superior pasta really made it, unlike pre-made vats that sit at other restaurants, this was the real deal. Lobster can be added for an additional cost, but it’s not needed. Lobster is very rarely ‘needed’ I suppose.
The drinks took a pleasing amount of time to arrive, the art of cocktail making very much part of the experience with both the bar and kitchen exposed for all to see.
A personal irk, is the incessant use of blue and white enamel bowls in restaurants. Functional they may be, but such is their abundance in other restaurants and bars that they provide something of a disservice to the quality that Spuntino serves up.
Spuntino is a great addition to the area, it feels balanced. It feels like a place you’d pop along to with friends late afternoon to share a few plates. The spontaneous nature it encourages though is a lie - as judging by it’s popularity, you’re not likely to get a table anytime soon without booking!