It has been more than five years since Bunga Bunga burst on to Battersea’s burgeoning restaurant scene in a riot of drinking, dining, dancing and debauchery inspired by Italy’s party boy former PM Silvio Berlusconi. Several royal sightings and a veritable slew of SW hangovers later, and Bunga Bunga’s founders Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling have brought the party to the West End.
London’s home of ‘dinner and a show’ seems an obvious choice for Bunga’s second coming, but just as Battersea’s bright young things were tittering into their martinis over the tongue-in-cheek humour of the original, so to will the central London crowds who think they’ve seen it all.
Perhaps in recognition that the world now has bigger political fish to fry than a billionaire tycoon who, despite various legal and sexual scandals, was elected to run a country (wait a minute…), Bunga Bunga II instead draws much of its material from another Italian kingpin – The Godfather himself.
Don’s influence is virtually non-existent in the ground level eatery BungaTINI, which is hoping to attract an all-day clientele with breakfast pastries and coffee, foccacias throughout the day, and pizzas, small plates and cocktails in the evening.
Venture beyond the red curtain to the subterranean supper club, however, and you have walked straight into a Corleone family wedding, by way of an industrial meat locker and several actors with varying levels of aptitude for the New York drawl. It is a cavernous space that, despite a couple of empty tables, feels full to bursting thanks to the larger than life antics of boisterous bow-tied waiters and bespangled performers who erupt into song, dance and cries of “Bunga Bunga” about every 20 minutes.
This is not a setting for intimate dinners, rather large raucous groups of friends, colleagues or cousins thrice removed who have no qualms about shouting to make themselves heard and filling their prosecco flutes from the appendage of Michelangelo’s David in miniature.
A £38 six-course set menu of Italian sharing classics has also been designed for this purpose: cured meats, charred peppers, creamy burrata and tomato salad, and of course the pizzas made famous by the Battersea original.
Pizza for the slightly tipsy masses is certainly nothing groundbreaking in this part of town – and Bunga has some competition in branches of Homeslice, Franco Manca, Pizza Pilgrims and Sartori within stumbling distance – but the quality is top notch: a thinner, crispier Roman style crust and toppings on the generous side.
Wash it all down with playful signature cocktails presented as a nod to Italy’s heroes and villains like David’s Punch (spiced rum, Cointreau, cherry liqueur and mulled wine), or work your way through a substantial list of Italian and American classics and watch as the party gets wilder.
All-in-all, an offer you can’t refuse.
167 Drury Lane, WC2B 5PG