Bunga Bunga | Restaurant review
CIAO! If you are planning to visit Italy soon, or you’re a homesick Italian who dreams of good Italian food, then don’t fly to the Bel Paese (Italy) just yet.
If there is an easy and hilarious way of immersing yourself into Italian traditions in London, then it’s Bunga Bunga, a bar, pizzeria and karaoke space in south London.
The fact that it is so obviously trying to poke fun at the politics of Italy, yet doing so in a genuinely funny way, makes going so good.
The term Bunga Bunga, popular thanks to the Berlusconi-Ruby scandal, is a perfect name for a place that plays on Italian clichés.
Il Cavaliere (Silvio Berlusconi) is continuously and ironically alluded to in pictures all over the place; in the names of drinks, and of course in the name of the restaurant itself.
You can also find his smiling face as the sign on the door of the men’s toilets. And that is not including the drinks mugs, which have an added twist of humour to them.
Before ordering dinner, our waiter for the night, Davide from Milan, showed us the special glasses where shared drinks are generally served.
They are shaped as famous Italian icons, like the Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the horse’s head.
The most brilliant are Berlusconi’s head and Super Mario Monti, the new Italian prime minister dressed like the video game character, Super Mario. On the outside, Bunga Bunga has red-and-white striped awnings that follow the traditional Italian Ristorante and Trattoria style.
As soon as you walk in, the first thing that catches your attention is the gondola-shaped bar and a beautiful image of the Venice canal on the wall behind it. One of the most beautiful and evocative of the Italian cities, and one of the most famous among tourists, the picture mixes with the atmosphere.
The bartenders’ uniforms also respect the Venetian tradition. They are dressed as gondoliers, with striped T-shirts and red neckerchiefs. The staff are friendly, welcoming you, walking you to the table and take care of your jackets.
Ready to learn Italian?
The drinks menu is designed like a newspaper, Gazzetta del Bunga Bunga, and the drinks have funny names: Ruby’s Revenge, Premier Martini and Berlusconi Bellini are just some examples.
At the bottom of the page, a small section called Let’s Speak Italian is dedicated to learning the language. A nice touch to the general feel of the place.
“Siete pronti ad imparare l’Italiano?“ (“ready to learn Italian?”), Bunga Bunga customers can also learn it in the toilet, where a recorded voice teaches the basics in understanding of the language.
For starters, we order a Bunga Prosecco and a glass of Nero d’Avola, together with mixed olives and home baked focaccia. Everything tastes great, and it is a pleasure to eat authentic Italian focaccia in London. Pizza is the main course: Italian Stallion and Italy’s fun-guy are the ones we choose.
The tray is placed on the table leaning on two tomato tins. The pizza has a thin base, it is very light, delicious and satisfying.
For dessert, cream and chocolate gelato, molto buono! Dinner for two with starters, dessert and a glass of wine costs about £50, which was very affordable and reasonable.
Dinner comes with a singer entertaining diners with karaoke on the stage next to the bar, and the wall behind it has a large picture depicting the Colosseum.
Before leaving, we take a tour of the other rooms in Bunga Bunga. A beautiful staircase, decorated with images from Sistine Chapel, leads to L’Osservatorio and to the Eurovision.
These areas are open from Thursday to Sunday as clubs, and can also be rented for private parties.
Bunga Bunga is a bright idea, and the perfect experience for good Italian food. It is also the perfect atmosphere and a genuine laugh on the clichés that make Italians known abroad. Ci vediamo al Bunga Bunga!