Since returning from Venice last month, it’s been on my mind constantly. The water, the weather, the Aperol and mainly the food. I had some of my favourite meals from my trip to Italy there, including a lunch that will stay with me forever (see here) . In Venice, the streets are studded with small wine bars, called Bacari. They serve small mouth size bites of food with wine or Aperol Spritz. For someone who loves tapas and sharing style plates, this was perfect for me. These bites of food are called cichèti and that’s where I stumbled into Polpo.
Polpo opened in London in 2009 and has since opened up way more restaurants, including this one in Brighton. It’s located on my favourite street, in between the theatres and bars. I feel like this is what Brighton has been calling out for. There’s an abundance of pizza restaurants and chain-y basic Italians but nothing as authentic and slightly niche as Polpo. It’s RIGHT up my street.
The interior is very authentic, simple and elegant. It has a homemade vibe without being too rustic. Cosy corners and pretty lighting make for a great ambience, day or night.
We started with a spritz. The drink of my year, I’m half Aperol at this point. Served simply in a tumbler with ice, a slice and an olive- it went down a treat. When I went to Venice, my friend Milly and I found this perfect spot off the beaten track and they served Olives in their Aperol Spritz’s so this drink took me back.
To start, we each had a Cinceti. These are usually bought out with your drinks in Italy, eaten quickly on the move. Here, however, they made for the perfect starter. I, of COURSE, went for arancini. My new favourite dish which has made it into my ‘last meal on earth’ line up. These ones were n’duja (a spicy sausage) with mozzarella (£4.20). The perfect amount of spice for me and the perfect gooey-crispy balance. My dining partner Luke had the parmesan and chilli crocchette (£4) and rated it highly.
The perfect sized snack to pair alongside your Aperol in the afternoon. Sitting outside Polpo was lovely on this day and would be an amazing place to come pre-theatre or to discuss your post-theatre opinions.
For a main dish I went for the crab and chilli linguine (£9.80) which will always be my choice from a menu. I really appreciated the size of this dish; a demure portion of high-quality fresh pasta and delicious sauce as opposed to a massive fuck off plate of average food. Quality over quantity- how they did it in Venice.
The creamy sauce was perfect, not too spicy and just the right amount of crab. Can’t stand a stingy crab dish. I would absolutely recommend going to try this, it doesn’t come better.
They offer Pizzette as well, a smaller pizza dish. Luke went for the special one- ham and jalapenos. Served on a rich tomato and cheese base, it was the perfect size along with a cinceti. I tried a slice and really enjoyed it and could see myself eating a slice alongside a canal. (if only)
Overall I really enjoyed my meal here. The staff as well are really kind and welcoming. I came here a few weeks previous for a cocktail event and I could have sat at the bar all night. In the evening it has such a welcoming vibe and it’s a great little hub in the centre of Brighton. Thanks so much to Polpo and Tonic PR for having us- I’ll be back fo’ sure.