Inspired by the food enjoyed by locals on the back streets and waterways of Venice, Polpo offers deliciously simple and unfussy Italian recipes that can be recreated at home without breaking the bank. Who could say no to that?

Following the same successful philosophy that saw people flock to the first Polpo bàcaro in Soho – no nonsense dishes full of flavour and the spirit of Venice – this cookbook features easy to follow steps and recipes with readily accessible ingredients that will have you itching to get the pans out straight away to see if you can knock up a bit of authentic Italy grub. And with 140 delicious recipes to choose from, ranging from butternut risotto to glasses of bright orange spirtz, there are more than enough options to keep you inspired to come back and experiment with some more Venetian treats.


vsco_0Practicality aside, a large part of what makes Polpo so great, is that compared to other cookbooks that I own, this book is feast for the eyes, not just the stomach. A lot of thought has clearly been put into the production of Polpo, with a cleverly stitched spine that enables the book to lie flat and stunning photography and illustrations throughout that really inspires you to a. get cooking, and b. bump Venice a few places up the travel list. Even if this book does join the lonely ranks of the other neglected cookbooks in your kitchen, the gorgeous design will mean that it will at the very least make a beautiful addition to your bookshelf.


As well as being an inspiring cookbook, Polpo also functions as an informative travel book, chronicling Russell Norman’s culinary journey through the back street wine bars and off the beaten track bacari that were the inspiration behind the books recipes, giving us a chance to experience the authentic flavours of the regions in our own kitchens.



“One particular visit in April 2008, I was eating a warm octopus salad at the bar of Alla Vedova in Cannaregio. I was thinking about the Italian word for octopus, polpo, and musing that it would be a fun name for a restaurant.”




vsco_0-1These observations and stories begin to take the form of an unabashed love letter to Venice, beautifully brought to life by the photography of Jenny Zarins. Russell’s insights into the working class bars and restaurants of Venice make for interesting reading and his obvious enthusiasm for the flavours and food of the region quickly rubs off in line with a growling and demanding stomach. The meatball, or polpette, recipe alone is worth a purchase. “A good meatball is a sublime thing.” We hear you Russell.

With a number of restaurant’s in London, once you’ve had a go yourself it’s tempting to head down and compare your efforts to the real thing, but be warned, they are unsurprisingly very popular and don’t take bookings for evenings. But when the food is this good who minds waiting a little longer to eat?

“No Pizza. No Lasagne. No Directions”

About The Author

Admirer of classic style and design with an unhealthy obsession for good coffee.

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