Viva Verdi – A Symphony of Flavours on the South Bank

Set on Canvey Street, (which I see fast becoming everyone’s new favourite alfresco dining destination), just behind the Tate Modern, is Viva Verdi Prosciutto and Wine Bar. With its dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive glass deli and hanging hunks of cured and dry meats, to look at the place, you could almost mistake it for a very sexy Salumeria. Well that, my dears, is the whole concept. And it works…

A small group of Italians decided that what the modern, sophisticated and discerning Londoner (and if ever you were to find such a Londoner it would be just off the South Bank) really wants is a place to drink Italian wine and eat authentic Italian meats and cheeses in a stylish setting – while also having the option to take away its tongue-twirling produce.

This is not the kind of place you book a table at for a three-course sit down meal (although hot dishes of pasta are available). Oh no. It’s the kind of place you come to set the world to rights over a bottle of very good Prosecco and chow down on some darn good dried pig.

Designed by Maria-Sole Cortese, whose background is in theatre set design, the interior is spacious and slick – and dominated by an impressive, colour-changing, rose-like chandelier, which is like something from Phantom of the Opera (funny that, as it happens to be crafted by scenic sculptor Stephen Pyle).

On our visit it was the sprawling 84-seat alfresco area that beckoned in the balmy heat of the London night. ‘And what of the food?’ I hear you caw like rabid pigeons, if such things exist. Well, as you’d expect from somewhere that imports fresh ingredients from Parma each week and has one of Italy’s rarest hams: Culatello (they say it matures on the foggy banks of the Po River) is on the menu – and it’s pretty damn good.

We enjoyed a tasting plate of meats, with hams and salamis of the highest quality – all laid out on a platter with the best parmesan I’ve ever tasted in my life (sweet, acidic, creamy and crumbling all at once). I’m a massive fan of Parma ham, but I have never, ever tasted anything that comes close to this – even, I must say in Italy. It was light, smoky, salty and melting, and complimented no end by the assortment of condiments which accompanied it. We’re not talking about brown sauce or ketchup – but aubergine flesh in oil, marinated peppers and almost liquid Gorgonzola.

Viva Verdi is all about quality over quantity, so go there to taste something special rather than to satiate a ferocious appetite, and let their incredibly friendly and passionate staff guide you through the menu.

Viva Verdi Prosciutto & Wine Bar
Open 11.00am to 11.00pm
Monday through Friday

6 Canvey Street
South Bank

Tel: 02079286867
email: vivaverdiltd@gmail.com

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