(Note 03/09/2017: They upped their prices substantially and unfortunately we haven’t been back here since. The pizzas are most likely still as good as they were, but spending around 14€ for a pizza (the average pizza price there these days) is just not an option for us. We feel that this place is just too much a sign of the gentrified times.)
It really is no secret that finding a good pizza in Lisbon can be as challenging as building the bloody wood fired oven yourself without your whole house being reduced to ashes afterwards. Our favourite pizza would be the kind that is a close brethren of the Napolitan pizza: thin, from the ashes blackened crust with crispy air pockets, a slightly acidic, vibrant tomato sauce and high quality buffalo mozzarella. Basil leaves are optional, but hey, this is Lisbon, we understand. If this is what you’re looking for, we reckon you should let In bocca al lupo surprise you.
A great sign of course is the wood fired oven which is very strategically placed in the corner of the dining room, boarded off with glass from the other tables. Should the conversation turn out to be boring or your guest would prefer the screen of his/her smartphone to your undoubtedly lovely company, then you still could while away a substantial part of your meal watching a couple of guys making pizza on a flour-covered board, and let’s be honest, there are far worse things than that.
There are a lot of things In bocca al lupo gets right: the wine is all ethically correct, small producers, biological, blablabla, but most importantly, some of the best wine you’re likely to find in any of the surrounding restaurants of Praça dos Flores. You also have a select choice of great artisanal Portuguese beers and they pride themselves in serving yeast-less pizzas which upon request can even be made gluten-free with organic vegetables and ingredients. Most importantly however, it tastes damn fine.
So okay, some of the appetizers are a bit too simple for their own good: lovely as a courgette carpaccio might be in a vegetable-anaemic city like Lisbon, 4.50€ is all things considered a bit expensive for some slices of raw courgette in a very simple olive oil dressing. Thankfully, the burrata di bufala is much better and the quality of the cheese comes through, massively. Whether or not it warrants the 7.50€ entry price, is up to you to decide. Granted, it’s a bit luxurious, but there’s really no other restaurant in Lisbon which could serve you something quite like this.
However, to cut to the chase, it’s the pizza which is the main attraction here. Much more thin than a regular Napolitan pizza (closer to a Roman-styled pizza) with a crispy crust and a lovely smoky flavour in the dough, it’s a very delicate base for the super zingy fresh tomato sauce to go on top. Or the lovely homemade pesto sauce.
When it comes to toppings, it’s all very sensible really: tomatoes, olives, grilled vegetables, high quality mozzarella, spinach, anchovy, soft tofu… Wait, what, soft tofu, on a pizza? For realz? Yep. And it tastes damn fine: the silky, delicate tofu on top of the tomato sauce is a combination which we’d never thought we’d develop a craving for, but damn if we wouldn’t eat it again every time we come back to In bocca al lupo. Recently, they have also started serving fresh pasta, but we haven’t tried that yet, although we’d be incredibly surprised if the end result would be a disappointment.
Moving on to dessert, there’s really one star hero here, which is the soft tofu chocolate mousse. I’m sure many Italian cooks would throw a pasta machine across the room upon seeing this strange creature included on the menu of any traditional Italian restaurant, but for them we only have one advice: grow a pair and live a little. This is totally so much more awesome than you might ever expect it to be. Whatever the mousse might lack in fluffiness, it makes up for in spades with flavour: deep, rich, sumptuous, smooth chocolate gives way to a spicy, citrusy finish. Unless you have no interest in living well. In which case, why are you reading this blog anyway?
Yes, In bocca al lupo has everything you could want from a good restaurant: a good balance between price-value, incredibly lovely, considerate staff and food which at the same time is so simple but so unique and personal at the same time. Sometimes you just know whether a restaurant is good or not when you first enter. Upon seeing the wood-fired oven, our gut feeling was that In bocca al lupo was going to be good, and it succeeded pretty much all expectations. If you’re looking for traditional Italian food, this might not be the best place for you, but an open mind will help you along nicely. Not. To. Miss.
(Nout Van Den Neste)
Opening hours: Wed-Sun: 19:30-23:30, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Address: R. Manuel Bernardes 5A, 1200-192 Lisboa
Phone Number: +351 21 390 0582