Luigi's Bar: Bringing Parmesan And Truffle Martinis To Shoreditch

Luigi's Bar ★★★★☆

Luigi's Bar: Bringing Parmesan And Truffle Martinis To Shoreditch Luigi's Bar 4
Truffle oil martini with a parmesan twist. Photo by Lydia Manch.

The ground-floor eatery at Shoreditch's Forge + Co. has a new look. A whole new identity, actually.

By day: Spelzini, a mild-mannered cafe and co-working space. By night: Luigi's Bar, candlelit and cocktail-slinging.

Northern Italian-slanted, the snack menu's a poetic litany of salt and fats and cured meats: all the foods you most want with a vermouth, basically, and there's a nine-strong vermouth list to go with it. So far, so trad.

The signature cocktail list is a bit less purist, though apparently the negroni/spritz classics are all to be had for the asking. But it's worth letting yourself be led astray by the Buona Sarah, a blend of Cynar, grappa and rosemary, the Cynar's artichoky bitterness lengthened into something smoother and gently earthy. The main draw from their signature drinks has to be the truffle and olive martini, though — a gin martini with a little puddle of fiercely-perfumed truffle oil pooling on top, and a parmesan twist garnishing the edge.

The martini's a beautiful, muscular slap of umami on the nose, one that'll drop it very firmly in love-it-or-hate-it territory. The smell and silkier-than-usual texture are both punching harder than the taste, which is pretty mellow by comparison.  

Buona Sarah: Cynar, grappa and rosemary. Photo by Lydia Manch

Ligurian snacks aside, the Luigi's take on aperitivo culture isn't a direct import from Italy. You could rack up a decent spend here on the antipasti and little stomach-lining spuntini that tend to come in large quantities and for free with your aperitivi in the motherland. But this is still one of the closer (and nicer) versions we've found in London. Cocktails and snack menus are both strong — hero food moment being the way the anchovies on toast come in gloriously similar proportions of anchovy:butter:bread. And by dint of some big curtains, candlelight and a good, nostalgic soundtrack these guys have managed to make Luigi's by night feel genuinely distinct from your co-working spot by day.

Spelzini and Luigi's Bar, 154-158 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU.

Last Updated 26 November 2019