Tenner or Less: Caffe Tropea, WC1


For a charmingly cheapish bite in Bloomsbury head to the park


The exterior of Caffe Tropea

Where: In leafy Russell Square: you know, the tranquil spot in the heart of Bloomsbury just a stone’s throw from the outside-inside joys of Dalloway Terrace.

What: A casual Italian eatery sitting on one level, with a sizeable terrace for al fresco dining on warmer days (remember them?). Run by a Calabrian family, they opened their doors way back in 1981 and have been serving up classics such as arancini, calzone, penne arrabbiata and gelato ever since, plus an array of anglo fare including sarnies and jacket potatoes. They make a mean fry-up too – a twisted version of the British mainstay – using pancetta bacon, Calabrese sausage and cannellini beans.

Why: It’s simple and comforting arctic-weather scran in scenic-yet-central surrounds. On my visit, seafood risotto (£8.45) proves a generous mound of rice in a light tomato sauce: there’s a hint of garlic amidst the juicy prawns, plump mussels and rings of squid.

Don’t: Forget they serve booze too. Sip a negroni or spritz, or (obvs) a glass of Italian vino with your meal.


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Notes: You can hire the space should you wish to throw a parkside bash of some sort. And if you’re an aspiring artist eager to find a place to exhibit, they’re also keen to support local talent.

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Open daily until 6pm (5pm weekends) Russell Square, WC1. More info here.

Main image: Laura Evans


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