A T M O S P H E R E / C O C K T A I L S / P A R T I E S / D A T E – N I G H T
Growing up South of the river (Richmond) meant Bunga Bunga was a staple on my nightlife map from the moment I got my shiny new provisional driving licence declaring that I was old enough to drink. When I was in the Army, Bunga Bunga turned into an after party venue au choixe, somewhere unjudgemental to really blow off steam; and at uni we developed an adoration for all things ’80s, cheesey and pop so maintained the monthly-or-so pilgrimage across the bridge. I suppose the versatility of the venue was what kept us coming back for more.
I occasionally heard rumours about the ‘major’ pizzas downstairs, but assumed this was some sort of 2am mirage so never actually ate there.
Nearly ten years later, my best friend Georgia just got married, and for her hen ‘do we gathered at Bunga Bunga’s younger branch in Covent Garden for an immersive The Italian Job experience. And somewhere between the parmesan-covered polenta chips of table-long pizzas (all available gluten-free, I should add), I fell in love.
So I booked a table last Friday at Bunga Bunga Battersea. BBB is one of those restaurants that can be quite literally whatever you want it to be. The bar holds its own thanks to a series of extremely punchy (and pleasingly named – I like the SuperMario Monte. Mainly because it comes in a ceramic Mario of Mario Brothers fame. No idea what’s in it, though..) cocktails, and the buzzy atmosphere means a night of drinking doesn’t feel out of place. Equally, there’s loads of tables for dining. Which, I should add, are all very casual and morph from 2-seaters to tongue-in-cheek banquette-style spreads for parties.
We sat down at 7pm and were faced with an agonising choice: pizza, tapas, or salad? I was with a boy so he largely veto-d the salad idea, but settled on a smorgasbord of just about everything. The charcutterie was a particular favourite.
What Bunga Bunga does really well is fun. The restaurants and bars are completely unpretensious – it’s a crowd-pleaser. I’d say it’s perfect for an early-days date when you might need the occasional distraction – like the Vespa dangling from the ceiling, rustic tins as table decorations, and when I went – bizarrely, since it’s October – there were people floating about dressed as Santa. I’m yet to find out whether they were guests or staff, but tbh whoever let a boring detail get in the way of a good story?