Buying into the notoriety of ex-Italian leader Berlusconi, Bunga Bunga follows in the footsteps of Maggie's, the eighties themed venue by the same owners. Channelling the king of brazened-out sleaze, and every tongue in cheek take on Italiana going, Bunga Bunga is certainly a stand out offering in Londons bar scene.
Bunga Bunga boasts a great Karaoke room, making the perfect party destination.
Decor and Ambience
Bringing together a restaurant, bar, club and karaoke, Bunga Bunga makes an attempt to offer everything. As such, the space varies wildly, from the sleek, simple and star-lit L'Osservatorio, to the out and out kitsch and disco ball-lit dance floor of the Eurovision room. Subtle is not a word found in Bunga Bunga's Italian phrase book. With barman dressed as gondoliers, prices in Lira and Super Mario strumming Lady Gaga tunes on the ukele, this concept pushes for no holds barred kitsch. The result is fun and full of whimsy. Even so, the endless attempts to amuse, like the endlessly bantering bar-staff, can be a little tiring.
Clients and Atmosphere
Daylight hours operate much like a gastro-pub, and the atmosphere is bustling but calm. Evenings, on the other hand, come alive with the party crowd from across the bridge in Chelsea. Blonde, well-heeled and wearing turned-up collars; the clientele at Bunga Bunga can sometimes resemble an episode of Made in Chelsea. In fact, the eagle-eyed may spot a few cast members, lurking in the dark recesses of the Eurovision room.
Bunga Bunga's Italian influences are noticable throughout the bar and Pizzeria
Serving a large selection of antipasti (ideal for small plate sharing), as well as pizza, Bunga Bunga is open for lunch, dinner, and onwards into the evening. Antipasti range from £2.00 for staples such as home baked focaccia and polenta chips, to £6.50 for large (but not exceptional) servings of parmigiana di melanzane (baked aubergine) and beef carpaccio. Pizzas are reasonably priced, and despite the comic names (try the âJulius Cheeserâ or âArtichoke Heart Stealerâ), the selection is fairly classic.
The drinks list is extensive, a little expensive, and offers quite an insight into the spirit of Bunga Bunga. Beer and wine are available, but the choice is far outstripped by the number of spirits by the bottle or adigestivo liquors on offer. For example, the bar offers just three bottled beers (Peroni, Estrella and Heineken at approximately £5 each) and none on tap, compared with almost thirty adigestivo liquors ranging from £7-20 for a single measure. The emphasis is on cocktails, which vary wildly both in price (£6.50-£16) and in how well price expectations are met. On offer, are several Italian classics, including a decent negroni and spritz with aperol or campari. There are many more original cocktails, featuring a few inventive uses of Italian ingredients. Try the Parma ham infused vodka in the Prosciutto e Melone (£8), or the Berlusconi Bellini (£7.50), a pear Bellini with Asian aromatics.
Bunga Bunga has an extensive range of international wines, beers and cocktails
Bunga Bunga certainly takes its cues from Berlusconi. It's a little silly and works bad taste with bravado. If, however, you want to paint the town in tawdry tones of green, white and red, there's really no other option.
Budget: Happily Affordable
Pre-designs: Chill with your mates, fun first date, fun time party night
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WORDS BY PENELOPE WALSH