Dine in design: Bacaro, Roman Road

5/16/2017 12:51:00 pm Unknown 0 Comments

Today I'm serving up the second in my restaurant design series – checking out fab restaurants that showcase great interior design (if you missed the first one, read it here). This time it's a trendy little Italian on Roman Road called Bacaro. The laid-back, retro interior has been pulled together using locally made furniture and fittings wherever possible, and it's a relaxed, sociable treat!

Bacaro opened just over a year ago in this eclectic part of old East London. Roman Road runs for around a mile between Bow and Bethnal Green, and maintains its community feel with butchers and bakers, artists and pie & mash shops – as well as a market 3 times a week. Bacaro occupies a perfect little spot at number 387, next door to acclaimed plasticine (yes, the kids-play-stuff) artist, Henry Hudson.


Owners Krysia and Marco Barbuti are residents of East London themselves. Krysia trained originally as a chef (in classic French cookery) and Marco hails from Emilia-Romagna, a food hub in Northern Italy. They ran a cafe in Wanstead for a few years, but dreamt of opening their own restaurant. On the hunt for the right location for their new venture, they sought out a non-commercial high-street with a vibrant demographic. Having worked at Aesop for a few years, Krysia knew this part of town well and liked the mix of small businesses and independent shops (not to mention more affordable rent than the likes of Hackney). The proximity to Victoria Park and the young, creative residents (mixed with a few old East End characters) seemed perfect for a modern Italian.


The name Bacaro is a venetian term for a winebar where you can eat, whilst Bacchus was the Roman god of wine…appropriately for Roman Road! Krysia explained that the aim was very much to create a sociable, easy-going atmosphere where friends can meet, socialise and experience great food and wine. The restaurant interior design had to support this by creating the right informal but stylish environment. The owners were also very keen to source as much as possible in the local area, supporting other small businesses.


When Krysia and Marco pulled up the flooring they revealed old terracotta tiles beneath, which gives a solid, earthy base to the design. The patterned, encaustic cement wall tiles were then added to replicate some of the design elements of the floor, and help to give the restaurant a relaxed feel. The chipped-away effect works well with the painted brick walls (although Krysia admits this was largely because they couldn't actually get all of the plaster off!) Whatever the reason, it works.  The encaustic cement tiles were supplied by Bert & May, with whom Krysia had worked in her previous job at Aesop. A local East End firm, Bert & May have a reputation for beautiful, handmade interiors – their Vyner Street showroom is well worth a look for some reclaimed/industrial/textural inspiration.


The bar is made from distressed wood planks, arranged in a chevron pattern that, again, references the graphic tiles. It's a little bit rustic, a little bit hip – and can seat a fair few customers too! The tables meanwhile came from an old Italian restaurant in the city, once owned by a friend.  Krysia tells me that they have plans to focus even more on this bar area, creating an area for cocktails and bar food with a new cocktail menu. Sounds good to me!


The very funky chairs are by Olivia Scott Taylor designs, having been spotted by the couple's web designer in Liberty. Krysia approached the company to supply the restaurant and managed to strike a deal for their first destination in East London. They're a retro design, based on old school chairs, and are manufactured entirely in the UK. Most of the chairs were made on site, with every 4th one having hand-painted stripes that give them a real 'Italian Job' vibe. Somehow they just feel very on brand for Bacaro.

Zoe from Muck n Brass in Brockley made the cabinet at the back. She specialises in taking old furniture and turning it into something new – upcycling done very, very well.


The statement chandeliers are one of the only elements of the interior design not sourced locally. Kryisa and Marco took a risk and had them imported, without having seen them. It's a risk that worked out, as they make a real impact and can be seen from all areas of the restaurant as well as from the street outside. They are complemented by simpler lights over the bar, with retro filament bulbs that help to define the area.

Of course every table has candles, for ambience too. Angular, black wire tea-lights contrast with tactile himalayan salt candles from Hide & Seek London – creating a lovely warm glow.


And finally, I really ought to mention the food (it is a restaurant after all!) With two foodies at the helm, it's not surprising that the food is top notch. The intention was to produce what Krysia describes as, 'evolved Italian cuisine,' not classical Italian. That's why you won't find pizza or lasagne on the menu, but there is fabulous shellfish, slow-roasted meats and silky mozzarella.

The menu changes regularly, and is influenced by the couple's travels (a recent trip to Poland resulting in the vodka pasta main). The focus is very much on quality ingredients, with a story behind each dish. Sourcing artisanal, seasonal produce from across the UK and Italy is a passion.

A lot of thought has gone into the wine list too – with a Marco keen to source from small producers. It's the perfect accompaniment to the food, or good enough to drink on its own.


So, a year on from the launch of Bacaro, I asked Krysia what is next. She explained that they plan to expand the cocktail menu and might well be looking for another premises. But they won't be rushed, it has to be the right venue (and I'm pleased to say it will also be in East London). Check out the latest menu, or book your table here. Buon appetito!

Images 1-5 Carole Poirot, 6-7 Alex Hadaya.