by Immy Smith
As its name suggests, Passione Vino wears its love for wine on its sleeve.
Founded by Luca Dusi, an Italian wine aficionado who has a firmly-rooted status within London’s hospitality scene, Passione Vino first launched in 2003. Initially specialising in importing wines, Dusi saw an opportunity to open a shop which in turn expanded to what Passione Vino is today; a hybrid, shop-cum-wine bar with private rooms and plenty of Italian spirit.
From the street, Passione Vino’s sky-blue, traditional frontage is a welcome contrast to the high rises and glinting glass of Shoreditch’s skyline. Even from first impressions, it’s easy to sense that it’s eclectic, it’s firm in its identity and like any good wine, it draws you in for more.
Inside, black-and-white tiled flooring is mixed with densely, floral wallpaper. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The vibe is inviting with a splash of kitsch, like stepping into a distant relative’s front room where the usual collection of porcelain figurines has been replaced with bottles of biodynamic wine, each strung with a neatly written label around their necks.
The ground floor doubles up as a bar and a wine shop. There’s no menu or a “wines by the glass” list – you’re more likely to have an open double magnum or maybe a “wine of the week” – but essentially, you’ll drink whatever the Dusi and his team think you might enjoy.
To find a tipple that’s to your tastes, Dusi and his team will ask a series of questions, squeezing out as much detail from guests as possible to identify the right wine. There are many variables to consider; guests’ moods, what flavours do they tend to lean towards? Who are they drinking with? Are they having a glass alone or settling in for an evening with friends? And critically – what are they eating?
Yes, as well as artisanal Italian wines, there’s delicious food to match. The regularly changing menu reads like a Greatest Hits of Italian cooking; a tangled looking Frittata Di Spaghetti, lasagne complete with a crispy top, silken carbonara and oozing caponata, alongside sharing platters of cured meats and cheeses — all Italian of course.
Upstairs, there are three private rooms decorated in the same vein as the ground floor; picture a cabinet of curiosities merged with a Venetian nonna’s townhouse. It’s irrefutably Italian in its attitude and there’s an almost tangible warmth to Dusi and his team’s open-armed hospitality.
Could be the wine, though.
NOTE: Passione Vino is open for business Mon-Fri 2pm-10pm. You can find out more, and book, HERE.
Passione Vino | 85 Leonard St, London EC2A 4QS
Have a passione for vino? Check out our favourite London wine bars
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