Enjoy a Celebration of All Things Mozzarella at Obicà St Paul’s

Enjoy a Celebration of All Things Mozzarella at Obicà

Simon Wittenberg heads to the Obicà Mozzarella Bar in London for a touch of cheese and some well-known Italian delicacies from the new summer menu.

Obicà, which means “right before your eyes” in a Neapolitan dialect (i.e. that from the Italian city of Naples), became the world’s first-ever Mozzarella Bar when this eatery debuted in Rome nearly twenty years ago in 2004.

In just under two decades of being in business, the Obicà success story is clear thanks to the group now boasting 23 restaurants in five different countries across the globe, spanning the USA and Japan, Portugal and the UK, and of course, Italy.

There are actually three Obicà locations in London, namely in Soho’s Poland Street, Canary Wharf, and in St Paul’s – the subject of our visit.

Situated at the base of what looks like an office block in a fairly non-descript building and opened in 2016, Obicà St Paul’s on Limeburner Lane is located a few steps away from the City Thameslink mainline station and the famous and historic St Paul’s cathedral.

The entrance to the restaurant

This eatery houses around 120 visitors in one sitting across small tables and alcoves, whilst there is also a sizeable outdoor terrace to accommodate al fresco dining when the British weather allows.

The seating inside the restaurant

The décor is sleek, modern, and airy, with a large open bar running down the side, furnished with suspended bottles and glasses. This doubles up as the area where the chefs prepare the Mozzarella and Burrata-based starters. Furthermore, in the far corner is a large copper pizza oven for those opting for one of the ten varieties on offer here.

We visited for lunch at 1:00 pm on a Friday (this restaurant is only open during the week due to its city location), and it was already quite full. It was clear that Obicà St Paul’s largely attracts the office crowd from the surrounding area rather than being a tourist hotspot – also demonstrated by the fact that, by 2.30 pm, this eatery was pretty much deserted as people ventured back to work for the remainder of the afternoon.

A top view of some of the restaurant's classic dishes

The menu at Obicà is pretty extensive and opens with a selection of different takes on Mozzarella and Burrata from the Mozzarella Bar, which varies from plain and simple to ricotta and Stracciatella, before continuing with the small plates and “Lievitati” (meaning “leavened” in Italian).

The Burrata dish with black olives, tomato and truffle

I settled on a portion of Burrata on its own (£10.50), which was accompanied by a few black olives and some baby tomato halves. Unfortunately, although creamy, it had a bitter tinge to it, which signalled that it was past its prime and was not as fresh as it should have been at the point of being served.

Even when doused with a drop of rich olive oil and thick balsamic vinegar, this could not mask what was a relatively uncomfortable taste, thereby making what should have been a nice opener hard to finish.

The “Small Plates” part of the menu spans meat, fish and vegan options, plus subtle hints of Italian cheese throughout this section. Having already run out of my preferred choice of the tomato tartare, I decided to try the Scottish smoked salmon, which was described on the menu as coming with fennel and orange (£15).

The modern sleek interior with shelves filled with wine bottles by the tables

Arriving half an hour after we sat down, the reality was a couple of slices of said salmon with a minuscule piece of orange and a sprinkling of salty and chewy dried capers (that tasted more like anchovies), sitting on a mound of chopped pieces of fennel, which overpowered this dish, as there was just too much of it.

Sliced ham with a selection of saucesWith this vegetable being quite powerful in flavour, this was not a pleasant entrée, seeing as that the salmon should have been the dominant ingredient to get value for money here and in keeping with the description of this starter.

Accompanied by a rather sparsely-populated bread basket for £4.50 and some nicely-prepared Bruschetta topped with tomatoes (£11), my other half went for the more successful Sicilian aubergine caponata (£8.50), which was one of the standout dishes during our visit to Obicà. Apart from the aforementioned aubergine, there were pine nuts, pieces of olive, and basil, which made for a really nice entrée.

When it came to the mains, I headed for the aubergine parmigiana (£15), which was a relatively simple composition garnished with some parmesan cheese and not the expected piping, almost too-hot-to-touch dish.

My wife chose the Italian chicken breast (£19), served on a bed of potatoes, and decorated with a sprig of rosemary. Although the meat itself was a touch dry, it was flavoursome and relatively filling, so it was enjoyed overall. Other dishes on the menu for this course include a range of salads, various meats, burgers, and mussels.

Bowls and plates of finger food

For young eaters, there’s not a separate kids menu, but there is enough choice to please small appetites. Our little one enjoyed a generous portion of large al dente Schiaffoni pasta tubes with a delicious organic tomato sauce (minus the mozzarella), priced at £14.50, and it proved a veritable success – demonstrated by the clear bowl returned to our hosts.

Dessert or “Dolci” at the base of the menu offers a small selection of nine different dishes to satisfy a sweet tooth. We chose the fresh fruit salad that was nicely composed of the likes of apple, pineapple and kiwi (£7.50), a refreshing deep purple-coloured forest fruit sorbet (£7.50) in a tall glass with a sprinkling of summer fruits and icing sugar, plus a soup bowl of Tiramisu with plenty of cocoa powder, (£7.50).

The latter was a large portion with a rich coffee base but would have been more inviting and served as a traditional square rather than being quite sloppy in consistency.

The open kitchen area inside the restaurant

In summary…
In our opinion, Obicà appears to be a good concept on paper, but it was devoid of the warmth synonymous with Italian hospitality to make this a memorable experience for the right reasons.

The service was also relatively slow, and it seemed as if the focus was on getting the food out onto tables at the expense of good quality and fresh ingredients that you would readily find in Italy. Plus, with loud music and a full restaurant, this meant being able to have a conversation and communicating with our hosts just to order food was tricky.

For a meal that costs the equivalent of around £120 without any alcoholic beverages, this is a restaurant that unfortunately leaves you a little underwhelmed without the urge to return any time soon. It’s a shame, as Obicà has got what it takes to be great if everything is done just right.

A photograph of the restaurant's afternoon tea laid out on a table

Obicà’s Afternoon Tea
In tandem with Afternoon Tea Week (7th to 13th August 2023), Obicà’s London locations in St Paul’s, Poland Street and Canary Wharf are hosting a limited afternoon tea with an Italian twist.

Priced from £45 per person, inclusive of all food, a glass of Prosecco, and tea or coffee, delicacies on the menu include warm bites, such as crispy fried mozzarella bites with sage, as well as iconic Italian desserts that take in the likes of Tiramisu, Torta di Capri (a flourless chocolate and almond cake), and Obicà’s signature ice cream. Booking is advised.

Obicà Mozzarella Bar – Where and How?

For more information about the Obicà Mozzarella Bars worldwide, visit www.obica.com.

Obicà Mozzarella Bar St Paul’s is located at 4, 5-7 Limeburner Lane, London EC4M 7AX, United Kingdom. For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.obica.com/restaurants/london-st-pauls.

See photos of what we had to eat on the Luxurious Magazine Instagram page.

Read more reviews, culinary news and guides here.

Two photographs showing mozzarella dish varietiesEnjoy a Celebration of All Things Mozzarella at Obicà St Paul's 2

Simon Wittenberg

Senior Editorial Contributor

Born in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and now based in London, Simon Wittenberg is the senior editorial contributor to Luxurious Magazine® reporting directly to Paul Godbold. A specialist in the automotive sector, he has now expanded his repertoire to encompass all aspects relating to luxury and lifestyle. Simon has worked with some of the world’s most iconic marques such as Lotus Cars, Ferrari and Tesla Motors. His passions include luxury goods, motorsport, fine dining and travel.

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