Fish & Bubbles: New Seafood Restaurant & Aperitivo Bar in Notting Hill

Modern Italian seafood restaurant and aperitivo bar, Fish & Bubbles, is now open in Notting Hill, brought to us by the brothers behind Stanley Tucci favourite, La Mia Mamma

One of my formative memories of Italian food came on a family trip to a resort on the Ligurian coast. Our beach was 300 steps down from the hotel bar and carved into the cliff face, meaning once you’d made the health and safety-defying descent, you might as well stay there for the day. And, once down there, the only place to buy food was a beach shack serving traditional Italian snacks.

Being a fussy British tween I’d usually order chips for lunch, but unsurprisingly they weren’t on the menu. So with little option, I ordered a trio of bruschetta with tomato, anchovies and mozzarella.

This felt exotic at the time, bearing in mind we’re talking about the early 2000s when Pizza Express was barely a thing in the UK. Unsure what to expect, but coaxed into trying something new by my well-travelled mum, I took a bite with trepidation. For something that looked and seemed so simple, I remember being blown away by the taste. To this day I can still remember the flavours of the lightly charred bread, good olive oil, salty anchovy and ripe tomato, warmed to the perfect temperature by the beach sun. This might sound like an overstatement but up until this point my only experience of ‘stuff on toasted bread’ was baked beans on granary.   

It’s been a while since I revisited that food memory, but there was something about stepping into Fish and Bubbles restaurant in Notting Hill recently that transported me back to that Ligurian beach. This new casual Italian eatery is inspired by aperitivo bars and is the first place in the UK to specialise in “panini di mare” – aka fish paninis. These signature toasted sandwiches come in the form of “Rosetta” bread rolls, which is a typical Italian doorstep-sized bun shaped as a rose, stuffed with the freshest seafood fillings.

The restaurant looks petite from the outside but there’s plenty of room, with two ground-floor dining areas, bar and table seating, plus a downstairs area that would accommodate bigger groups. The décor is cosy, with lamplit tables and kitschy seaside details such as fishing nets and maritime paintings. It’s the type of place you can visit for date night, or a catch up with friends, fuelled by several glasses of prosecco. 

If bubbles aren’t your thing there’s also a cocktail menu with four types of Negroni – very much my thing. We ordered the ‘Capri’ Negroni which is known in Italy as Negroni Sbagliato. Whilst a classic Negroni contains equal parts Campari, vermouth, and gin, this recipe swaps the gin for prosecco, for a lighter slightly sweeter finish.

Not only are these just £7 at Fish and Bubbles (that’s outrageously cheap for London) they also arrived in iced glasses – a little detail that makes all the difference to the flavour. There’s also a signature ‘sea water’ infused Negroni, which doesn’t taste like a mouthful of polluted British beach water – the salty sea flavour comes from pure sea salt.

To start our meal we ordered a Fish Sharing Board which features a selection of the menu’s top rated tapas. This turned out to be a generous two-tier platter with 10 tapas to try from – perfect if you want to taste one of everything.

The highlights were the ‘Caponata di Spada’ – a dish of softly cooked sweet and sour vegetables with meaty cubes of swordfish and the light-as-air ‘Polpette di Pesce’ – freshly made fish balls with white fish and soft herbs. We also shared the signature Tuna Tartare which was served simply with a thin crisp slice of toast for scooping and mixed leaves. This was fresh as you like, and topped with a decadent truffle shaving. 

On to the main event – the much-hyped fish paninis that feature playful names such as the ‘Tuna Turner’ (Cacio e pepe & basil cream, tuna tartare, courgettes, roasted tomatoes, stracciatella and rocket) and the ‘Polp Fiction’ (Fried octopus, cacio e pepe & basil sauce, lemon & ricotta mousse, courgettes). Best eaten with your hands, these generous rolls are stuffed to the point of exploding – making them a whole lot of fun. The highlight for me was the creamy, decadent stracciatella that I finished by the fork when the bread defeated me.

There’s so much to like about this new restaurant concept in Notting Hill. The menu is a lot of fun, the Negronis are cheap as chips and the fish is as fresh as it gets. And unlike that lovely Ligurian beach, there’s not a single flight of stairs to descend to enjoy a taste of great Italian food.

Plan your visit to Fish and Bubbles

Sophie Green

Sophie Green is PR Manager for a designer flash sale website and part-time fashion blogger, having founded her fashion and shopping blog in 2012. Finding a passion for the industry at a young age, Sophie studied Fashion Communications at university and has worked in the industry for over a decade, heading up the PR departments of several fashion and fine jewellery brands. Through her fashion blog she has worked on campaigns with brands including UGG Australia, La Redoute and Headmasters and counts sitting opposite Anna Wintour at the Topshop Unique LFW show as a career highlight! Outside of work Sophie likes to unwind by hitting the gym for a boxing class or ‘researching’ the best G&T’s the capital has to offer. Her fashion obsession is sequins, with an entire section of her wardrobe dedicated to all things-sparkly!