Buona Bocca

Critics' pick
Photo credit: Cristiano Bianchi
Xingfu Sancun Sixiang Xingdong Lu

Beijing has played host to scant few self-styled wine bars – ranging widely and wildly in quality, expertise and general authenticity. While we understand wine as a beverage and cultural focal point can be tricky to sell, serve and master, wine bars as we have experienced in Beijing tend to go one way; devolving into a colour-coded universe, piloted by vacant-faced automatons, caring not for the vino in your glass, the juice in the bottle or the fact that only one of the by-the-glass options is available at any one time. On this rather dismal field, punctuated by occasional flares of promise that fade into sour, tannic regret, we stumble into Buona Bocca.

A new Italian wine bar and small-plates concept from a pair of semi-first time restaurateurs with a background in food, wine and design, Buona Bocca is shaking things up in the Beijing wine bar scene.Translated literally from Italian as 'beautiful mouth', Buona Bocca is focused squarely on just that: making beautiful things happen in your mouth with its modern selection of curated pours and tasty bites.

cold cuts

Set just off Xindong Lu on a small street connecting the back side of Sanlitun’s bar street to the more residential enclave of Xingfucun, what Buona Bocca lacks in vista and kerb appeal, it makes up for with a rather remarkable interior design and covered patio. The digs are styled after the brick-and-mortar cellars of Italy – with a few modern touches, like high-concept lighting and comfortable seating, of course.

From behind the bar that runs most of the length of the narrow space, suitable for about 25 seated patrons and roughly as many standing, we gratefully accept fishbowl-sized goblets of half-Aperol half-Campari spritz (50RMB) and slowly work our way through more than a handful of Italian wines on offer by the glass. You can leave the big-ticket bottles at the door please, this isn’t your party cadre’s Lafite-pounding sort of joint. A surprisingly popular tipple is the lambrusco (glasses from 50RMB). Long shunned as a tacky '70s novelty, this sparkling red variety is regaining popularity among those looking for a cooling, fuller-bodied alternative to summer rosé.

buona bocca

Dishes range from small assortimenti of sliced parma ham, salami, mortadella and capicola to massive platters suitable for groups (88/188RMB). Freshly baked flatbreads are a nice touch. The house-made cured pork spread, topped with parmesan cheese, melts into the dough still hot from the grill. While the cold cuts are more of a snack than a meal, with a glass of fruity, effervescent lambrusco it’s quite the summer treat – and more room for wine was never a bad thing. Buona Bocca is a comfortable, well-priced hybrid of substance and style, you’ll find us on the terrace until the first snows.

Venue name: Buona Bocca
Opening hours: 5pm-midnight Wed-Mon
English address: First Floor, Building 4, Shoukai Bojun Xingfu Sancun Sixiang, Xingdong Lu, Chaoyang district
Chinese address: 朝阳区新东路幸福三村四巷首开铂郡南区4号楼
  • 4 out of 5 stars