Polpo Brighton Vegan Review

Polpo Brighton is one of the UK’s first Venetian tapas restaurants. Opening with its first venue in London they then expanded, opening up a number of other venues in London before venturing down to Brighton.


A taste of Italy

And what a perfect spot for it. Situated in central Brighton along the pedestrianised promenade amongst the Theatre Royal, bars, buskers and entertainers at the height of summer at Brighton’s Polpo, you really feel like you could be enjoying your Aperol Spritz in Italy. There’s alfresco dining where you’ll hear musicians playing and watching passersby, then when you enter the restaurant you’re greeted with the bar where staff are mixing up cocktails and chatting with customers sitting on the barstools enjoying some cicheti with their wine.

Polpo in Brighton

Classy Interior

A few steps further ahead the restaurant opens up to seated dining. We arrived at half six on a Friday evening, so the light was starting to fade and the interior felt cosy with dark wood floors and maroon leather cushioned seats. The large skylight spread plenty of natural light throughout the restaurant which was lovely.

Starter at Polpo Brighton

When we were seated I had a look at the menu realising there wasn’t anything that said it was vegan or available to make as a vegan version.

After speaking with one of the staff I quickl learnt that most of the vegetable, salad and pizzette dishes can be made without the cheese..

..and he went on to describe what the dishes were, making them sound very appealing.

Sharing small plates

In case you don’t know what Polpo is about, it’s a restaurant based on the traditional Venetian bàcari where you order cicheti, small snacks or side dishes to accompany drinks. So everything on the menu is served as small plates and one of the staff recommended around four or five dishes between two people (each priced between £3.20 – £8.00)

Food at Polpo Brighton

A summer spritz

We started by ordering an Aperol Spritz and a Rum Iced Tea along with a selection of dishes. The kitchen was at the back of the seating area so you can see the chefs plating and serving up the food, this adds a nice buzz to the restaurant whilst we chatted and enjoyed our drinks. The Aperol Spritz was fresh and served with a couple of olives and fresh lemon. The Rum Tea cocktail was summery and fresh with mint, which reminded me of a mojito.

Drinks at Polpo in Brighton

Our food all arrived at once, each plate of food adorning the table with more and more colour.

We shuffled the plates around to squeeze the last one on and started tucking in. The Focaccia & olive oil was fragrant and seasoned with seasalt which gave it a salty punch. This went very well with some of the courgette, basil and rocket salad (this would have come with Parmesan but they did it without as a vegan option).

Food spread at Polpo in Brighton

From the specials

The bruschetta with tomatoes was from the specials boards that the staff recommended. The tomatoes were fresh, sweet and oozed a nice juice onto the bread.

Brushetta at Polpo Brighton

My favourite was the spiced broccoli and chilli pizzette, which would have come with blue cheese but they prepared it without as another vegan alternative. The base of the pizzette was so crispy you could snap it which I liked. The tomato sauce was rich and the broccoli was full of flavour. Everything on our table was at it’s peak of freshness and tasted delicious, and the flavours married well together.

Pizzarette at Polpo Brighton

There wasn’t much in the way of dessert for a vegan option so we ordered an Espresso Nardini to finish the meal as it was a Friday evening, after all! This was their take on an Espresso Martini and it really packs a punch!

Cocktails at Polpo Brighton


Overall, my experience trying the vegan options at Polpo was a great success, even though there isn’t a vegan menu per sé or does it state anywhere on the menu that they accommodate vegan food, so I was pleasantly surprised! I’m looking forward to my next visit on another hot summer’s evening to sit outside with a spritz, it’s also the perfect spot for a pre-theatre meal as it’s practically next door to the Theatre Royal.

What Next?

See the listing for Polpo Brighton – Venetian Restaurant