The top tapas in town

TASTY: The menu features an eclectic range of Mediterranean dishes

Ivan Di Santo and his team at Soprano have created the perfect mix of fantastic food, amazing ambience and a cocktail list that’s one of the best in town. Eileen Leahy went along to sample a taste of the terrific tapas that this legendary Tunbridge Wells establishment offers its diners…


With the cost-of-living crisis, ongoing war in Ukraine and a turbulent political landscape to endure, we need all the escapism we can get right now.

And I’m pleased to report that as soon as you set foot over the welcoming threshold of Soprano on Tunbridge Wells High Street you’ve got it – in spades.

We visited one early spring evening when the rainfall was high and our mood was low after a busy, frustrating week. But as soon as the door was pushed open into this now legendary Tunbridge Wells tapas establishment, we could have easily been in a bustling joint in Barcelona, such was the buzzy, friendly and intoxicating atmosphere.

Specialising in authentic, tasty tapas there’s also a little magical Mediterranean twist on the menu too which reflects owner Ivan Di Santo’s Italian heritage – he hails from the Calabria region of the country, the southernmost extremity of mainland Italy.

Since it launched in 2006, Soprano is now a reliable – and firm favourite – fixture on the circuit for the discerning diners of Tunbridge Wells and beyond. And just in case you’re new around here, his brother Maurizio runs the incredible French-inspired restaurant Coco Retro just down the road. It’s fair to say that the Di Santo brothers certainly offer a wonderful European epicurean experience here in Tunbridge Wells.

As you’d imagine with a place that styles itself as a ‘tapas bar’ the food on offer at Soprano is predominantly Iberian-inspired – think classic Spanish picky fare such as pan con tomate (£4.95) and padron pimento (£7.95), as well as heartier authentic offerings like paella del mar (£16.50) and croquette de jamon (£9.50).

But in addition to a little Italian twist here and there, with a few other culinary styles thrown into the mix – a smart move as a decent tranche of the menu will therefore appeal to all tastes. The barriga de cedro (£8.95) – pork belly marinated in lime, pineapple and mixed herbs, for example sits very nicely alongside the more typical Spanish offerings.

Another big draw with Soprano is its incredible cocktail menu. On arrival you can choose to take a seat at the cosy bar while you await your table. And if you do then lucky you, as it’s a great vantage point for seeing Soprano’s incredibly talented team of mixologists do their thing: shaking, mixing and making show-stopping Mojitos, Route 66s or the house Soprano special cocktails.

But back to the food. All the dishes, big and small, boast the finest ingredients and are beautifully presented no matter what you choose. Small plates, sharing boards or indulgent dishes for one; each creation looks and tastes delicious. And each time I’ve visited, it’s fair to say the electric ambience enhances each bite even further.

On this particular visit, my husband and I dined at a small table tucked away in the corner which was perfect for an intimate meal. Yet all around us were bigger tables of four, six and more, all clearly having an absolute ball!

So whether you’re looking for an intimate diner à deux or a cracking night out with friends, then Soprano can certainly deliver on every level. As well as delicious food, a superb drinks list (which includes an expertly-curated wine list) this special place has that added touch of alchemy that no amount of money or considered décor can buy: an absolutely brilliant atmosphere. It’s fair to say that if you’re looking for a party or special get-together then you’ve come to the right place…


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