Bocca is located at 39 E. 19th Street between Park and Broadway, 212-387-1200, www.boccanyc.com, and is open for lunch Mon–Fri, 12-3pm and for dinner Mon–Thurs 5:30-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-11:30 and Sun 5:30-10:30pm
At Bocca, the team behind Cacio e Pepe have done everything to make sure diners are comfortable, from the simple but elegant décor and cushy banquets to the attentive service. Guests are greeted by the ebullient host Nico Di Stefano, (Il Buco and Quinto Quatro), who ensures that guests have everything they need. Make no mistake. Mr. Di Stefano is an expert and a reason in itself to visit Bocca.
Another reason is a new executive chef, James Corona, who has worked at some of the finest kitchens here and abroad including Po under Mario Batali, as well as at San Domenico and Bouley. He also staged at El Bulli in 2006. Chef Corona’s take on Roman cuisine, as one of the original comfort foods, makes Bocca shine.. What’s more comforting than knowing that you can always rely on the kitchen to send out perfectly prepared classic Italian dishes done in a refined and modern way, an accessible wine list, and house-made desserts, all at comfortable prices?
Guests can begin in the bar with after-work happy hour for artisanal cocktails made with fresh juices (try the white wine sangria with spiced peaches and homemade aromatics), wines or prosecco by the glass, or choose from a selection of premium beers, along with bar snacks such as gorgonzola-stuffed dates wrapped in speck and chicken liver crostini with fig marmalade.
For antipasti, share a platter of cured meats and cheeses, or select the wonderfully tender timballino di melanzane all parmigiana, a mound of baked eggplant melting with mozzarella or polpettine della nonna, light and airy veal meatballs with tomato sauce, as well as refreshing salads composed of Greenmarket ingredients such as heirloom tomatoes or strawberries.
Then it’s on to the primi. The ultimate comfort food, the Roman version of mac and cheese, tonnarelli cacio e pepe is served tableside, the pasta twirled in a 25 lb Romano cheese wheel. You can see the cheese melting as it coats the fresh, black pepper flecked pasta in a creamy sauce. Another Roman favorite is carbonara, here made with egg, pecorino, guanciale, but no cream. Oxtail ravioli with porcini and mascarpone is a rich and satisfying treat. Other house made pastas include black fettuccine with puttanesca sauce and calamari, and mint pasta tossed with braised lamb shank and fresh ricotta.
tonnarelli cacio e pepe (Above)
Another delightful pasta creation
For the secondi, the porchetta is not to be missed. One of the best in the city—pork shoulder is marinated for two days in fennel pollen and rosemary and roasted until moist on the inside and crackling on the outside served with broccoli rabe and red onion marmalade. Another Roman classic that feels like home is pollo alla cacciatore, chicken braised with peppers, tomatoes and gaeta olives. For pescatarians, there’s tonno in padella con caponata, seared tuna with smoked eggplant puree and caponata, and baccala alla romano, Atlantic cod fish braised in tomatoes with olives, caper berries and potatoes.
For a house made dessert light enough to follow any meal, try the coconut panna cotta with a tangy passion-fruit puree. A bit richer, but still light, there’s also a sheep’s milk ricotta cheesecake and the classic rum-soaked tiramisu.
The all-Italian wine list features a broad selection of wines not found everywhere else. Carefully selected to include wines made from indigenous grapes from Italy that are not mainstream or well known, the bottled wines are a great value. You’ll always find something different that you may not have discovered before on the wine list. Also available are excellent full-bodied Barolos and smooth Brunellos. And for an extra value, join Bocca on Sunday evenings when all the wines are half price.
Centrally located between the Flatiron and Gramercy Park, Bocca is ideally situated as place to take a break from Fifth Avenue shopping and convenient from all parts of the city for birthday parties and date nights. But you don’t need to wait for a special occasion: Bocca’s comfortable cuisine at comfortable prices is perfect for everyday.
And don’t forget to ask for Nico.
Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.