If you’ve eaten your way through Little Italy and are looking for Italian fare that is slightly less passé, find yourself at Bocca Restaurant in the Flatiron District. From the brains behind East Village’s Cacio e Pepe comes classic Roman-inspired comfort food in a warmly sophisticated setting. And of course, do as the Romans do, and have dinner with plenty of wine.
The menu is in the hands of Executive Chef James Corona, alum of a slew of reputable restaurants, including Pó under Mario Batali, San Domenico, and Bouley. Using only the freshest ingredients, authentic recipes, and pastas made in-house, you can except only the best outcome and high-quality dishes. Bocca uses only imported Italian DOP (protected designation of origin) products, and is also a proud supporter of the Union Square Farmer’s Market.
We started off with some appetizers. As typical as ordering fried calamari sounds, the herbs sprinkled on top and the deliciously spicy tomato dipping sauce made it one of the best calamari dishes to taste. The bacon-wrapped scallions were phenomenal, accompanied by a side of risotto. We also eyed the prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, one of their most raved about dishes.
Itching to taste the house-made pasta, I opted for the Pappardelle Al Ragú Di Agnello: mint ribbon pasta with lamb shank and fresh ricotta. I salivated over my partner-in-crime’s dish, the Capricci Alla Norcina, which was wheat twisted tubes pasta with sweet sausage, just a dash of cream, and grated imported smoked buffalo mozzarella.
Other recommended dishes to go back for are Chef Corona’s signature timballino di melanzane alla parmigiana, described as “a mound of baked eggplant melting with mozzarella.” We also liked the sound of the tonnarelli cacio e pepe where the pasta twirled in a 25 lb Romano cheese wheel right at your table, allowing you to watch as the cheese melts to coat the pasta in creamy goodness. For meat lovers, don’t miss the porchetta, which is marinated for two days in fennel pollen and rosemary, then roasted until moist on the inside and crackling on the outside. And there are plenty of seafood options for a delicious change of pace.
The Bocca menu changes seasonally, so you shouldn’t delay if you see something on the menu that tickles your fancy. But with the changing menu, it gives you a great opportunity to go back to the same restaurant and having the option to try so many different dishes! All certain to be delicious.
And of course, save room for dessert. The Cioccolato is a flourless brownie with chocolate mousse and topped with homemade stracciatella gelato. Normally not a fan of Panna Cotta, I was pleasantly surprised by this coconut rendition with a tangy spiced pineapple and passion fruit puree.
For the not-boring-person’s Italian restaurant, Bocca Restaurant is the place you want to book your next reservation. Not only is the food impeccable, the service and attentiveness is definitely not to be ignored. Be sure to say hello to Nico di Stefano while you’re there, who will treat you like his long-lost friend and invite you to his sister’s villa in Italy.
39 E 19th Street
btw Park and Broadway