Simply put, Bocca East is Italian food that you want to eat. Taking cues from traditional Italian dishes and flavors, the restaurant is pushing the envelope on contemporary Italian. Residing on the corner of a very busy 77th street and 2nd avenue and with a huge oak door at the entrance, Bocca East is hard to miss. Inside the design is clean but rustic Italian. From the brick walls and the wood floor to the natural wood tables and chairs. That is of course until you peak over to the bar and view the massive stainless steel wine refrigeration unit along the wall. Able to preserve wine for up to 90 days, Bocca offers 40 different types of wine daily from its fancy wine dispensing system, with a total selection of up to 500 bottles from Italy.
Our waiter, a native from Napoli was very polite and suggested some of his favorite menu items and wines. After a quick glance at the menu we noticed something was missing. What you won’t find are over sauced, over cheesed, over cooked, heavy dishes that you grew up with. Not that there is anything wrong with that. We love the traditional Southern Italian/New York style food. Who doesn’t love a huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs?
But I digress… What you will get are clean flavors and elements that support the main ingredient, not drown it out. Take the Carciofi Croccanti Con Aglio Al Basilico (crispy artichokes with basil aioli). These little bites of goodness are perfectly fried, salted and dusted in parmigiano. We almost ordered another round. The only way to follow up a light appetizer was with a sizeable portion of slow roasted pork shoulder. Pull apart tender and large enough for two. A lot of care went into preparing the pork and it came through bite after bite.
We finished up recounting our time in Italy. It has certainly been a long time since we ate Italian food in NYC that made us feel like we were back in Rome or the Amalfi Coast.
- Chianti Classico (A+L)
- Carciofi Croccanti Con Aglio Al Basilico [Crispy artichokes with basil aioli] (A+L)
- Pici Vongole Veraci e Bottarga [Home made Water & Organic Flour Thick Spaghetti Garlic, Olive Oil, Crushed Red Pepper, Manila Clams, Bottarga] (A+L)
- Roasted Pork Shoulder Special (A+L)
A: Wow! Loved this place! So cozy and warm. The type of place you’d like to sit all day and drink bottles of chianti! The food was a welcome surprise. Sometimes I forget that I actually love REAL Italian food… so many restaurants try to pass off sloppy lasagna and chicken parm as Italian and it forces me to ward off any place with a red sauce on the menu. Bocca East is like a portal to Italy!
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Warm, Young and Vibrant. Rome Meets the Upper East Side
- Food/Drinks- 3.75: Nearly Stellar
- Tip Worthy- 4: Double the Tax and Then Some
- Coordinates- 5: Block – Fun is Right Next Door
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green! There are another 499 wines to try!