1496 Second Ave (78th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 249-1010
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Claudio Cristifoli
Area: East 70s
Entree Price: $15-20
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard
Step inside the large wooden doors of this Upper East Side restaurant and you will be instantly impressed. Slim brick columns stand near the cozy bar. Wooden ceiling beams and floors give the space a rustic, homey vibe. Add in some warm lighting and a glass of red wine, and you will probably have difficulty leaving your table. But that is truly the Italian way. After all, when you are surrounded by good friends and good food, what is the rush?
The flavors of Bocca are genuinely Italian, and chef Claudio Cristifoli, formerly of Cipriani, has quite a creative flair. Homemade bread arrives with a sweet pesto sauce for dipping. Fried calamari finds a companion with zucchini ($10), and deliciously crisp rice balls, called Arancini ($10), come to life with lemon and parmesan. We completed our "antipasti" course with the prosciutto e mozzarella affumicata ($11). The mozzarella is melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
Pastas are easily the strongest items on the menu, coming in all shapes and sizes, each cooked to perfection. I loved my order of Pici alla Granseola ($17), homemade pasta, crab, fresh tomato, garlic and olive oil. The thick noodles were cooked al dente, exactly how Italian pasta should be, enhanced by the richness of the crab. My dining mate, meanwhile, hit the jackpot with the Ravioli di Zucca ($14), an exquisite dish of pumpkin and ricotta ravioli served with asparagus, brown butter, and sage.
Desserts here are also superb. I especially enjoyed the berry salad with lemon granny smith sorbet. It makes for an excellent refresher after a somewhat heavy meal.
I guess what shocked me most at Bocca are the prices. Flavorful, authentic Italian dishes, in large portions, for well under $20. For Upper East Siders, this spot can easily become a weekly staple. For those of us that have to make the travel, trust me, the reward is well worth the journey!
Review By: Rachel Sult