Rocca’s dishes are inspired by “New England’s bounty [and] driven by Italian sensibility”. This South End spot is a bit off the beaten path, a couple streets away from the more popular Washington and Tremont, but Chef Tiffany Faison does not disappoint!
Bread: An oblong shaped loaf was served in the middle of the table on a ‘brown paper bag’ sheet of paper, left for us to rip apart with our hands. The EVOO was dramatically poured at the table into a square dish; I must say, watching the long perfect stream of olive oil flow from the spout to the dish was kind of mesmerizing.
Menu: Divided into 5 sections – Pesce Crudo (raw fish), Pesce Cotto (cooked fish), Vegetables Leaves & Grains, Housemade Pastas, Mostly From The Sea With A Little Farm. I could have chosen 1 item from each part of the menu (crispy artichokes, yellowfin tuna tartare, smoked & braised pork)! I was hoping for the Spicy Tomato “Lasagne”, but it was made with tripe and once I found out that tripe is the lining of a cow’s stomach I went with the following:
Spicy Squash Soup: roasted pistachios / black pepper / foie gras whipped ricotta / anise hyssop
Ricotta Cavatelli: foie gras vinegrette / chopped walnuts / cherry mosto
Presentation/Food: All of our apps (crispy artichokes, soup, little gem salad) were served on a mini wooden cutting board.
Spicy Squash Soup: The soup bowl came empty except for the foie gras whipped ricotta and pistachios. Next to the bowl was a small Mason-type jar filled with the squash soup, ½ of which was poured into my bowl by the server. The soup was incredibly smooth and rich in flavor. There were enough pistachios to go with each spoonful which was a plus.
Ricotta Cavatelli: Some may have seen this dinner as a small serving, but it was truly the perfect size for me. The pasta, mixed with chopped walnuts, covered the cherries & the dollop of ricotta. The cherries were halved and strong in flavor-a different accessory used in a pasta dish-but mixed well with the ricotta cheese creating a light but rich sauce. Really interesting dish!
Bathroom: The stalls have a backsplash of tiny earth toned tiles. The same can be found near the brass bowl sinks… very pretty. And the full length mirror was a plus!
Wait Staff: Our waiter did a great job – he knew which red wine was the driest (and actually steered me towards my favorite Tuscan red!), he anticipated their lack of the Tuna Tartare (based on a private party that ordered it all 😦 ), and he was able to describe all the rare menu items (tripe, anise hyssop, etc).
Overall: I thought for sure they’d have a “flatbreads” section on the menu, but overall a successful dining experience! Great food and even better wine (’07 Rosso di Montepeluciano Poliziano). The prices aren’t outrageous, with the pasta dishes running in the $teens and the main courses topping out at $29 (for the lobster). Beware of the smaller portions… unless you eat like me!
The Perfect Bite: Cavatelli. Walnuts. Cherry. I’ve never seen or tasted a pasta dish like it!