Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Rocca is a relatively new Italian restaurant located on Harrison Ave in the South End. Unlike many Italian eateries, Rocca strives to create a hip, modern atmosphere using Mediterranean colors to liven up the large space. Above the door sits a neon sign that glows a steady red and welcomes guests inside. Upon entering Rocca, you are at first struck by the height of the bar area. Stretching at least 20 feet high, the bar wall is covered in cork while the opposing wall is made up of glass windows with shiny sheer curtains that give a translucent view to the outside patio (the patio is beautiful with wonderfully bright umbrellas, beautiful trees and an old water wheel). On this particular evening our party was seated upstairs. The upstairs area does not have as high ceilings as the downstairs bar but the feeling of spaciousness continues. A glowing azure blue "river" flows across the ceiling drawing your eyes across the large space. To the right, a smaller bar glows blue and is filled with bottles of any liquor you might want.

We started off our meal with two appetizers: the Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Pizzetta with ricotta, gorgonzola & sage ($9) and the Fried Calamari with salsa verde & preserved lemon ($9). The pizzetta was wonderful. It was light, crisp and packed with lots of flavor. The gorgonzola worked very well with the pear. I would definitely order this again. Although I personally am not a fan of fried calamari, everyone else at the table said they were nearly perfect: delicious and crisp, not at all chewy and there was a nice amount of both rings and tentacles. The only complaint was that they were just a tad too salt.

For my main course I ordered the Chicken Genoese roasted, with sweet and sour spinach, wild mushrooms & pine nuts ($19). The chicken was good, it was moist and the sauce was fantastic. I didn't particularly care for the mushrooms and pine nuts but the chicken portion was good and I was satisfied with the dish.

Bryan ordered the Lasagne Ligure with butternut squash, wild mushrooms, mozzarella, crescenza cheese & arugula pesto ($23). I felt that the portion size was a bit small for the amount of money but Bryan thought the dish was fantastic. The pasta tasted home-made, the dish was light but filling and although it was meatless, the mushrooms were a good substitute. The pesto was a nice fresh touch. Even though there was a lot going on with all the components and flavors, it worked really well and Bryan would order it again.

Bryan's parents had the Braised Short Ribs with creamy polenta, green beans, glazed carrots & pickled horseradish gremolata ($24) and the Tuscan Tomato Soup with farro, chickpeas & white beans, served with Parmigiano crostini & basil oil ($7) to accompany the Mixed Greens with citrus vinaigrette & fresh herbs ($7). Both parents enjoyed their dishes. Again with the portion size, the braised short ribs seemed a bit on the small side for the price but I didn't hear too many complaints about the amount of food at the table.

Overall, our experience was a good one. Our waitress was very attentive to us and was quick to refill our water and offer us more bread (foccacia with olive oil). We all agreed that the food was in general very good and we would return to try more. The only negative we had was that there was louder techno music playing downstairs which made its way to the upper level where it didn't work as well with the ambiance.

Rocca on Urbanspoon

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