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May 3, 2007 07:38 PM

Rocca "No"

Went with limited expectations First full week and all. But PUHLEESE...Mobbed. Loud. Decor nothing memorable ( traffic between tables heavy with wandering waitstaff and confusing pattern) and banquettes seem an inch or two too tall to have comfort at table height Lots of attitude on part of patrons.Front room staff pleasant in a schoolgirl sorta way..waitstaff clueless. Tap water with translucent fly or something amoeba like in it...Ordered 2 glasses of wine ( I am not offended by the glassware and by end of nite would have drunk it from my shoe) and list removed from table. Requested list back .Not til after tastes and most of apps ...mushroom toasts tasty Parmesean and walnut taste was really walnuts and honey with 2 paltry chunks of cheese. DH liked antipasti plate. Crispy veal medallions not so crispy and tomato sauce more like a sweet salsa ....asked what the whole fish was...answer " a mild white fish" Shoulda asked "which one?" but at that point already knew there was no point . DH thought tuna entree was bleh and my steak frite was just plain weird ...incredibly tough and garlicky to the point of " where's the beef (sic) taste " and potato wedges below drenched in saucey goop. Decent priced italian wine list. That we enjoyed...Waitstaff seemed really eager to please Lots of " how is ...." but forgetful and excuse was " still hiring ...our assignments are too big" Not my problem Ordered strawberry sundae-like dessert to share ( I prefer Sundae at Friendly's and I hate Friendly's ) and ordered bottle of dessert wine Dessert arrives No wine Beam me home We'll give it a few months Expect either major shake out and improvement ( we so miss the original Michelas ) or it'll be rush to return all

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  1. I'm with you. See my last post on "Rocca Last Night" thread. 1 year max is all I give the place, despite what the posters who were mad at me said. The place just doesn't have "IT", mark my words.

    12 Replies
    1. re: BostonBarGuy

      Agreed. Needs MUCH work, or it's never gonna make it. The food was barely so-so.

      1. re: ebfeeney

        Yikes, I was really looking forward to going to Rocca, but now I'm hesitant. Maybe I'll wait a few weeks to see if things shake out a bit.

        1. re: hiddenboston

          I was there for brunch on Sunday and I couldn;t have had a different experience. The place was empty when we arrived, but started to fill up later. The staff was attentive and really sweet. The owners and the event manager were going table to table introducing themselves which was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the decor - it's very comfortable but also contemporary. The food was simple, satisfying and well priced. I am looking forward to returning for dinner on the patio soon!

          1. re: hiddenboston

            I've said it before and I'll say it again: anyone going to a new fine-dining place (especially a 200-seat one) in its first six to eight weeks of operation should expect a lot of screwups that won't necessarily be representative of the post-shakedown-cruise experience.

            I've had better luck myself: a couple of very promising experiences already. The Week One dinner featured pretty terrible service but mostly good food, with only one serious misfire (overbaked, dried-out rigatoni). My recent experience was much smoother all around (despite it being an insanely packed night) with much better service and kitchen consistency -- the rigatoni was delicious this time.

            The friends I brought all agreed: "Pretty damned good, and a pretty good value, especially for the South End." I don't think much of the decor either, but others in my party loved it. I think the downstairs bar is more attractive than the upstairs dining room. The patio might be nice once the weather improves.

        2. re: BostonBarGuy

          PS- Let's guess how many people will enlighten us that a new place takes afew months to work out the "kinks"...We know that. I think the place is a white elephant.

          1. re: BostonBarGuy

            Agreed, the "shakedown cruise problem" is a patently obvious observation, practically a truism. So if that's the case, if folks visiting early on understand that such problems are a given, why do the complaints and predictions of eventual failure focus on service and kitchen miscues?

            I have an easier time with the argument that says, "Neighborhood bad." But those are relative perceptions, too, as I've often pointed out about the early days of Tremont 647, and later Pho Republique. Crazy-Assed Pioneers in the South End have a habit of quickly becoming Bold Visionaries. I agree that the decor is kind of ugly and cheap-looking, but I've felt that way about a lot of places that have become relative hotspots, e.g., Stella.

            I've stopped making predictions about places succeeding or failing -- my Dead Pool has some five-year-old entries on it -- but if there's an early indicator for success, it's a team with a track record, which this place has in spades. That doesn't make it necessarily Chowhound-worthy, but such places are the ones that survive to confound the early naysayers: they make money against all odds. It might be interesting to revisit this post a year from now.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Well said.

              That said, you're either a restaurateur who's willing to invest in the front-of-the-house, or you're not. The straight-from-craigslist green-ness of 95 percent of the servers and bartenders I've dealt with so far does not bode well. It's one thing not to be familiar with the menus; it's quite another to lack basic service skills---a deficiency that six months of daily "family meals" straight off the menu won't address.

              I do, on the other hand, have a modicum of faith in Michela Larson, Gary Sullivan, and the cooking of Tom Fosnot. I certainly wish it well. It would be great if it succeeds.

              1. re: wittlejosh

                Agreed. I also have faith in Michela Larson and Gary Sullivan, Im sure Rocca will work the kinks out.

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                Heh. Would like to see your Dead Pool. Hell, would like to start a private betting ring among hounds. That would be nasty fun.
                My feeling so far is "eh." Not being a South Ender, I don't think I'll end up there often. I agree with Slim that you can't make an entirely fair, objective call from an early visit, but you can decide *something*, something mostly subjective--whether the mood and the food speak to you personally...and except for the few classically Ligurian dishes, I've so far felt smothered by generic trendiness.

            2. re: BostonBarGuy

              I also was looking for a great dining experience at Rocca,needless to say I did not get it. I am pregnant and need my meat cooked welldone. Ordered the steak, told them how I wanted the steak cooked. It came back so rare, I could not eat it. Asked them to cook it more, they put it under the broiler until it was inedible. Called the manager, she told me their chefs are very opinionated and like to cook the food to their specifications and I should be happy the only thing he did to my food was burn it. Infering he could have done much worst to it. Will never go back,

              1. re: looking for a good meal

                Thats to bad. I find it very hard to believe that the cooks would not cook the food according to your specifications especially being pregnant. Sounds like poor communication. My husband and I also went to Rocca tonight. The restaurant was dead so we sat at the bar had espresso martini and two glasses of grenache. Too eat we had a prosciutto pizzetta, rag pasta, shrimp scampi, the chicken with sweet and sour spinach & the shortrib with polenta. All were perfectly seasoned and cooked. For dessert we had the pine nut custard tart and the apple crostada with vanilla gelato. I walked into Rocca expecting to be bored and let down by the food. I really enjoyed my meal, service and ambience sitting at the bar this eveing.

              2. re: BostonBarGuy

                I'm surprised it's lasted this long. Service problems from the beginning but presumably ignored. Food quality is too spotty to be trusted. Too bad, because I think it's a beautiful space and a hip location with free parking.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. Living almost directly across from Rocca, I was excited to the new restaurant go in on Harrison. There was a lot of excitement around this place and opening party seemed quite impressive watching it from my locale.

                  As I entered the restaurant with a friend, I was quite impressed with the interior decor and and layout. The bar area was very inviting and staff attentive.

                  We arrived for a 6:45 reservation right on time and the hostess asked us to wait it the bar until our table was ready. 20 minutes later she brought us upstairs to a half empty restaurant. I didn't like the fact that they tried to steer us into having a drink before dinner.

                  Service: I've seen a lot of comments about the service on this blog. Our waiter was actually quite good, informed and very attentive. Water was always full and managers constantly greeting customers.

                  The atmosphere in the restaurant was great. Spacious well appointed with comfortable seats comfortable good lighting. Above all, as the restaurant filled up, it wasn’t too noisy.

                  The food was very good. We split a slider and a Trofie pasta. Both were very good, but the portions extremely small. At first I thought they had split the pasta so we could both have a taste. I was wrong. I then had the Veal Involtini. Very tasty, but again it was one piece of veal. Appetizers in most restaurants are larger then their entrees. Yes, the prices are average for the South End, but you need to consider the snack you need after you leave the restaurant. No value here.

                  Overall, it wasn't a bad experience, but I was disappointed.

                  1. Kinks or no kinks, I just don't think the food has much potential. We had tastes, salads a pasta dish and entree and nothing was very good. The prawns were mushy and everything was just okay. The pesto was good, but come on...that is one of the easiest things to make. I perfected mine when I was 12 and the fact that the server told me that it's great because it is made by hand with a mortar and pestle with "lots of fresh basil," sort of baffles me. I hope it is made with fresh basil.

                    I live downtown and perhaps if that were in my neighborhood, I would take the time to find a few dishes that were made well and I would go back. I don't think it's worth the car ride, taxi ride or public transit.

                    1. The original comment has been removed
                      1. One of my early observations from this ancient thread about Rocca still stand: that upstairs dining room is just butt-ugly, with a cheap-looking design and a poor layout. There are many dishes that I think are very, very good and not often seen elsewhere, plus a few that aren't so special. I like the wine list okay, and the bartending varies between good and fair.

                        But as I've noted in one other thread, there's a persistent problem in their ability to get food from the basement kitchen to the second-floor dining room still piping hot. I've decided it's not worth dining anywhere here but at the bar or on the patio. There's also a private dining room on the first floor that I didn't know about where they apparently can get your entrees served before they become lukewarm.

                        I still like the place enough to include it in my regular neighborhood rotation.

                        1. Like they say...horses for courses (or different strokes for different folks). Four of tried Rocca two weeks ago. Nothing memorable, from decor to food (maybe the parking). With literally hundreds of places in Metro Boston we didn't find any reason to be back