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Jun 29, 2007 04:22 PM

South Bay Secret: Coccole Laboratorio del Gusto

Going to Coccole Laboratorio del Gusto (what's up with that name?!?) tomorrow night for "Date Night" with my husband. Anything special you want me to check out on the menu, Chowers? I'll report back after experiencing the alleged "South Bay Secret".


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  1. I just did a little writeup.

    I thought the appetizer gorgonzola tart was excellent. As was the salad. The pasta was a big portion and the cream sauce was a bit heavy so you may go for something lighter or split. Duck breast was excellent as well. Wanted to try the nightly special pork but they were sold out when we got to it, so check the special boards.

    Don't miss the nice italian selection of quartinos so you can try a few.

    Have fun.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BeachGrub

      Thanks for the great suggestions, BeachGrub! My hubby and I have reservations tonight at 6:00 p.m. (I'm already hungry after reading your reply!)

    2. Okay Chowers, went to Coccle Laboratorio del Gusto last night for dinner, and here's my review: First the ambiance: Two separate rooms, both long and narrow, could feel claustrophobic, but doesn't! Warmly lit, and sparsely decorated. Tables for two are a little close together, but didn't seem to be a problem for us. We were fortunate enough to get "Kevin" as our server. He was warm, friendly, unpretenious, and incredibly knowledgable about wine. My husband was going to order the Pino Nero, and Kevin suggested that we taste the Rosso di Montaleino instead,... wow, so smooth,... what a great call!

      Kevin briefly explain to us the history and the style of Coccole, Chef Collete, the real meaning of "slow cooked", how their dishes are really made "to order", how time is taken between courses, and how experience will probably be different that we would expect from an Italian restaurant. Different it was! We first were given a taster of slices freshly baked baguette, spread with something that tasted like tapenade, but wasn't.

      Then we got our appetizer: We decided to go with the standard bruschetta, although Kevin explain to us that it wouldn't be like your standard bruchetta. He was absolutely right, not standard at all, outstanding instead! The fresh baguette were rubbed with garlic, as opposed to being spread with garlic paste (like many restaurants do) or having chopped garlic mixed in with the tomatoes. Kevin explained that if you mix in garlic with the tomatoes, it takes away from the taste of the tomatoes, and speaking of tomatoes, the owners only use hand-picked cherry tomatoes (what a difference!). It was probably the best bruchetta I've ever had, if not the most authentic! We then split the Garibaldi salad, which was a spinich salad, but with fresh pear slices, toasted hazelnuts, and gorganzola cheese. Really good, but I would like to have tried something like the All Grangila salad, which is a grilled romaine salad. The diners next to us got the Linguini Con Pancetta pasta as an appetizer, and it looked so creamy and delicious, that I wanted to reach over with my fork and get some! I instead asked them what they thought of the dish, and they were so happy, they could barely get any words out! I noticed that many of the diners ordered pasta an an appetizer instead of the bruchetta that we ordered or the Stormatino (sort of a flan) appetizers (which I really wanted,... maybe next time).

      As for the entrees: My husband ordered the Bocconcini di Maiale ai Fruitti de Bosco, which was chucks of pork simmered all day in rosemany, raseberries, cranberries, blueberries, sage, carrot, onions, and served with oven-roasted potatoes. It almost look to me like a brown stew that fell apart because it cooked too long, but when I had taste of it, I almost fell over! It was savory and sweet, and the pork was so tender it almost didn't require chewing! I could taste the sweetness of the fruit in the sauce, and it balanced the richness of the pork perfectly. My husband loved it so much, he got selfish and wouldn't let me have any more. I ordered the Filletto alle Noccible e Marsala, which was slices of fliet mignon in a marsala sauce with toasted hazelnuts. Indeed it was slices of filet mignon in marsala sauce, but the winner in this dish was definately the sauce. So buttery and rich, I could've just had the sauce with bread and been in heaven. My only problem with this dish was that I like my steaks rare, and with this dish you don't get a choice: medium... but it was so good, I didn't really notice! Chef Collette only uses vegetables that are absolutely the freshest and in season at that time. They only had one special that night, a fresh Chilean Sea Bass pan seared with garlic, shallots, and white wine, it sounded great and it was my second choice. Next time my husband wants to try the Linguine con Vongole (linguini with manila clams), and I'm leaning towards the seabass (if they have it), the halibut, or the Pollo alla Marengo (garlic seared chicken slow cooked in white wine, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and served with shrimp and a poached egg).

      Lastly, we shared a dessert that, although I don't remember what it was called, was a chocolate hazelnut truffle dream-come-true! They only had two items on their dessert menu that night, and Kevin explained that "it was a work in progress", and by the next time we visit, they'll have a more impressive dessert menu.

      Coccole sells their wine by the glass, by the bottle (if you bring your own, their corkage fee is minimal... I think it was $9), and by the "quatrine", which is about 1/3 of a bottle. We ended up getting two quatrines of the Rosso. However, I strong suggest that you let your server do the picking for you, they all seem to be extremely well educated in wine pairings.

      Coccole's menu is set up in the true European Italian order of eating: Wine first, appetizers, pasta, salad, main course, and dessert. While we personally didn't go that route, I did notice many of the other diners doing so. It seems like alot of food conceptually, but as we found out, Coccole takes their time between courses (which Kevin explained to us: "slow cooking" really means what it means), and once you relax and accept that, you'll realize that slowing down and truly enjoying the food instead of rushing through the courses actually causes you NOT to overeat, or have the "too full" feeling afterwards. That's Coccole's mission, I think, to make us slow down and enjoy not only the food, but the experience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kealoha

        Excellent review. This place is just down the street so I will definitely check it out. It also sounds like I should get a babysitter so we'll have our nanny stay late to take care of the baby.

        We have taken our son (18 months now but he has been going out to nice restaurants pretty much since he was about 2 months old) to a lot of places. We always get the first reservation (around 5pm usually) and there are almost always other kids there and it's not too bad. We are out by 6:30 or so and nobody seems to be bothered.

        Matsuhisa in particular usually has a decent number of kids in their early seatings.

        ...just a tip for those with kids who want to dine out but can't get a sitter for the night. and of course there are places where you are an idiot if you try to take your small kids (the french laundry comes to mind).


      2. jrobe, did you check out this review?

        8 Replies
        1. re: kealoha

          Long review, I know, but worth a read!

          1. re: kealoha

            does anyone know if this place is appropriate for kids?

            1. re: Goofy Yno

              I'd say no -at least based on my criteria:
              small space (intimate to me but familes may feel too tightly packed)
              sophisticated menu (I do not think they have a kids menu)
              "slow food" philosophy (some dishes can take 20 mins to prepare-I don't care-more time to savor another quartino of wine)

              Not sure if this helps. I guess it may depend on your kids.

              1. re: Goofy Yno

                I agree with Denisble. Kids would get restless between courses.

                1. re: kealoha

                  My wife and I ate here Fri. night. Robert was our waiter, whom we knew from the recently closed Rae’s. He makes great deserts, but has just started to work here. We ordered two different quatrines of wine for our meal, which worked beautifully with the food. The tables are a little close and while we were eating, the table for six next to us filled with an older gentleman, a younger man and three little boys. The kids were loud and had toys, parts of which flew our way occasionally. It was hard to enjoy a quiet dinner for two and relish the interaction of the wine with the food with that going on. WHY would you take 3 little boys to a slow food Italian restaurant with a fairly complex menu? Come on Dad! Those active, good looking kids wanted to go to Ruby’s Diner, etc. for milkshakes and the like.

                  1. re: BN1

                    thanks to all for your replies. BN1, I think you were referring to me? My two boys are used to eating at nicer restaurants. I feel there is no reason for my wife and I to miss out on quality food because the kids are in toe. they tend to order pasta in butter where ever we go so I thought it might be a good place to go on a babysitter-less night.
                    But the slow food issue might be a problem. and I'd hate to disrupt other tables if they are that close. so we usually get one night to ourselves, this may be the place. are reservations essential?

                2. re: Goofy Yno

                  Decided to go last night with a good friend. We early reservations and were soon joined by a woman with two little girls. The younger one proceeded to bang her untensils incessantly while the mom stared off into space. This continued for several min. but seemed like an eternity. The woman had no consideration for the irritating disruption her child was making. I don't blame the kid, she was probably three years old. I blame the lack of parenting.

                  The service was wonderful, Meredith our server never rushed us, and assisted us with wonerful reccomendations. The food was definitely leaned towards the heavy side. Started with the gorgonzola flan and pastry baskets. The flan was light and took the edge of my appetite and nerves. The pastry baskets were swimming in a pool of gorgonzola and basalmic. The pastry was tough and I feared cutting it with a fork would send a morsel kareening into the eye of a fellow diner. My friend and I chatted and enjoyed aour wine and never felt rushed to order the next course. Meredith did make the assumption that we were only having wine and appetizers. We let her know we were here for the whole evening and all the courses. We ordered the grilled hearts of romaine. It arrived at our table beautifully dressed. The smokiness was apparent throughout the lightly charred and grill-wilted leaves. The parmesean was not as pronounced as I had hoped for.

                  For our pasta selection we split the gnocci with four cheese sauce. The gnocci was expertly executed and the cream sauce was pure comfort. I would have eaten the whole bowl myself if I didn't take the time to consider the consequences to devouring the entire "heart attack in-a-bowl".

                  We also ordered the slow roasted pork. The meat was resembled kalua pig but with rasins. It was too sweet for my taste. Perhaps it had been slow-cooked too long. There was one chunk of meat among the gravy and shredded meat. IMHO the crunch and texture of the potatoes were beautiful. But the stew could have used a more savory potato to offset the sweetness of the stew. It just barely missed that umph factor by a hair.

                  Pannacotta was light and creamy with the right amount of lemon essence. Overall a nice dining experiene. We spent over four hours at dinner chatting and enjoying the great service and the food. I definitely will return and hopefully, the symphony of cutlery will not be performing that evening.

                  1. re: gaylenwaydelich

                    we dined here last week. a wonderful effort. you can tell they are trying for something special. we had some issues with poor service (including an appetizer my wife ordered for dinner that was not right and never made it out of the kitchen, but my fish was already at the table by this point.- they handled it beautifully by bringing a cheese plate while we waited then had the chef (who is not a extrovert) come out to explain).
                    the food oozed love. the Sea bass was outrageously good. My only food complaint is that the chef must have lost her salt shaker cause everything needed salt. I think in time this place will bloom.

            2. my gf read your review on coccole and she dragged me there. I'm glad she did. Great call on the slow-cooked pork dish which name I cannot pronouce, it was fantastic! And I agree that they need more of a dessert menu, but with such great food, who really cares about dessert?

              2 Replies
              1. re: ilike2eat

                Port is considered dessert, isn't it?!? And they have a great Port selection here!

                1. re: kealoha

                  we did have a very tasty afterdinner port, but i don't remember what our server brought us, but it really didn't matter, we were already in heaven from the food!

              2. glad I found this review, I have been driving to manhattan for these types of dinners, but I drive by laboratorio every day and still haven't tried it!

                4 Replies
                1. re: zkaudio

                  where in mb are you talking about? there is nothing like laboratorio in mb that i can imagine!

                  1. re: ilike2eat

                    I am more referring to restaurants where I can go and plan on drinks and the meal taking over 2hrs. Thalia's comes to mind, towne, and avenue are fun places.

                    1. re: zkaudio

                      Talia's is really good, and Mangiamo's is great as well. But it's a different kind of experience than Coccole.

                      1. re: kealoha

                        I am trying Coccole this weekend. Do you think that it is now experienced enough to hold a party of 10 with ease? Because of its slow-cook model, will they have the ability to get food out in a timely manner and cover their dining room(s) appropriately?