Rocca, last night (long)
We tried Rocca last night. Sage had a huge wait and I was hungry. Thought it would be a good idea to head over to Rocca. First surprise of the evening, there was complementary parking. This put a smile on my face. We took a bar table and ordered some drinks. The bartending was sub par. I am becoming used to the skilled bartending of places like No 9 Park, and Eastern Standard. When I see a bartender reach for canned juice, I balk at paying $10- $12 for that drink.
My wife and I shared a plate of mushrooms on toast from the tastes menu. Problem was there was no taste. The crouton, the mushrooms and the parmesan on top was with out flavor. Next up was the spring antipasto plate. Again with the bar being set ever higher by restaurants producing their own charcrouterie in house, when you are served something that could have been bought at Stop and Shop, you have to wonder if anybody in the kitchen really cares about it. The same flavorless parmesan shows up again in two nice sized pieces. It would have been better if the skin was removed. Prosciutto, was mangled, crammed into the center of the plate and needed to be peeled open to enjoy. Sadly there was the ever lingering lack of flavor. The menu description said that the antipasto was served with house made picked vegetables. Last night in early July with the farmers markets bulging with local produce the best Rocca can come up with is… a singular pickled green onion and two thin asparagus spears. The third appetizer that we shared was the gnocchi with pesto. I have to admit that I was craving some good gnocchi last night. The gnocchi were light and lovely, pretty much a text book example of how they should taste. The pesto sauce was missing something however. While it had enough basil and garlic, it just lay on the palate and didn’t jump up.
Our entrees took forever to arrive, at least 30 min. I had the roasted leg of lamb with white bean puree, fava been pesto and escarole. The lamb was cooked perfectly medium rare, seasoned well, but lacked the gaminess I like in lamb. The white bean puree was amazing, pure white bean flavor with a touch of garlic and some thing else that I still can’t place. The escarole was wonderful and the fava been pesto was much better that the pesto served with the gnocchi. My wife had the Veal Involtini stuffed with mozzarella, prosciutto & basil on a bed of herbed risotto with fresh tomato sauce. It looked nice but I didn’t try it.
Service was woefully slow until a second server came around and took over our table. After that other than the 30 wait for entrees everything went smoothly.
With the exception of the trofi pasta w/pesto, I have to agree with gutterman that a lot of the food was just ok and not overly compelling and/or flavorful. We also got that antipasto platter. Pretty small and again, just ok. We got some sort of flatbread that too, was nothing special. I, however, though the trofi was perfectly al dente and the pesto was deliciously garlicky and full of flavor. Definitely the highlight of the meal. The one time we went, we sat at the bar and service was fine. We, however, just got apps and small plates/pastas and didn't go for any of the entrees. I think that may be the way to go here.
Yes, the biggest benefit is the parking. Due to parking and the size of the place, I might return if I don't want to wait. Otherwise, I've been there twice, and both times, the service was chaotic and the food was okay, but nothing extraordinary. The place is also extemely LOUD. You can hear conversations across the room. Not the best dining experience at all.
thanks for the review. I can't help but feel that this place will only survive as an out-of-towner hot spot and won't really capture any of the neighborhood's vibe. The only big draw seems to be free parking. I'll give it a try eventually, but nothing is pulling me to Rocca for sure.