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70th Birthday Dinner--Taranta, Bacco or Rocca?

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My FIL's 70th birthday is this Saturday and I've just been appointed party planner. There are very few restaurants that can accommodate a table for 8 at 8pm on a Saturday, but I've found availablity at Taranta, Bacco and Rocca.

Criteria is good food, nice atmosphere that allows conversation and a great martini.

Which of the 3 should we visit? Hoping to make a decision by this afternoon.

Thanks!

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  1. Upstairs at Taranta.

    1. The only one that fits all of your requirements is Rocca. Upstairs at Taranta is great and the food is oustanding - but no martinis. Bacco is meh to sub meh.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Northender

        Missed that martini request negating Taranta. Too bad OP didn't have more lead time to get the large table up front at Prezza that we've used for groups.

        1. re: Taralli

          I tried Prezza and they were a no go :(

      2. Ok I am clearly out of the loop but I don't even know of Bacco??? Is it in the North End? Regardless,, I think Rocca is a good choice....a nice atmosphere, good food, not too loud, all-in-all a nice spot for a celebratory dinner. Plus they have free parking, clearly a rarity in the south end. Enjoy!

        2 Replies
        1. re: twentyoystahs

          Bacco is on the corner of Parmenter and Salem Street. A two level bar that serves food but it is more of a cafe. Large and a little noisy - probably a fun place for a drink but not a dinner destination.

          1. re: twentyoystahs

            Well, I didn't love Rocca, but I'm extremely picky about Italian food, and I think they do many things well, just not my style. The atmosphere and service are both very good, and it seems a good choice for a large group.

          2. Thanks everyone for the recommendations. I decided to do Taranta and have pre-dinner drinks to get that martini. We did drinks at Ivy which was great--not super crowded and there's such a nice atmosphere there. I've never gone and not had dinner but it's a nice spot to hang out.

            Classic and speciality cocktails were well made and delicious. Service was a little slow but the bartender was patient and friendly.

            On to Taranta. Fabulous experience start to finish. Our waiter was knowledgeable and personable, joking with our table and keeping everything flowing. He took orders for 3 courses for 8 people without writing anything down and everything was correct.

            Appetizers: We got the calzoncini fritti, which are little pillows of deliciousness stuffed with leeks and mozzarella, beef tenderloin and baccala. They went fast and each one was super tasty. I will dream about this dish for a long time.

            We also got the mussels which I didn't have due to a shellfish allergy, and they went fast. Sounds like the broth was amazing.

            Antipasto platter rounded out the bunch and it was all right, good but nothing special.

            For salads, everyone but I got the spinach salad and were unpleasantly surprised by the inclusion of beets. I got the caprese salad and it was just okay. Tomatoes were a little mealy and the balsamic very sweet.

            I had the mushroom pappardelle which was excellent, full of earthy mushroom flavor. The pasta was fresh and cooked perfectly and the parmesan on top balanced everything nicely. 100% yum.

            My husband had the sugar cane glazed pork chop which was delicious but obscenely large. The sauce was sweet/spicy and very interesting.

            A couple of other people had the spinach/gorgonzola ravioli special. This didn't get rave reviews but nobody hated it.

            My FIL had the lobster ravioli and loved it, very fresh and flavorful.

            BIL had the tuna which looked beautiful, perfectly rare and a beautiful presentation.

            Less adventurous BIL had the chicken (wah wah) which he said was good.

            Unsolicited, the waiter brought a little cake and sang happy birthday to my FIL which was nice. He also gave me a taste of their speciality drink, a Pisco sour. Delicious, light and citrusy. He also thanked me for being a repeat customer, and I will DEFINITELY be back after this experience.

            After dinner we went to the Four Seasons for after-dinner drinks and dessert. We had the Share It tower which looked beautiful and tasted like supermarket cake. Disappointing. As you'd expect, the service was phenomenal, and I had a lovely pot of hot chocolate while the rest of the family had coffee with Bailey's or port. The dessert buffet was out and next time I will definitely hit it...petit fours, tiny creme brulees and a vase full of gumballs made it hard to resist. As always, it was a great venue to relax, enjoy and people watch, very cushy and warm.

            All in all, a wonderful (if VERY expensive) evening.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MenuPorn

              Sounds like you made an excellent plan! I love Taranta ( the extra special service touches are another reason to go there) Thanks for reporting back.