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Sep 18, 2010 07:52 AM

rocca or union tonight?

never been to either. thanks!

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  1. Been to both recently, had great meals at each. Union has been around much longer: handsome room, good bar, menu of very good if unchallenging New American fare. Recently revamped menu has been a boon to people like me who were tiring of a mostly unchanging menu they had for years. Always outstanding service, a real hole card here.

    Rocca has a new chef doing a very seafood-heavy Northern Italian menu, rather creative and a bit more uneven. The restaurant has an ugly, modern upstairs dining room but a beautiful first-floor bar and a gorgeous patio (with heaters that keep it comfy even now that it's cooling off). Decent bartending and wines. Service is much more uneven, though: some nights I get great service, but I've also had a couple of middling service experiences and one fiasco there in recent months. I wish they could hit on all cylinders with greater consistency, as I do like the new chef's food.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      thanks for response. probably should have gone with union based on your review, but had read many good things recently about rocca. went and was disappointed. waiter was terrible- really, messed up several things, forgot things, generally just couldn't be found. food was good- liked the crispy artichokes and melon burrata salad. raw scallop app, scallop entree and carrot pasta envelopes just ok. couldn't even get our waiters attention for another glass of wine! won't be going back.

      1. re: gingersnap

        It's very frustrating when a place has great food but can't get its service act together. I don't understand what Rocca's problem is, but this has been a persistent issue that precedes (and I'd venture must be unrelated to) the kitchen regime change.

        The management here are supposed to be old pros, yet I can't seem to get two meals in a row without a major service lapse. The problem can't just be poor expediting, which I've speculated is why under the former chef I routinely got dishes that arrived at the table cold (they seem to have finally licked that one.). So, is it lack of training? Understaffing? Bad floor management? Something funademental is lacking, and the rollercoaster is maddening. You get great service, think, "Aah, maybe they've finally sorted it out," and then on your next visit, you get marooned on the patio for twenty minutes before a server makes an appearance. It makes Rocca difficult to recommend.

        I already know South End locals who have given up, sworn off the place for good, despite liking the food. I was in that boat myself, and only came back to try Faison's cooking, which is very good and occasionally brilliant. But a couple more crap service experiences and I won't being going back either, and I'll tell anyone that asks what a gamble it represents. Union's food may not be as exciting, but they trump it with consistently excellent service. If Rocca wants to enjoy the same longevity, it will have to slay its service consistency bugbear.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          mc, i don't know if they are typos or if i am simply lacking in the trendy phrase dept., but would you plse educate me about the meanings of:
          a real hole card here
          service consistency bugbear.
          thanks much.

          p.s. couldn't agree with you more re:Union. Their professional and authentically helpful waitstaff is most admirable and, coupled with very good food, keeps us returning here and to Aquitaine. The shocking thing about the superior waitstaff is that they survive on tips alone. Their weekly paycheck equals their workmen's comp tax(i think that's how the waitress explained it to me when i asked her.) So tip them well....

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            At the risk of getting a bit off-topic- I have worked as a waiter at 8 or so Boston-area restaurants, and the hourly wage is always the same- $2.63/hr. If you have health insurance offered from the employer, once it is deducted from your check, this hourly wage isn't even enough to cover social security and medicare tax, so you end up owing not only all of your federal and state income tax for the year, but also a bunch of soc. sec. and medicare tax! This on top of receiving $0 paychecks all year, living on tips. If you do NOT have health insurance deducted from your check, soc. sec. and medicare will be taken care of, but you still receive $0 paychecks all year and owe thousands at the end of the year! No joke. Boston waiters live on tips, and tips only.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              "Hole card" is a poker term, referring to a card in your hand that other players can't see until the showdown, so figuratively, a strength revealed when it counts.

              Bugbear can mean "bogeyman", a mythical child-eating creature you tell your kids about to get them to behave, but in a figurative sense, it's any stubborn annoyance or problem.