Monday, June 7, 2010

Widening our wine bar horizons at Bocca di Bacco

Last week, on a particularly humid and balmy evening, AS and I ventured out for some food and drink. We ended up at Bocca di Bacco, a wine bar on Ninth Avenue that for some reason I've always passed by before. After a heated discussion among the hostesses, we were led to a table in the back, by the kitchen door (boo) but in the most AC-heavy part of the restaurant (yay... given the oppressive humidity and the balmy temps in the rest of the restaurant).

A bottle of wine was procured, and we started in on the bread that was placed on our table. Torn pieces of that common all-purpose bread often found around town-- flaky crust, chewy pull-apart insides-- paired well with the olive oil and started soaking up the wine immediately.


AS started with the Fava Fagioli soup. Billed as a creamy fava bean, spinach, mushroom, and goat cheese soup, this turned out to be both very hot and very good. The highlight was a little exploding sphere of goat cheese hidden in the depths of the bowl, waiting to explode in the mouth (careful).

Green soup

For an entree, I went with the arugula & taleggio salad, paired with walnuts and a honey mustard sauce/dressing. This was quite good-- the dressing was surprisingly sweet, but with the big chunks of taleggio and the crunch of the walnuts, the whole thing worked pretty well. I would have liked an extra sprinkle of salt over the whole thing, but that's just me. I like salt.

Cheese and greens

AS went for the classic tomato and mozzarella. This came beautifully plated, clearly composed with more care than was required for what's usually a throwaway appetizer. The tomatoes were fresh, the pesto vibrant, and the mozzarella was high quality and admirably creamy. One of the better capreses I've come across, certainly.

A beauty

We debated dessert but ultimately went with Cold Stone, a few blocks away. Turns out Bocca di Bacco was a pleasant surprise-- the atmosphere is rustic but comfortable, and the food is a bit better and a bit more upscale than you'd expect. I'd certainly go back, especially since there are a few other dishes on the menu that I'd like to try, so I'd say Bocca di Bacco earns its four Offset Spatulas handily.

Bocca di Bacco
828 Ninth Avenue, between 54th and 55th Streets

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