July 8, 2009

Bocca Lupo

I've been to Bocca Lupo several times over the years, as my aunt and uncle live a stone's throw away. We went here a few times during visits, and I rediscovered how much I liked it upon moving to NY. Jennifer and I have gone a couple of times together, so I'll stick to those experiences.

The first visit was a Sunday afternoon, and we needed a quick-ish meal between visiting my family and going to the movie. They were uncrowded and the wait staff was super friendly.The menu consists of several bruschettas that change seasonally, cheese plates, meat plates, paninis, sides (mostly veggies), and one daily pizza, pasta and risotto. We ordered some bruschetta-- butternut squash with hazelnut, tomato, mozzarella and basil, poached pear, and a sausage one. They were all delicious, but note that they are difficult to split (i.e., cut in two). The standouts were the butternut squash (nutty, lightly sweet, so good) and the sausage (salty porky goodness), but they were all worth trying.

We also ordered the banana and nutella panini for dessert to go. We were in a rush, so we ate it as we walked to the theater. Picture this: each of us stuffing pieces of said panini into our mouths while walking briskly down the sidewalk, powdered sugar EVERYWHERE, us both incomprehensibly mumbling about how freakin good it was. Yeah, we got some looks. But if we had been run over by a bus, we would have died happy in that moment.

On the next visit, the bruschetta menu was totally different, and we were disappointed. I ordered a sausage and broccoli rabe panini and we split a side of zucchini with almonds. The panini was definitely good, a stand-by for my uncle, but a little overly salty. The zucchini was a nice side, enough for two.

Probably the best part about Bocca Lupo is that it is a small neighborhoody place. The menu is dependable and has just enough options. Great place to take a date or a small group. -Laurel

As Laurel said, the first time we went to Bocca Lupo, we were amazed. From the moment we sat down and looked around at other people's plates, I was itching for some good food. The woman to the left of us was eating asparagus, and I instantly convinced Laurel we must have some. Glad I did. Lemony and cooked just right - not too squishy and not too hard - the asparagus was a great compliment to our many bruschettas.

Speaking of which, the bruschetta. All of them were supremely delicious. The butternut squash was my favorite - sweet and not at all stringy like a lot of squash can be, and the hazelnut was a great touch. The pear was the perfect amount of sweet and salty, the sausage was the perfect amount of unhealthy, and the tomato, mozzarella and basil was the perfect amount of...um, tomato, mozzarella, and basil. We ate one at a time, each going in a different order and ranting and raving about how good they were. Ambiance wise, The wait staff were helpful and patient, and the people dining there were nice as well.

Of course, the nutella panini was off the charts delicious, especially when walking fast down a street and laughing about the intense amounts of whipped cream, chocolate, and powdered sugar all over our faces, clothes, hands...everywhere.

The second time wasn't terribly disappointing, but I was very sad the menu had changed. The bruschetta we had before was sooooo good, and I couldn't eat a lot of the options they offered second go around because of one or two leafy ingredients. And the asparagus was also gone.

We quickly searched for a substitute for the asparagus, and decided to go for the zucchini with pine nuts. Unfortunately, the zucchini was cold. It was also slightly limp and had almost no flavor. Sad. As for the panini, I desperately wanted the sausage, but I couldn't have broccoli rabe. Now that I think about it, I guess I could have asked for it without the rabe, but I remember how I wanted to preserve the flavor. That was dumb. Either way, I chose the Triple P (ok, plus M) panini: proscuitto, porchetta, piave, and mascarpone. Pretty good. Wasn't blown away, but it definitely fulfilled my appettite.

And of course we got the nutella panini. Must admit, not as good in a civilized fashion...on a table, with a fork. I actually prefer to have my food all over my body. I think it tastes better. -Jennifer

Address: 391 Henry St (Brooklyn)

Website: http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/Bocca-Lupo/

Payment: credit or cash

Delivery: no

Open Late: 2 AM on weekends

Large Group Friendly: better for small gatherings, does not take reservations

Bar/Happy Hour: full bar

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