Broke my usual rule of giving new restaurants a few weeks/months to get their groove going, and checked out Rocca last night with two friends. Arrived early for our reservation and had a glass of wine at the little bar upstairs. The bar area downstairs was HOPPING but our little space was nice and calm.
Two of us asked for sauvignon blanc which they don't have so the bartender made a great recommendation which we really enjoyed. And at $6.50 a glass what a value! (Side note: the wine list is very extensive and reasonable. Many bottles in the $30 range which is a rarity in Boston these days).
The space is enormous and beautiful. The bar is in the cavernous front area with two-story glass walls so it was very loud, but the noise did not follow us to our table.
The menu has several sections: tastes, appetizers, pastas, and entrees. Our waiter explained them thus: tastes are just a "bite," apps are as you would expect, pastas are the same size as an appetizer portion and entrees, are, well, entrees. He recommended we go with apps, pasta, entrees, but we thought that sounded like too much food (he's a young man who clearly has a very healthy appetite!) so we went with tastes, apps, and pastas.
We started with a "taste" each: I had the "twice cooked artichokes" with aoli. I'd say that for me it was about 5 bites...for a larger person it might have been 3. But it was delicious. One DC had a prociutto and fontina pizzette which was much larger and very delicious. Third DC had the fish sticks with pesto sauce, also larger than my 'chokes. Fish was almost a tempura presentation. Very good although my friend said it might have been a tad on the too salty side.
Next course: two of us had "Appetizers" from that section and the third went for another taste - the meatball slider, not really a slider as I understand them but more of a mini meatball sub (one meatball). She enjoyed it. I had the prosciutto, mozzarella, and arugula "sandwich" - which actually has no bread but is more the arugula and proscuitto sandwiched between the mozz with a deliciously intense balsamic drizzle on the plate. Other DC had the shrimp scampi appetizer - three good-sized shrimp with a spicy salad accompaniment (I didn't taste but my friend enjoyed it).
Last course - we all went for items from the pasta section. Linguini with rock shrimp - flavorful and fresh. Gnocchi with meat sauce was the winner of the three, in my book - perfectly cooked gnocchi and the sauce, so good! Tomato based with big bites of slow-braised beef that just melted in the mouth. We were joking that next time we go back we'd get that dish as our appetizer AND our entree! Third was the spring green panzotti with walnut sauce - not being a fan of walnuts I didn't try this but the panzotti looked delicious and my friend loved the sauce. This dish was noticeably smaller than either the linguini or the gnocchi.
The desserts that went by our table looked wonderful, but there just wasn't room.
Total, before tip and including a bottle of the same wine we had enjoyed at the bar was $119. I will absolutely go back, and try next time to leave room for dessert.
One other comment - there is definitely some inconsistency in portion sizes so be sure to ask your server for specifics on what you are considering if you are going for multiple courses.
The service was very friendly and attentive. Only minor blip was in the pasta dishes - two were mildly hot bordering on warm and only one was actually hot. Didn't affect our enjoyment at all, but it's worth noting.
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