I’ve never been to Italy. I’ve always wanted to go, but for years my European wanderlust has always landed me in Spain. Have I mentioned I love Spain? I can almost hear you all groaning. Alright, alright, back to Italy. Any foodie worth his salt has undoubtedly dreamt of eating their way up and down the country and I am no different. While the rest of my body waits to make its way over to the land of pizza and pasta, at least my tastebuds can get a “Tour of Italy” at Midtown’s Bocce Ristorante.
Created by Naples-born chef, Nunzio Fuschillo, Bocce’s “Tour of Italy” features a mix of classic and contemporary dishes inspired by traditional Italian markets that are all authentic thanks to the sourcing of the best ingredients available from both northern and southern Italy.
After a preliminary baguette, Salsiccia e Peperoni pizza, and Aperol Spritz cocktail, I was ready to embark on my journey. Who am I kidding, I was honestly stuffed already at this point, but I’m a trooper and with six more courses coming my way, I unbuttoned my big boy pants and went to work.
The first stop on the official tour took me to Sicily and a delightful bite of Polipo Grigliato. The grilled octopus was joined by oven-roasted eggplant, black olive paste, red pepper purée, and arugula pesto.
Next, the tour continued to across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Campania and a taste of Supplì di Riso a.k.a. crispy Carnaroli rice balls with mozzarella and tomato.
Continuing up to Tuscany, the Pappardelle ai Funghi was the first pasta of the tour. The house-made wide-ribbon pasta was perfectly al dente and smothered in a homey mushroom ragù.
Inspired by Emilia Romagna and Liguria respectively, the next two courses included Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (house-made flat-ribbon pasta in a beef short rib sauce with Parmesan) and Branzino (Mediterranean sea bass with herbed bread crumbs, orange purée, and grilled green beans).
Finally, to end the meal on a sweet note we headed to Venice for some Tiramisu, a dessert that I usually don’t like yet somehow enjoyed at Bocce. Maybe it was because after all this food, my tastebuds had basically applied for Italian citizenship.
Mitch’s take: I tried Bocce’s “Tour of Italy” tasting menu as a part of a Gilt City deal a little while back, and while I’m not completely sure if it’s still available as a regular offering, I’d recommend you ask anyway. It can’t hurt, right? Worst case scenario, the servers can guide you through your own tasting experience based on the regular menu. The best, they’ll make it happen for you. Either way, you’ll leave happy and satisfied.
Standout dishes: A seafood lover at heart, I would definitely make a return trip for the octopus and branzino.