For the last couple of months, every time we were heading downtown and didn’t already have dinner plans, I’ve gone to Boccalupo’s web site and tried to make a reservation. Before today, the only option I’ve been given was for 10:15 PM, three or four Saturdays ago. When I clicked the button today, options for 5:30 and 5:45 popped up and I chose the latter.
Located on Edgewood Avenue, just west of the bridge that’s been under construction forever, the signage from Edgewood is difficult to see. At the last minute, we saw the sign above on the side of the building, turned up that street and parked around back. For everyone else’s sake, if you park behind the building, walk toward Edgewood and there’s a walkway that you can’t see from much of that parking lot – it takes you straight to the front door. We walked around the block.
When we walked in, we were two of six people in the place, and were seated in the east-most front corner, looking back into the restaurant proper. Just on the other side of the banquette above there’s a bar and there’s also a large room which appears to have walls that open (allowing for outdoor seating – they were closed tonight) to the right of the bar. Our server told us the daily specials and when Jo heard the words “shaved truffles” in one of the entrees, she stopped listening. I knew what she would be having.
For starters, she chose the marinated baby beets, speck (smoked prosciutto – we asked), gorgonzola, green farro and kumquat. While we were waiting, there was discussion that today was the final test of beet salads – if this one wasn’t good, she was finished with them. Shortly after this fine looking salad arrived, I knew the romance wasn’t over. Long live the beet salad! She was kind enough to share some of the speck (it seems that when prosciutto is smoked, it gains a waxy texture – at least it has for the two of us, on the last two occasions) and it was tasty, as was her farro.
I was trying to decide between the proscuitto flatbread and the octopus dish – the server said go with the octopus. So I had the octopus & mortadella (a relative of bologna) spiedino (minced meat, batter-dipped and fried on a skewer), shell beans, escarole and marsala. The mortadella portion of it was smoky and wonderful. The octopus was okay, but I think I would have preferred the dish with pure mortadella.
For dinner, Jo followed her beet salad with one of the evenings specials – a twenty yolk-tagliatelle with shaved truffles in a wine, oil and butter sauce.When I asked how it was, I received a one word answer “sinful”. According to our sever, the 20-yolks in the tagliatelle make for a very light pasta. According to our taste buds, she was right. I tried the pasta (not being a mushroom fan, I forsook the truffles) and I understood her description – how can a pasta dish with wine, butter and oil not be decadently tasty? As end of the meal neared, I had finished and they asked if they could clear the plates. With three bites left in hers, my beloved answered with a snarl and the young man backed away, slowly.
I had the crispy white lasagna with a fontina fondutta and watercress.The server described it as comfort food and she was right – it made my stomach feel happy to eat it. The lasagna is made in the morning, allowed to “set”, then battered and pan seared prior to serving. The searing made the lasagna, which was filled with a mix of chicken and veal, a little dry, but dipping it in the fondutta (which was like the bechamel sauce you’d have on a croque monsieur and was absolutely heavenly) made for a delicious dish.
I understand why everyone has been talking about BoccaLupo. It was excellent. And comfortable. And reasonable. Talking in the car on the way home, we decided we’d go back. And maybe try something different.