Dinner at Bocca, 12/14/07
Friday, December 14, 2007 at 3:37PM
The Lady Who Lunches in Restaurant reviews

It had literally been months since my darling Kevin and I had seen each other. A dinner date was long overdue, so we decided to meet up for a bite at Flatiron's newest Italian, Bocca. I hadn't heard too much about the restaurant, but the few reviews that I'd read had been positive. My first hint about the outcome of this meal was the fact that upon making my reservation on opentable.com, I was awarded 1000 points to dine at Bocca. That seemed quite generous, since the average amount of points given per restaurant is a mere 100. Hmmm, very suspicious.

The evening was chilly and I'd gotten off of work at 5:30. What's a girl to do for an hour and a half before dinner? Instead of doing any more holiday shopping damage to my credit card, I decided to head to the restaurant early and grab a drink. I arrived at Bocca
around 6:30 p.m. and informed the host that I would wait for my guest at the bar. Since there wasn't an empty seat, he told me that I could be seated...incomplete party and all!

The host grabbed two menus and a wine list, and led me to the dining room. We had to pardon ourselves from the bar patrons clogging the walkway about three times before approaching the main room. I felt like I was on a busy subway car, trying to make my way through the ocean of people. Yuck. Once we reached the completely empty room, I was told that I could choose to be seated at any table. Duh! This was both wonderful and creepy at the same time.

Finally seated, I was able to take in the space and decor. It was obvious that the restaurant was renovated prior to opening. The walls and banquettes were a peppy mustard yellow with dark chocolate colored tables and a beautifully paneled wood ceiling. The lighting was perfectly dim and pleasant and the background music was festive and jazzy. Unfortunately, the bar was built out too far, making the walkway from the hostess stand to the dining room virtually grid locked (should there be bar patrons). I would estimate two feet of space from the back of a bar stool to the wall. What if an obese person is trying to pass through? Another gripe would the restaurant's crappy acoustics.

After perusing the cocktail/wine list, I decided to order prosecco with raspberry puree. Ten long minutes later, I received my beverage. Good thing I wasn't wearing a light colored skirt! My champagne glass was carelessly splattered with raspberry puree, but my waiter was far away and too busy flirting with the other waitress to care.
More diners began to arrive around 6:55 p.m. Kevin sent me a text message saying that he was close, so I decided to peruse the menu. There was a prix-fixe enclosure that boasted two courses for $20.95. What a deal! Everything sounded delicious. Finally, Kevin arrived. After catching up for a bit, our wannabe-model waiter approached and took our drink orders. I asked if there were any specials for the evening, and he mumbled a couple in his strong Italian accent. Noticing the prix-fixe enclosure in our menus, the waiter told us that we were given the lunch menu and prix fixe is not available at dinner. What a buzz kill! We were not served bread like the other tables were; I had to ask for it. When it finally arrived, we were both starving, so I'm not sure if I could give you an accurate review of the bread and olive oil, as I'm sure anything would have tasted delicious at that point. My blood was boiling!
After what seemed like an hour, our aloof waiter returned to take our food orders. I went with the "homemade" ricotta and spinach ravioli with shrimps and caper berries, and Kevin ordered an arugula salad and the filet mignon.

Kevin's salad arrived about fifteen minutes later. I ordered another drink, which never ended up coming. Lovely. I guess Mr. Aloof was too busy flirting or looking at himself in the mirror to remember. Finally, our entrees arrived. Both plates looked wonderful and we were both excited to dig in. Kevin's filet was served atop a potato pancake and surrounded by braised Brussels sprouts and drizzled with pan gravy. He seemed satisfied with his meal. My dish arrived with about five raviolis which were swimming in a shallow tomato broth and topped with chunks of grilled shrimp and three caper berries. The menu had said that the raviolis were homemade, but after tasting my first bite, I begged to differ. The ricotta and spinach interior was dry and the tomato sauce was fishy. The shrimp were tasty, but the caper berries were cold. To make matters worse, we were seated next to this shady and obnoxious couple who were obviously friends of the owner and were being treated like royalty, while we got treated like peasants. Argh!!

Kevin and I were completely underwhelmed by Bocca. The service was among the worst I've experienced in Manhattan and the food was boring, too expensive and falsely advertised. I wanted to slap our waiter so bad; I almost had to restrain myself. Nothing pisses me off more than employees in the service industry who completely don't get the definition of service and hospitality. Oh ya, and one more thing to note to self: Never trust an opentable.com restaurant you've never been to that will give you 1000 points upon dining. Chances are, it's gonna suck!

, I won't be bacca!

Article originally appeared on The Lunch Belle (http://www.thelunchbelle.com/).
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