For the Doughnut
“There’s a food critic in the house!”
By Jan Walsh
Kev and I ended my birthday week with dinner at Bocca Ristorante. We arrive at Chef Tom Saab’s Italian sister restaurant to his French, Bistro 218, to find a valet and our favorite table waiting.
We enjoy a table visit with Chef de Cuisine, Che Gaines. He is very professional and personable in the front of the house. And a CIA trained talent in the kitchen. The following day he shares his behind the scenes video with me on Instagram, which captures the moment he learns that I am in the restaurant… flipping out with excitement. His passion and energy are obviously contagious to the culinary staff. I watch as he dances while making my doughnut as he announces to the back end staff, There’s a food critic in the house! I told you the doughnut would bring them out…” I am honored and humbled.
Actually I did not know about the Italian Butter Crunch Doughnut until our server, Travis, who knows me well, suggested it. One bite, and I am the one flipping out… over this scrumptious synthesis of toffee, walnuts, almonds, and a salted caramel (be still my heart) ice cream atop, enveloped in fresh blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries in cream. Highly recommended! And I will come back for the divine doughnut…
Wine Director/Sommelier, Carlos Cisneros pairs a lovely dessert wine: Belcaro Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2010 with the doughnut. Other drinks we enjoy and recommend tonight include a serious signature cocktail of Zenzero and a fizzy Cleto Charlie Lambrusco Vecchia Modena.
Back to the beginning… our dinner starts Arancini di Riso and Spicy Veal Meatballs. The golden croquettes arrive atop a vibrant vodka sauce. One bite and I realize this risotto is perhaps the best I have ever tasted. The rice is a longer grain than typical. And I later learn from Chef Saab that it is Carnaroli. This medium grain, Italian rice has a higher starch content and a firmer texture than Arborio. Kev had the meatballs on our last dinner at Bocca, and could not resist this tried and true dish. The tender bombs of beef are plated in marinara. In each bite the meat, cheese, and tomato meld together in this savory sensation. Both starters are finished with grana padano with basil.
As entrees we select Cast Iron Seared Tuscan Ribeye and Scallop Risotto. The quality of the beef and seafood at Bocca is unsurpassed, such as this tender, rich, and buttery ribeye. The steak is enhanced by tomato butter and accompanied by fire roasted tomatoes, Tuscan kale, a gorgeous, golden potato gnocchi. My delicate, plump scallops are perfectly seared with a golden crown atop, milky inside, and melt in the mouth. They float on a creamy vegetable risotto of the same Carnaroli rice. I would also come back just for the risotto!
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