Last night we decided to try out the "new kid in the block" Bocci Bar at 16 North Central Avenue in downtown Clayton. It's always exciting when a restaurant opens and this one promises to be a welcome addition. Frank Schmitz, the owner of the highly popular tapas bar Barcelona, has created an informal northern Italian dining experience that gives a modern spin to Italian comfort food.
I particularly liked the way the floor to ceiling glass doors open to the sidewalk. It was a beautiful, warm night, and the excitement of finally having some decent weather was reflected in the number of people eating outside as well as those seated inside the open doors inside the restaurant.
We were seated at the banquet that runs most of the length of the north wall. It was extremely comfortable and even though we were seated next to a larger party, the acoustics were fine; my Honey and I did not need to shout at one another in order to have a conversation.
I started my meal with a Caprese Salad. The tomatoes were enormous! Even though they were winter tomatoes the creaminess of the house made mozzarella and the balsamic dressing made it a very good choice. I followed that with Veal Scalloppini with Sweet Peas, Spring Onions and Ramps. Ramps are actually wild leeks and are only available in the very early Spring, so this was a real treat. The veal was thicker than the usual scaloppini, but it was tender and had the most delicious gravy that I had to use a slice of the ciabatta, that is served in a cone cylinder at every table, to sop it up.
Chuck opted for the Italian Fish Stew. It was a generous serving of halibut, mussels, calamari and shrimp in a tomato saffron broth. He loved it. The broth was heavenly ( I got a taste ) and it was loaded with seafood.
For dessert we shared Citrus Tiramisu. It's listed as a "modern spring twist on the Italian classic", and it was. It is light and quite refreshing. It was served with two delicious cookies that were made by Frank's sister, Ellen Schmitz, who runs Mosaic Bistro and Market next door to Bocci. They are made with white chocolate and orange and they're really good, plus there was a chocolate dipped biscotti.
The coffee at Bocci is really wonderful. Each cup is made individually on a wonderful European espresso machine that dispenses a shot ( or two for a double ) of either regular or decaffeinated espresso.
The flavor is fantastic. I hadn't had coffee like that since my last trip to Italy.
Chuck and I decided to have full dinners, but you can choose from crostini, antipastos, salads, soups, pizzas, flatbreads, pastas, and full entrees and just mix, match and share from all of these items.
So do come and try out our new neighbor and see what all the excitement is about.
16 North Central Avenue