BoccaLupo: 8/23/13

Date Night likes to eat in the trendy neighborhoods near work. We can’t tell the difference between the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park, but we do know that both are full of fun places to eat. It’s only about three miles for us to drive to BoccaLupo, but it takes a long time due to detours caused by the Atlanta streetcar project. (Aside: $90 million for a streetcar line for tourists when the sidewalks are falling apart? But we digress…)

Welcome to historic Inman Park.
Welcome to historic Inman Park.

We finally reach our destination, an old house that has been converted to a restaurant. There’s a lot of money that has been spent on the conversion. There’s a huge patio, but it’s too cold to eat outside tonight, and it’s August! It has been a strange summer in Atlanta weather-wise.

Small dining room inside.  The outdoor area is larger.
Small dining room inside. The outdoor area is larger.

BoccaLupo has been here since April and we have heard good things about their pasta, which is all made here. We are greeted by our server Becky, who knows the menu and is a real pro. She brings us some bread sticks.

Bread sticks get you started.
Bread sticks get you started.

While we munch on the bread sticks, we gaze over the beer list. It’s a nice list, but there’s nothing on tap so we order from a variety of bottled brews.

Beer gets us started.
Beer gets us started.

Because it’s so cold, I go for a beer that I normally drink in the winter. The Left Hand bills itself as “America’s Stout” and they get no argument from me. It’s dark, creamy and smooth, the way all Americans like their stout. Eve stays on the east coast with an Allagash white from Maine. Allagash makes some great Belgian-style beers and this is another of their fine offerings.

While we figure out how to approach the menu, we get an appetizer.

Chicken liver with braised pork?  Why not?
Chicken liver with braised pork? Why not?

BoccaLupo likes to combine southern and Italian styles of cooking. The bruschetta with chicken liver and all-day braised pork does just that. This almost has an Asian flavoring, but is an interesting and tasty take on the bruschetta.

There is a four-course “tasting menu” that changes daily for $40 or you can order off of the menu. We decide to split the tasting menu, which may give us room to order an extra dessert, depending on portion size.

First up is a saffron pasta with lump crab, marscapone cheese, and sea beans.

Course one of four.
Course one of four.

The orange blob on the top is sea urchin. The pasta is incredibly good and we can already tell that this is going to be a good meal. We are scraping the sides of the bowl when this dish is done.

For our second course, squid pasta in a beef and pork broth with pork belly and green peanuts.

Squid ink makes the pasta black.
Squid ink makes the pasta black.

This is almost like a stew with the black pasta thrown in. It’s not too salty, which is a bonus.

It’s time for course three, which is gnocchi with a corn and chanterelle mushroom ragu. The whole thing is topped with mozzarella cheese and some cheese curds.

Gwonderful gnocchi.
Gwonderful gnocchi.

This is the “dish of the day”. The pasta is perfect as is the ragu that sits atop. It’s a vegetarian dish, but the sauce is so good that you would think you are eating a meat sauce.

It’s hard to tell from our pictures, but the portion sizes on the tasting menu are not huge. Our fourth course is dessert, which tonight is a panna cotta with chocolate crumbles on top in a huckleberry sauce.

Desserts are small.  Why not have two?
Desserts are small. Why not have two?

Panna cotta is like Italian custard as it’s made with milk, sugar and gelatin. Here’s what this one looked like when we cut it open.

As Rachael Ray would say, "yummo!"
As Rachael Ray would say, “yummo!”

The chocolate and huckleberry offset the sweet panna cotta and this one is a winner. I had spied an olive oil pound cake on the menu, so we give that a try too.

Olive oil pound cake.
Olive oil pound cake. Popeye would be proud.

They use olive oil instead of butter. The lemon curd and blackberries make this a very refreshing dessert to end our meal.

The bottom line on BoccaLupo: The pasta here is as good as advertised. We might have played it differently and ordered two pasta entrees instead of the tasting menu, which would have given us even more of those delicious noodles. This is a good place to go for a date. The service is superb and the noise level is acceptable, which means you can actually talk without shouting. If you are in the area, you will not be disappointed.

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