For some reason I have always thought of restaurant week like a sale on food, but not necessarily a good sale. I never viewed it as an opportunity for the chef to showcase his or her skill set, but more like a week where the chef stays home and lets his sous chef cook. As I write this now I think how slow can I be? Restaurant week is a chance for a restaurant to place their skills on blast from the first course to the third course. A chance for them to execute in a way they never have before. Its almost like a pressure cooker situation, because one false move could make a patron love or hate them forever.
Well the pressure was on and Bocca in New York City rose to the occasion like an eagle soaring for the skies. It is not very often that you have a meal that taste so good you want to apologize to your companion for not offering them a piece of your dish, not even a slither of your dessert, because having that one less bite is like having one less breath in your lungs.
Some people may find the pre-fixed restaurant menu a drudgery and I often find myself feeling the same way too at times, because it never seems like the most delicious items are on that menu, but only on the regular menu, but Bocca you got everything just right with the pre-fixed menu.
First up a fried crab cake with an aioli sauce and red onion. Now because I believe honesty is intertwined with integrity I have to write this crab cake was not dazzling to look at. Not only did it look lonely because it was only one, the plates presentation just lacked luster, but the taste lacked nothing. All white crab meat, no claws here, nicely shredded, seasoned very lightly so that you never lost the freshness of the meat, but tasted crab with every bite. The crust was not crunchy, yet somehow not soggy either, just a perfect coating that added texture to a sumptuous crab cake. Second course, lamb shank, mint, pappardelle ribbon pasta. I was never a person who favored a certain pasta over another until a year ago. I found that the reason behind that was that as easy as it seems not everyone can cook pasta. But when it is done right it can make your heart trill, and that is what pappardelle does for me. The lamb shank ragu with grated parmesan and a dollop of ricotta cheese, gave me goosebumps. That lamb was as tender and sweet as a newborn baby, the depth of flavor made me feel like I was in an enthralling conversation with the most sensual person on earth, and they were breathing life into me with every single word. The pasta was light, it was airy it was a smidgen buttery, it was impeccable. Third course, chocolate molten cake. Even as I write this I find it difficult to capture the rush of emotions that I felt when I took my first bite, except to write AMAZING. Amazingly rich, amazingly flavorful, amazingly chocolately, yet not to rich. With every bite that song rang in my head, “SIMPLY THE BEST, BETTER THAN ALL THE REST,” and I prayed my companion wouldn’t look too hard at my plate and dare not ask for a bite, where I would unapologetically declined them.
I left Bocca feeling completely satisfied, with a palate that was supremely gratified, and most of all smiling, because I did not have food on sale, I had food that was worth its weight in gold and so much more. Well done Bocca, well done!