Urban Italian in Cape Town’s centre: the new BOCCA
Although highly unlikely, I sometimes wonder if I have some good old Italian blood in my veins. I’d do pretty much anything short of selling my soul for a good plate of authentic Italian food. With Bocca on my foodie radar for the longest time, I was super excited when I was invited by Adnana and Guido to experience the newly refurbished version of Bocca – a modern little sprinkling of Italy in the middle of our beautifully bustling city.
Perched proudly on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets, you surely can’t miss this Cape Town institution. And if you’ve never seen it, I’m very sure, when walking past, you’ve caught the smell of wood-fired pizzas wafting through the open kitchen windows, permeating the surrounding areas with the delightful aromas of Italy.
Bocca is situated in the vibe-iest part of Cape Town. Stirring with street-fuls of young, trendy working adults, always craving their next lunch-time fix, this is the perfect spot for a quick get-together over lunch or for sun-downers after work.
Bocca recently underwent a magical refurb under the confident, guiding hands of power duo, Adnana Blaj and Guido Brambilla, including new additions and upgrades to the decor, menu and even a complete concept overhaul. The real magic trick is that, throughout this incredible transformation, they didn’t lose the very important underpinning ethos of simple, uncomplicated and authentic Italian offerings in the heart of Cape Town.
Bocca has rightly been transformed into an cosmo-chic uptown restaurant with sleek, clean lines, luscious jungle-green and bronze hues and contemporary furniture without feeling unwelcoming or stifling. Even though the strong urban-organic theme is subtly threaded through the new Bocca’s interior (think leather, nude colours, wood, greenery and plants), they have kept the warm, comforting feeling of true authentic Italian family hospitality in tact. The gorgeously open-plan space invites you in from the street level; not only into the dining area, but also into the realm of the kitchen and the original stone pizza oven. Here you can see your food being prepared from chopping board to plate whilst sipping a cocktail at the wraparound bar. Chop-chop.
We live in a fast paced world where time has become a commodity and even more than that – time has become the actual currency in which we operate. Our days are pre-scheduled and hours allocated long in advance. We try to cram more into each day than you can fit in an American stuffed crust pizza.
The culture of leisurely sit-down meals with large groups of friends and family are rapidly changing and instead, we are dining alone with our laptops, smartphones or tablets as companions, scoffing down some kind of food, only because our watch tells us it’s time for food. Most times we are not even looking at our plates or tasting our food properly, ironically because we’re frantically hash-tagging a photo of the said meal on Instagram.
Where time stands still
Bocca is pushing back against this culture change, whilst acknowledging that time is limited, and food needs to be quick. What they’re not willing to compromise on, is quality and authenticity. They have cleverly adapted their space and menu to accommodate the rapid pace of the world we live in, although they still firmly insist on their diners slowing down for a bit in true Italian style.
Bocca is where you come with your friends for a quick dinner after work, or before the next social obligation of the night. It’s where you can spend your lunch hour eating delicious wholesome food. It’s where you catch up with family in-between everyone’s busy schedules. It’s where you meet for sun-downers on the patio to make the most of our balmy summer’s evenings. It’s where you pop in for a strong Italian coffee at the bar when the day has simply been too long.
Something Chef and owner, Guido, feels very warm-blooded about, is sharing – in true Italian style. It is highly encouraged, in fact. Bocca’s new menu allows for smaller pizzas and a incredible selection of bite-sized dishes and sharing plates that invite you to experience different flavours and textures with your dining companions. Using only the best autentic ingredients he can source locally from the city surrounds, the food is light, but genuine. It’s traditional, but innovative and in line with current food trends.
We started our meal with an Amatriciana pizette from their new range of 16cm Neopolitan style wood-fired pizzas and a bowl of panzanella (bread salad), because how can you claim to eat an authentic Italian lunch without this staple? We rounded off our starters with a couple of cocktails as recommended by Guido – a Spicy Averna and a Bocca-Groni. On a side note, I could devour several bowls of their panzanella by myself and the Bocca-Groni is any dedicated gin-lover’s dream cocktail.
For mains, we ordered a portion of Ital chips (twice cooked and lovingly coated in parmesan and rosemary!), a portion of ortofritto (tempura veg) and a portion of the angus beef brisket, slow cooked for 12 hours in the pizza oven. There was plenty of food to share between myself and my friend. We ate and chatted and sipped our cocktails, whilst the other tables filled and emptied around us as the afternoon wore on. I found the space incredibly comforting and casual, even though the food was absolute quality and as authentic as I would get it in Naples. All the dishes were presented beautifully and it was an absolute feast for the eyes even before the first bite.
Because Guido simply insisted on dessert (and because I never really considered skipping it!) we opted for the semifreddo and the lemon-lemon dessert. Both were incredible, and just the right size to share and swap. A robust cup of coffee concluded our lunch.
Adnana and Guido’s hospitality and passion shine just as bright as their newly refurbished urban-Italian restaurant. They are gracious hosts and love to share their story and reaffirm their absolute commitment to quality and authenticity in every little detail throughout this new space.
I would firmly urge you to make time in your busy schedule to visit the new Bocca for lunch or dinner. Or cocktails. Because this is the place where time stands still. This is where you slow down, sit back and relax. This is the place where you are reminded of the importance of sharing a meal with loved ones, and that you should always, always make time to decelerate and breathe in-between the chaos that ensues around us. Bocca is your ultimate urban-Italian osteria experience, any time of the day.
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.