February 2, 2011

Bocca: The Verdict

“Bonjour,” said the friendly waiter as he handed cousin Stephanie and me menus at Bocca, an Italian restaurant. His heavy accent was not quite French, not quite Italian.

Considering that most of the Restaurant Week options looked like the cheese couldn’t be easily left out, I ordered the only non-cheesy-sounding choices. Maybe Bocca didn’t get the poster, or the bonjour-ing waiter didn’t get the message, but I don’t think my dairy allergy was taken seriously, as there was cheese sprinkled over the Tuscan bean and escarole soup that I ordered, and the soup tasted a bit creamy. It wasn’t that tasty anyway, so I only had a little. (Unfortunately for my immune system, I am a chicken about sending things back and making a stink. The movie Waiting about waiters doing nauseating things to annoying customers’ food, however unrealistic, put ideas in my head that I can’t shake. Don't watch it.)

The salmon was great. Yes, I order a lot of salmon—it’s usually cooked perfectly at nice restaurants, it’s great for you with all those omega-3s, and most importantly, it never comes with cheese on top. The delicious spaghetti squash on which it was served, however, tasted like it was cooked with a stick of butter. It was amazing, and I probably should’ve checked on that butter thing, but I didn’t.

As you perhaps can tell by now, when it comes to eating out, I am not militant about the ol’ milk allergy. I’m just not there yet. Please don't tell my allergist. This milk-free thing is still relatively new (okay, it’s been a couple of years now since I’ve had to face it, but you try giving up all traces of milk for even two days and you will see how hard it is), and eating out is tricky. Cooking at home is a breeze though, and luckily I love to do that. No dairy ever enters our apartment, unless we have people over, in which case we are willing to humor out guests with their silly cheeses.

Alongside the salmon was what looked and tasted like ambrosia fruit salad. Weird. (I had a tiny bite to try it. Who knows... it might have been a large glob of pinkish mayonnaise, in which case I could've enjoyed it. Much to the disgust of Graybeard, I love me some mayonnaise, even when it's vegan.) It must have been the “apple cider foam.” Is it just me, or does “foam” not sound appetizing? This ambrosia “foam” looked like soupy yogurt.

Further confusing us as to the origin of his strange accent, our waiter approvingly informed me that my sweater (red with a black argyle pattern down the front with a few black sequins) was “ooo, very Italian, yes, very,” adamantly nodding his head. Despite not being sure whether Italian sweaters are fashionable, I assumed that’s what he meant, and I liked him. Not that I can claim credit for my “very Italian” sweater, as it was a gift from my in-laws (such a negative sounding word, for such wonderful people), who, it would seem, are more fashionable than me. (Nobody ever tells me that the sweaters I pick out look Italian.)

Despite our waiter’s friendliness, when I asked to substitute a dairy-free sorbet for dessert, he informed me that there was none, without even double-checking. I would find that hard to believe, but he liked my sweater, so he would bring me dairy-free sorbet had there been any, right?

Ultimately, we decided the waiter was from the French-Italian boarder. Perhaps he was from the French side, which would explain him greeting us in French in an Italian restaurant, but he always thought the grass was greener on the other side of the border, which would explain him working in an Italian restaurant and admiring Italian sweaters. Or maybe he's Italian, but always thought that the French language sounded so much more romantic than Italian, so he speaks it whenever he can. Wherever he is from, he was unpretentious, and therefore Bocca felt unpretentious, and I like that about a place. What I could eat of the food was good, and I would go back and try my luck with the regular menu.

Note: As you may have noticed by now, I did not pull out my camera at dinner. I hope that you’ll forgive me. Please know that my next and final RW meal this winter will be with Graybeard, who has no choice but to accept me embarrassing him in public, least he want to appear unsupportive. He is a prince among men, so he wouldn’t do that to me, or to you, dear reader.

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