I like to think that I know good Italian food. I mean, I did work at the Olive Garden for a Christmas season (Hospitaliano!), and if that doesn’t assure you of my accumen, I’ve traveled to and through Italy, not to mention I come from a food-intensive family. BoccaLupo is a relatively new Italian restaurant in Atlanta that likes to use locally grown ingredients (as much as possible) to create authentic Italian dishes, sometimes with a bit of a twist. Though they will admit that some items are best when brought in from the old country.
First things first, you’ve gotta start with the cocktails. I like a cocktail menu that is unapologetically “un-froo-froo”, that is to say, nothing flowery or gender-specific. These cocktails are well rounded and can be enjoyed by all. I tried the Tourist because it mixed together some of my summertime favorites: gin, Aperol, and prosecco. It was crisp, but the orange bitters kept it well grounded; a great recommendation from my waiter.
Luckily, my fellow diners were in the mood to enjoy the full BoccaLupo experience so we decided to try a sampling of some of their appetizers. The calamari was a definite, but it took some convincing by our waiter to get us to try the banh mi bruschetta. The only upsetting part of the calamari was not having enough bread to soak up the amazingly flavorful tomato brodetto broth that it is served in. In retrospective, I should have kept the bowl next to me for the rest of my meal and just poured it over everything. It was that good. But the banh mi bruschetta was the star of the appetizers. I would be tempted to go back to BoccaLupo and order several plates just as my meal.
There was one reason, and one reason only that I had been wanting to go to BoccaLupo. The best meal, bar none, from my trip to Italy was the Black Pasta we had in Cinque Terre. Black Pasta is pasta with a squid ink additive. The squid ink doesn’t add a whole lot of flavor, but there is a slight oceanic quality to the taste. BoccaLupo serves their black spaghetti (made on sight) with a bit of a “surf and turf” style ragu that definitely benefits from the spice of the sausage. I have very fond memories of the dish I enjoyed seaside in Cinque Terre, and this Atlanta-based version definitely didn’t disappoint. Now I’m looking for any and every reason I can think of to get back and have another helping as soon as I can!