It’s been a busy year for BOCCA, the bustling Italian eatery in the heart of Bree Street, Cape Town’s ‘restaurant mile’. Under new ownership – experienced restaurateurs Guido and Adnana Brambilla – BOCCA’s refreshed décor and inspired urban Italian menu have kept local foodies, and savvy tourists, flocking to one of the city’s most talked-about restaurants.
“BOCCA was a completely new adventure for us, but we have learned so much from the last year,” says Adnana. “We learned a lot about our own operations and we learned about making it through the quiet winter season. But most importantly we have learned a lot about what Capetonians like to eat!”
And with the weather in the Mother City warming up for summer BOCCA’s menu is on the move, with much-loved favourites returning and a host of new plates to tempt local palates.
“The menu is a living beast,” chuckles Guido, whose cheffing experience stretches from Milan to Bermuda and back again. “It changes all the time. For spring and summer we have brought in many new dishes to encourage Capetonians and tourists to come back to BOCCA for another visit.”
There’s certainly a new focus on seafood on the revamped menu, with Guido blending local produce with Italian inspiration.
“There is such great seafood on offer in South Africa, and the quality is fantastic,” he says.
In the ‘BITES’ selection of small-plates Guido pays tribute to a long tradition of raw seafood in Italian cuisine, bringing Puglia to the Cape Peninsula in his Fish Tartare of ‘Western Cape waters catch’. Putting freshness first, all that’s needed to bring this crudo to life is a deft touch with spring onions, olives, oregano and a dash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Served on crostini, it’s the perfect plate for summer.
The popular Fritto Misto of crispy calamari, white bait and mussels returns to the menu for summer, alongside a superb plate of Italian-style Prawns. Simply seasoned with olive oil, white wine and lemon juice, they’re flash-roasted in the wood-burning pizza oven to lock in flavour.
“Because of the high temperature and the moisture inside the oven it is just perfect for flash-roasting certain dishes,” says Guido. “For me the best way to cook prawns is with the head and shell still on. It gives so much flavour to the dish.”
Guido is already famous for using his authentic Acunto oven for far more than just the ever-popular pizzette. At the end of the evening larger cuts of beef, lamb, poultry and pork are slow-roasted overnight for the following day’s meat-driven plates.
The bowl of Beef Short-rib makes the best of both worlds. Whole ribs are slow-cooked overnight in red wine and bay leaves, before being deboned, sliced and flash-roasted to order.
The traditional Truffle Carbonara is made in the authentic tradition, with nothing more than free-range eggs, cured guanciale, pecorino, truffle oil and lots of black pepper. But here there’s no spaghetti, rather the broad tubes of penne candela for soaking up the silky sauce.
To finish? Always a little dolce, and the dessert selection has also had a shake-up for summer. Alongside Guido’s classic Tiramisu the new Semifreddo is a sure-fire summer hit, topped with seasonal strawberries and spiced cashews. But when the mercury spikes the new Granita al Caffe is a must.
To make this classic Sicilian treat a mixture of espresso, almond liqueur and sugar syrup is slowly frozen, with regular whipping to break up the ice crystals. The espresso-flavoured ice is then served in a glass, topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and toasted almonds.