Bocce Bar occupies the location vacated by Sustain, and just a few steps down from Sugarcane on NE 1st Avenue in Midtown. This is convenient for Executive Chef, Timon Balloo who has been at the helm of the kitchen at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill for four years. Balloo also now presides over this newest Italian addition to the Sushi Samba empire. As the name implies, diners are indeed invited to play out front on Miami’s first bocce court while enjoying dinner al fresco.
Inside, a hostess graciously welcomes those preferring to dine in the main dining room, and leads the way into a large space adjacent to a high energy bar and directly in front of an open kitchen equipped with a brick oven.
A rustic atmosphere prevails, where rickety vintage wooden chairs, tables and worn tiles underfoot, complement mismatched mirrors on the walls. The staff is very friendly and sometimes, a bit too helpful. The current epidemic of small plates continues here. Semolina dusted crispy artichokes with mustard seed aoli is a palate pleaser; as was a rich polenta further enhanced by a poached egg and served aside brocolini to balance the richness.
The fromaggi section of the menu offers three cheeses for $22 and includes a ricotta di bufala with English peas, mint and truffles, taleggio accompanied by walnuts, and parmigiano Reggiano with honey and grapes. While Salumi arrives with a radicchio marmalade and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. In the pasta category, two homemade pastas appear, pappardelle with mushroom ragu and spaghetti with Key West shrimp, shaved baby artichokes and bottarga. Handcrafted pasta makes all the difference, but orecchiette with duck and butternut squash, likewise is a good option.
Moving on to the main dishes, the Brasato de Manzo, or slow braised short ribs lacked the intense complex flavors and the melting texture one expects. Try instead, the lamb shank honey roasted, potato and citrus grilled leeks, or the Murray farm chicken, brick oven roasted with olives, cherry tomatoes and a pan jus you could devour with a giant spoon This is the real star of the Secondi, bursting with deep flavor and a truly complex character.
One dessert is a must here. Honey crisp cannelloni served with warm stewed strawberries and 25 year-old balsamic and gelato is a champion recipe not to be missed. Bocce makes it’s own Limoncello and Amaretto in house, and has a large selection of specialty drinks, many take off from the classic Negroni with Campari as the point of departure.
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm