Food & Drinks

Bocca Restaurant Relaunched With a Fresh New Menu and Revamped Interiors

Following a decor revamp and with a new menu focused on easygoing Italian-style eating, Bocca is a top spot for casual dining in Cape Town this summer.
Hein van Tonder

Bocca’s charming new owners, Guido and Adnana Brambilla, bring decades of experience in international hospitality to the Mother City. Before taking the keys to the restaurant, the pair were based in Bermuda, where Guido was executive chef for a major international hotel and Adnana was in charge of sales and marketing for a collection of respected restaurants.

The couple’s concept for the revamped decor has added warmth and flair to the interiors of the restaurant, with shimmering green tiles and a striking statement wall behind the staircase both adding depth and interest to the space. Upstairs, new leather banquettes have added a layer of contemporary comfort to the mezzanine space. 

On the street-side terrace, communal counter seating faces the kitchen, contributing a sense of lively informality to the space, while a new bar area is situated alongside the bustling kitchen. It’s the perfect spot for a quick stop for one of Bocca’s new signature cocktails, a craft beer or a glass of wine from the well-curated selection.

To round out your aperitivo, something from the Bites section of the new menu is ideal, with the local stracciatella with roasted cherry tomatoes and confit eggplant a highlight among the tasty selection. Likewise, the Crispy offerings make perfect starters, with must-tries in this section of the menu including the excellent misto of calamari, white bait, prawns and mussels.

‘We wanted to create a space where people can experience a taste of modern Italian cuisine,’ says Adnana. ‘You can come by yourself and sit at the counter for a glass of wine and a few small plates, or arrive as a group and experience a selection of dishes. It’s really a place for people to connect over food.’

When the time comes for more substantial fare, there are several lip-smacking pastas on offer. The cassiopipa – a Venetian seafood ragù on penne infused with oriental spices and with a touch of cream – will be new to many Capetonian diners. It’s both a nod to the Italian city’s long history as a trading port and seriously delicious.

Bocca has always been famous for its pizza, and long-time fans will be happy to hear that little has changed in this area. The imported Acunto oven, which cooks pizzas in 90 seconds at super-high temperatures, remains in place, with the dough very much reflecting the fact that slow fermentation and extended proving before baking have taken place. ‘Of course, every pizza is thrown by hand, and rolled in a specific way to puff up very quickly in the oven,’ says Guido.

The only pizza-related change is one that will, happily, allow many diners to enjoy even more of their favourite food: on the new menu the Pizzette are rolled smaller (roughly 16cm across) than a traditional pizza, allowing for experimentation and sharing around the table. Highlights include the Smoked – inspired by the flavours of southern Italy with smoked scamorza cheese and zucchini marinated in vinegar, mint and garlic – and the signature Bocca, which is topped with prosciutto, stracciatella and artichokes.

Our very favourite section of the menu, though, is the new Arrosti (Roasted) offering: once the wood-fired pizza oven is finished for the night, the residual heat is put to good use as larger cuts of beef, lamb, poultry and pork are seasoned and slow-roasted overnight. The following day, the Angus brisket braised in red wine is shredded and served on rustic sourdough, topped with a drizzle of cooking jus and salsa verde. And yes, both this dish and the other Arrosti options are as moreish as they sound. 

On the dessert side, classic meets contemporary, with a superb tiramisu with mascarpone cream and a small platter of local cheeses on offer, as well as the pineapple carpaccio with Muscadet marinade and pineapple fritters. The latter is the perfect choice for the more adventurous sweets lover.  

‘We expect the menu to change four times a year, as I really want to work with the seasons,’ says Guido, who has already tapped into leading local suppliers – including charcutier Richard Bosman and cheese producers Puglia. ‘I have tasted so many olive oils and meats and cheeses,’ he adds, ‘and I don’t see any reason to use imported Italian products when there is such wonderful produce made right here in Cape Town.’

Bocca is open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday from noon until 10pm, with last orders taken at 9.30pm. It is situated at The Block, corner of Bree and Wale streets, Cape Town. For regular updates, follow them on Instagram at @bocca_ct.