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Tocco 2010-12-06

by foodbitch 6. December 2010 14:40

An interval of 14 months separated our first Tocco dinner from the second. A shameful length of time. Tocco is as good today, well into its twilight, as it was when it was full of youth and life. Go there now, before the kitchen rests in peace.

Comebacks in the biz of restaurants are few and insufficient. Their demise can be quick and sudden or slow and painful. But no matter how slow the end, once the creep of death takes root, almost nothing can steer the ship away from iceberg. Tocco will not be with us very long but instead of singing it a lullaby, you should celebrate by going to have one of the tastiest Italian meals you’ll ever have. It’s not just pasta. For $16 you will enjoy a mound of Antipasta Rustico with piles of prosciutto, walnuts, greens and cheeses. The Margherita pizza is bit below Pane Caldo but only just a bit. And that’s like saying someone is almost as good as Michael Jordan. Not a bad league from which to draw comparison. The fish of the day was sea bass that was so perfect that Tower Bar in West Hollywood could take a lesson in preparation. And the pasta – one of the city’s finest. Homemade delight safely in league with Pane Caldo and Spiaggia. Get the Pappard Bisamzio. You’ll thank me.

Every earthly thing has a beginning and an end. Endings make us feel uncomfortable so we rarely look for signs of them. With humans, we may not notice the hangover that takes two days to fade. Forgive the forehead’s encroachment on a healthy hairline. Not notice the slowing speed of motion, thought and speech. What else but self-delusion can justify driving cars into senility? And so with restaurants, non-essential services are the first cuts. Valet parking and dedicated coat-checks have already seen extinction. Next came acceptance of American Express because the volume simply didn’t justify the extra 1% in service fees. Next on the chopping block will come bar-backs and bus service until finally, the experience becomes as unpleasant for the owners as it is for diners and, the doors close for the last time. Like a star emitting its last photon. But Tocco deserves an encore. Go help make its death a supernova rather implosion. You won’t have to wait for reservations.

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Tocco 2009-10-24

by foodbitch 25. October 2009 19:45

As we arrived at Tocco at 8:28 PM for our 8:30 reservation, we were told that things would take 20 minutes since they were “waiting” for a few tables. Not a good start. But before we could even take a sip of our first round, we were seated and on our way to the tastiest Italian dinner we’ve had in a while.

 The chef/owner of Tocco is not new on the scene. His Folia restaurant in the market district was one of the most affordable and tasty Italian meals in the city, occupying that rare nook of the Italian spectrum between La Scarola and Spiaggia. And with Tocco, he does it again.

For some reason, Italian restaurants have, over the years, become caricatures of themselves. Giant portions, overdoses of garlic, oceans of tomato sauce, and pasta pasta pasta. Fine-dining Italian was a contradiction in terms for those unfamiliar with the potential of a Spiaggia but even mid-priced restaurants like Topo Gigio kept the caricature alive and pretended to be fancy just by increasing prices. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

How refreshing it then is to taste some very mainstream Italian dishes and be overwhelmed by their uniqueness. Pizza, ravioli and pasta may not sound like the makings of a memorable meal but Tocco did a truly amazing job with them. The Pomodorini pizza was as good as any Folia did and at budget-busting $16, the most expensive item of the night. It was pretty big though. Enough to stuff 2 normal people, just not us. And speaking of stuffed, the ravioli had a mix of ground seafood including crab, shrimp and probably whatever else was past its prime on refrigerator shelves. But you know what? It was great. When you order a seafood ravioli, you had better expect it to taste mildly fishy and here it only added to the flavor. Despite all this delicacy, the loudest applause must be bestowed upon the Pappard Bisamzio pasta. Steaming hot, it was prepared in a tomato/cream sauce that must have been the best ratio of tomato to cream I’ve ever tasted. Here was one dish that we could have eaten 5 times over but as before mentioned, Maggiano’s was never in the building.

In closing I would like to thank the Tocco management for not gouging their customers on drinks. A Martini these days can cost anywhere from 12 which is somewhat inappropriate, to 18 dollars which is the pinnacle of greed. Points then to a restaurant that still charges $10. It will not be forgotten. Unless, of course, I have a dozen of them.

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FB is the CTO of an entertainment company and, these days, writes much more in prose than he ever wrote in code. Which is a good thing. Because people expect quality from code. Meal me:

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