La Bocca has caused a lot of stir around town in Pattaya. It’s the first of it’s kind.
The latest foodie buzz is that a new restaurant has opened at the bottom of Thappraya Road (opposite The Jomtien Pig & Whistle). Called La Bocca it’s obviously Italian but what isn’t immediately obvious from the outside is that it is the area’s first flagship Sicilian inspired restaurant. This unique cuisine combines traditional recipes with the exotic. Fusions involving almonds, pistachios, saffron and sultanas are striking elements from its colourful culinary history which to this day are integral in the Sicilian cucina.
The Sicilian connection is provided by Chef Tommy who draws inspiration from his native soil, while the front of house hospitality is in the hands of Chef Stefano who darts and dashes untiringly around the tables attending to his customers. The restaurant had only been open for a few weeks when Mick and I visited but already the vibe was positive and the tables filled to capacity. The traditional wood-fueled oven was disgorging pizzas at a rapido rate. The pizzaiolos were fully employed stretching and throwing the dough and the customers were fully occupied devouring them. We didn’t order pizza that night but could see that they were huge affairs, bottom-toasted and thin crusted – definitely a treat to come for our next visit. Prices start at only B. 180.
The a la carte menu is wide-ranging and appealing, plus there are daily specials chalked up on the blackboard. I chose the classic seafood salad to commence the proceedings while Mick opted for fish carpacci
The weather had been bad and the fishermen were unable to take the boat out for a few days so “catch of the day” was not available, instead the carpaccio boasted a well sourced platter of smoked swordfish and salmon. The seafood salad was delicious, tender, grill-charred squid languished with prawns and mussels accompanied by salad ingredients making for a fresh, vibrant start to the meal. Other starters include caprese tricolore (tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil and basil), stuffed aubergines with tomato, cheese, mint and garlic (B.190), air dried fillet of beef with rocket and Grana Padano cheese, frutti di mare gratinati (seafood gratin) and a selection of gourmet house bruschettas.
I couldn’t resist ordering a Sicilian speciality: fried sardines with sweet/sour onion compote (B.320). I adored this dish; the sardines were flavoursome, soft and yielding topped with the caramelised onion tossed with pine nuts and sultanas. A truly delightful recipe and accompanied by smooth glossy mashed potatoes and peas it collected a big tick from me. Mick had opted for scaloppine porcini. A classic veal cutlet generously doused in a wine and porcini mushroom sauce. He loved it. For chicken fans the house dish comes stuffed with brie, bacon and an asparagus Masala sauce, or for steak buffs the grilled items include entrecote, fillet and ribeye (B.300).
Another Sicilian speciality is homemade sausage. These labour intensive sausages are another signature dish of this surprising kitchen. They come stuffed with tomato and pasteurized cheese, or with mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella for a true taste of family cooking from Sicily. This is an absolute Mediterranean trattoria and therefore fish has to feature seriously on the menu. Catch of the day changes according to the market but grilled salmon and whole squid stuffed with tomato, pine nuts and breadcrumbs are always available. The wine list is a patriotic affair offering some bottles of excellent vintages from the best wineries in Italy at prices to suit all wallets coming in at B.899. The house wine is extremely reasonable and offered at only B.80 per glass or a full litre for B.450.
The Sicilian tooth is most definitely sweet. I read that Sicilians think nothing of having a brioche stuffed with ice cream for breakfast! Their desserts are simply extraordinary – cannoli, cassata and marzipan – it doesn’t get much better. So when Stefano said the dulci of the day was a cannoli tart we had to try it. A quick road to heaven if every there was one – it was a dreamy profusion of creamy ricotta, sugar, milk and vanilla extract encased in a fantastic pastry case. A definite “must-try” for all desert lovers. With a “one for the road” Lemoncello we were happily replete.
This is a sensibly priced Italian restaurant which has some luscious dishes on offer with the added attraction of being able to try the cuisine of Sicily with its unusual fusions.
La Bocca is authentic, affordable, informal but smart and we are quite sure that it will very quickly become part of the mainstream of popular restaurants in the neighbourhood.
Just in closing – if a gentlemen wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora should ask if we were there that night we know exactly what to say. “We know nothing, we didn’t see anything, we weren’t there and if we were there, we were asleep!” Only kidding – we were there and had a wonderful evening with excellent food and wine – we couldn’t have asked for more – and yes – it is an offer you can’t refuse!
La Bocca is located at the bottom of Theppraya Road (on the left hand side) on the way to Jomtien Beach and opposite the Jomtien Pig & Whistle Pub. Open daily from 17.00 pm till 23.30 pm. Tel: (038) 303 530