EAT PALM BEACH | BOCCE WINE BAR
This week I was invited to a media dinner at Bocce Wine Bar, located at Okeechobee and Jog. The crowd was a mix of writers from the likes of Palm Beach Post and New Times and bloggers like myself. Bob Higginbotham, co-owner with Chef Wade Owens, joined us at the table and told some of the stories behind the dishes and how their histories play a role in the menu.
We started in the bar area, where they served their two signature cocktails: The Aviation and Beet Me at Bocce. Both gin-based, the Aviation was a blend of Ransom Old Tom gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, creme de violette and an amarena cherry. The Beet Me featured their house made beet gin, fruit lab ginger, honey tarragon syrup and lemon juice. I’m not a big gin drinker, so I went with the Rose & Mary’s Dark Storm, which was a mix of Corsair spiced rum, ginger beer and rosemary ginger syrup. I thought it was delicious and the ginger really popped.
Once seated, Jennifer ran the show bringing course after course and introducing each dish. We tried 10 dishes, so I’m going to narrow in on what I thought the highlights of the evening were.
The Teenie Weenie was a fun way to start the meal with a frankfurter set in a steamed bun and topped with meat sauce. It was rustic and hearty. Mine was a little dry, which was sad because the house made mustard was delicious. I would have loved an extra dollop on mine. So yummy.
I really enjoyed the Watercress salad. The prosecco-poached chicken was interesting and moist and I loved the treatment of the squash with long, shaved slices throughout the salad. It was sweet and acidic with the aged balsamic and honey drizzle.
I’m not a huge Mussels fan, so the fact that I liked them so much was a good sign. I enjoyed the crisp grapefruit flavor and the mussels had a nice meatiness. They also served bread on the side to soak up the liquid which was great.
The Lamb Lolli was my favorite dish of the night. The seasoning was spot on and I loved the flavor. This is that dish that I’d have trouble not ordering every time I go.
The surprising star of the night for me was the Flo’s Clam Shack grilled pizza. Bob explained the way grilled pizza is prepared and I thought it was really interesting how it is moved around the grill throughout the cooking process. They start it at the hottest point on the grill to get the bottom crisp and then flip it and prepare the toppings while it is moved to the lower heat spots. The pizza was crisp and had a fresh, clean taste with a buttery finish from the butter-poached littlenecks.
The Oxtail Gnudi was warm and hearty and felt like total comfort food. The oxtail fell apart under my fork and melted in my mouth. The gnudi were light and tasted of ricotta and horseradish.
The Date was the perfect bite to end the meal. The date was sweet and dense while the gorgonzola helped bring a savory creaminess to it and the espresso brown sugar bed gave it a bold pop. It was rich and flavorful.
Bob joined our side of the table for the second half of the meal which was a lot of fun. He has a great personality and tons of stories. I loved hearing about his life in Providence, Rhode Island, the food of his hometown and some of the techniques they use in the restaurant from grilling pizza to infusing mescal with roasted jalapeños.
The restaurant itself is warm and inviting. I loved the centerpieces with tall candlesticks floating in glass mason-like jars. The staff all wore jeans with plaid button downs, which made you feel like you were a guest in a farmer’s home. Only instead of prairie decor and chickens everywhere, this farmer prefers more modern, intimate decor.
Bocce offers Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 5:00-7:00pm with bottomless wine, cocktail specials and beer specials. They host Wine Wednesdays with 50% off bottles of wine. And they offer Sunday Brunch every Sunday from 11:00am to 3:00pm with bottomless brunch cocktails and a changing menu.
Meals at the Table
Teenie Weenie – frankfurter, meat sauce, house mustard served on a steamed bun
Watercress – prosecco-poached chicken, yellow squash, taleggio cheese, sliced almonds, aged balsamic over mixed greens
Cherry Smoked Scallop – porcini panna cotta, pancetta, leeks, gastrique
Mussels – guanciale, grapefruit, charred fresno chile
Cavatelli – spring peas, pea tendrils, carrot, mint, parmigiano reggiano
Lamb Lolli – colorado lamb, artichoke barigoule, baby carrot
Flo’s Clam Shack – butter-poached littlenecks, melted leeks, prosciutto, balsamic reduction served with a side of Garden Ruffage
Oxtail Gnudi – arrowhead oxtail, horseradish gnudi, gorgonzola, basil foam
Guinea Hen – cauliflower bechamel, fig mostardo, lavender, guinea jus
Date – espresso brown sugar, gorgonzola, pistachio
Bocce Wine Bar and Tapas
1760 North Jog Road, West Palm Beach, FL