December 11, 2021

It's always fun to revisit a favorite restaurant. Is it as good as last time? Consistent? Innovative? I had solid confidence coming back to Rocca. You can just feel that the place is run well. In terms of the food, I was not wrong.

Everything was just as good if not better than my first visit. Delicious, visually appealing and you can taste the freshness and the quality of the ingredients, the pasta that's clearly made in-house. All of these little details show the attention and care required to deliver a consistently outstanding experience. Rocca has that.

While the food remained outstanding, service slipped a bit. Our server took our order by memory, not writing anything down. This always bothers me because it puts the diner on edge. "Will they remember the dishes? The small detail I requested?" This guy didn't. He had to come back twice to clarify a specific piece of our order. (Just write it down!) Appetizers didn't arrive together and were delivered to the wrong guest. Not the end of the world, of course. But I'm also guessing that it's not the experience the owner is shooting for.

The mozzarella cart guy described what he was doing in muddled terms, difficult to hear. He clearly wasn't enjoying his lot for the evening. But that mozzarella, prepared fresh tableside, with tomatoes, balsamic and basil and liberally seasoned throughout the preparation - it is still the best I've ever had. 

Rocca remains my favorite place in Tampa thusfar. Great vibe, fun menu, delicious food. Can't wait to go back again.

LITTLE GEM SALAD mint, shallot, pecorino romano, breadcrumbs, anchovy vinaigrette. This was better than the time previous.
HIRAMASA CARPACCIO green apple, capers, horseradish, nasturtium. Really stellar dish and a beautiful presentation.
Making our mozzarella tableside.
Caprese from the cart, made tableside. Still ridiculously good.
LAMB ARROSTICINI marsala, chives. Really well seasoned.
TAGLIOLINI al RAGU beef ragu, basil, 30 month parmigiano
GIRELLE al FORNO berkshire pork shank, spinach, mozzarella, mornay. My dish. It was well done - ate a bit like lasagna on its side. A bit salty.
MEZZE RIGATONI all’ AMATRICIANA guanciale, pecorino romano, tomato sugo. Traditionally made with bucatini, this one had a creamier sauce only from lots of pecorino cheese added to it. That takes some skill. Both recipients at our table loves this.
BASIL CUSTARD, rum apples, streusel. Still one of my favorite desserts ever.
CINNAMON GELATO, plantains, maple syrup
CHOCOLATE SORBETTO, hazelnuts, ligurian olive oil
PISTACHIO GELATO, honey, lemon zest
July 7, 2021

This restaurant was recommended to me by the chef at Koya, who blurted it out so quickly, I knew I had to get here. The menu had me salivating and the actual experience definitely lived up to the hype.

I am a firm believer that thoughtful and well-executed desserts demonstrates a quality restaurant from start to finish. Nothing is an afterthought - not even the very end of the meal. These desserts were stupendous, especially the basil custard. I would come just to have that again.

The pasta dishes were also outstanding. Flavorful with properly cooked pasta (always my biggest concern). But the hand-pulled mozzarella steals the show, literally but also in flavor and taste. It's not just show for show's sake (though some of that, which is fine) - but produces a truly memorable plate of food.

This place is a credit to Tampa. I asked for the manager to tell her how excellent the entire experience had been. When I live here permanently, they will see me with regularity. 

Hand-pulled mozzarella, heirloom tomato, basil, 10 year aged balsamic vinegar. The cheese is literally made in front of you with curds and hot water, then hand-pulled.
Hand-pulling the mozzarella (for another table)
Little gem salad, mint, shallot, pecorino romano, breadcrumbs, anchovy vinaigrette .
Tagliolini, beef ragu, basil, 30 month parmigiano
Spaghetti, key west pink shrimp, zucchini, garlic, parsley .
Gnocchi, speck, walnuts, chives, taleggio fonduta
Basil custard, rum, apple strudel. This was off the charts.
Cinnamon gelato, cinnamon and sugar plantains, maple syrup
Burnt cheesecake, Florida strawberries, black lime

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Replying to Steven Smith