Well-fed crowd at Café Bocca

DAY: Tuesday. Time: 12.30pm. Table for two booked at Café Bocca in Shafto Lane.

Arriving at Café Bocca I found my guest settling into our reserved outside table. We were offered a table either inside or outside but, with the heaters adequately warming up the cold and rainy day, the outside location took our fancy.

As we were seated a couple of glasses of water found their way to our table, along with the menus. Our waiter explained the specials of the day and left us for a few moments before returning to take a drinks order.

It was now 12.45pm. My temporary office location seemed suitable so far.

Around our table there was a group celebrating a birthday and a few other tables outside occupied by corporate types. Inside the restaurant there was a couple of big tables with important-looking business types assembled.

Most of the diners were, as you would expect, corporate people. Some were deeply involved in conversation with their business hats on, while others were simply sitting back and only involved in their tucker. There is a lively atmosphere that is void of pretensions.

The wine list offers seven red wines and seven white wines by the glass, so we ordered a couple of glasses to activate the creative parts of our minds.

It was refreshing to see a wine list that wasn’t packed full of the usual suspects. Instead the list presented several interesting wines that are obviously suited to a number of dishes on the menu.

The wine we settled for was Antinori Santa Cristina Sangiovese, which put a rosy glow in my cheeks as we tucked into a serve of marinated olives and salsiccia – cured Italian sausage.

The antipasto selection will entice most and the bruschetta, while not our choice on this visit, would certainly be a recommendation for the next visit.

The salsiccia we enjoyed was lightly grilled for a few minutes, with a splash of red vino added just at the end and served with fresh lemon. I love Italian sausage and am constantly on the look out for the best places to find good sausage. Café Bocca has been getting the sausage for this dish from Primevera Meats on Scarborough Beach Road in Mt Hawthorn.

The time was now approaching 1.15pm. Our glasses of red were replenished and we were allowed time to sit back, digest our starter and finish off the business chatter without constant interruption from staff.

At all times the service was attentive and professional, but never intrusive. Following a timely delay our main courses arrived at around 1.20pm.

My guest and I had both ordered one of the daily specials and both choices hit the spot. My client had the risotto of the day – chicken, porcini mushrooms with spinach and fresh basil, topped with shaved Basque cheddar. Prepared perfectly, with texture and seasoning as you would expect in a risotto, this dish passed all the tests.

My special was a pasta dish with chicken and pumpkin tossed in basil cream sauce. While the chicken could have done with a few minutes less in the pan, the dish oozed flavour. The pumpkin was sweet and the seasoning, together with the basil sauce, pulled the dish together. I am often disappointed when I order pasta at restaurants, as it often lacks some of those home-cooked touches.

However, at Café Bocca my pasta choice wanted for nothing. It was tasty and I can still remember its delights today. A simple nod during our main course and our empty glasses were replenished. The plates also were cleared with little fuss.

It was now 1.45pm. As neither of us was in a hurry, we relaxed with a coffee.

And it seemed not many of the other diners were desperate to get back to the rigours of wheeling and dealing, as many of those who arrived at the same time as we did were still finishing off

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