La Bocca Della Verita and Cheese Balls

she said:

December, your endless supply of yuletide gatherings have rendered my skinny jeans unbuttonable. I don’t have time to work out, much less prepare a tasty dish to share with my fellow merrymakers. My solution: cheese ball.* Not as in a person who makes bad jokes, but an actual ball of port wine cheese, rolled in nuts and prepackaged so that I can buy several and have one handy whenever the need arises, which, lately, is every other day. Done and done, right? I’m not so sure. When I told my friend Joanna about the Cheese Ball Solution, she said, “Ewwwww.”

Ewwwwww? I’m wondering, are cheese balls kind of, well, tacky? Until I know for sure, I’m temporarily abandoning Mission Cheese Ball.

But while we’re on the topic, I’d like to report that I had the most delicious ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella the other day at La Bocca della Verita in Lincoln Square. The ball, pictured below, is served with arugula and granny smith apple slices and it melts in your mouth.

I’m pleased as punch every time I visit Bocca. In part, I just like being in the charming Lincoln Square neighborhood, especially in the winter and especially when I’m thirsty for German beer. No matter the season, Bocca’s food is authentic and fresh, the service is wonderful and you might run into Blagojevich, like we did last weekend. He was in his car, talking on his cell phone in the only available parking spot in front of the restaurant while Patti ran in for carryout. I also ran into this Chicago writer, whose amazing books you should buy using the links I provide at the end of this post.  Seriously though, check out the daily specials when you go to Bocca. They have some wonderful selections. I had the spinach ravioli with marinara and was very happy.  They also have some very special specials, like truffle lasagna and this kalamata olive rigatoni thing that my friend ordered. Guy had meat lasagna that I couldn’t try.

When visiting Bocca, ask to be seated in Mike’s section. He knows his stuff.

*The Cheese Ball Solution will not help with the skinny jean issue.

he said:

Where do I come out on the port wine cheese ball issue? I’m pro. I don’t think they’re gritty, but they’re not the best cheese option around. Ask Gal about her baked brie dish sometime.

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Dish

Now the cheese ball at Bocca was great. Not the best I’ve ever had, that would be a place called Peasant in NYC. I took Gal there one night when I still lived there. And that was the fresh mozzarella that taught me what fresh mozzarella can be. But Bocca’s was a creamy, fresh, mozzarella that disintegrated on the tongue and was worth the trip by itself.

*Hats off to her for resisting the urge to call me a cheeseball.** I know her knuckles were white with self-restraint when she was writing that.

**How much of a cheeseball? There’s a vintage toy store next door to Bocca and they had some old school, early 80’s Star Wars toys. I pointed them out to my dear girlfriend. I didn’t tell her I knew all the names of the characters on the boxes.

Atmosphere and Service

Bocca Della Verita has a wonderful feel to it, welcoming like a family. And not one of those screaming Italian families in the Sopranos, more like the Keatons in that one show with Michael J. Fox.

Our waiter, Mike, knew his wine and was quick with a reco. In fact, everyone there was friendly and enthusiastic about the menu. Which they should be.

In fact, I’d bet if I made one of my typical cheeseball jokes, they’d be nice enough to laugh along with it.

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