In­dulging in Boc­caLupo’s tasty Ital­ian-Amer­i­can menu

GA Voice - - Lgbt Atlanta Arts Reviews Entertaniment - Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now prac­tices life coach­ing for cre­ative types; 404-518-4415. By CLIFF BO­S­TOCK

In­man Park has be­come one of the city’s prime des­ti­na­tions for good din­ing, ex­plod­ing re­cently with the gi­gan­tic food hall of the Krog Street Mar­ket. I’ve sam­pled most restau­rants in the neigh­bor­hood, but my fa­vorite re­mains Boc­caLupo (753 Edge­wood Ave., 404-577-2332).

Bruce Logue, an At­lanta na­tive with a chef’s ex­pe­ri­ence un­like any­one else in town, opened it about three years ago. He worked, for ex­am­ple, at Mario Batali’s renowned Babbo in New York. Even­tu­ally, he re­turned to At­lanta as open­ing chef of La Pi­etra Cucina on Peachtree. It was my fa­vorite restau­rant in the city. I lunched there with friends nearly ev­ery Fri­day for sev­eral years. Logue left the restau­rant af­ter a cou­ple of years to open Boc­caLupo.

What’s the big deal about the cui­sine here? Logue, like Batali, cooks an amaz­ing ver­sion of Ital­ian-Amer­i­can food. No, I’m not talk­ing fancy Chef Bo­yardee. His pas­tas and en­trees are made in strictly Ital­ian man­ner, but the other in­gre­di­ents of­ten vary widely from the clas­sics. There’s a very good rea­son for that and it’s why Ital­ian-Amer­i­can cook­ing emerged in New York years ago. Namely: Im­mi­grant chefs couldn’t al­ways find the su­per-fresh, clas­sic in­gre­di­ents re­quired in Italy, so they be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with more ac­ces­si­ble, some­times un­con­ven­tional in­gre­di­ents. Logue takes that to a new level – a down-home South­ern level and an in­ter­na­tional level.

An ex­am­ple of his play­ful­ness with pas­tas (primi) is the 20-yolk tagli­atelle, slick with but­ter, stud­ded with wild mush­rooms, and, for some tangy con­trast, Tus­can kale kim­chi. How about a Viet­namese-in­spired banh mi (sand­wich) made with br­uschetta, roasted pork, chicken liver, and Ital­ian-Amer­i­can rel­ish? One dish that al­ways stands out in my mem­ory is the ex­truded spaghetti turned black and vel­vety by squid ink tossed with shrimp, hot Calabrese sausage and scal­lions or chiles. Goose-liver ravi­oli? If the day’s in­gre­di­ents please you, do not miss the com­pletely unique risotto. It’s not made with the clas­sic Ital­ian rice. It’s made with pres­ti­gious Carolina Gold “rice grits.”

Of course, be­fore you put away a plate of pasta, you should share a few an­tipasti with your table­mates. Over the years, I’ve en­joyed a pig’s foot with rice, beans and arugula; var­i­ous cured meats; lamb tongue; per­fect grilled oc­to­pus; and as­para­gus with a duck egg and parmi­giano.

Sub­stan­tial en­trees (sec­ondi) I’ve or­dered in­clude grilled quail; sweet­breads and grilled branzino with spring radishes, olives, and lemon oregano. Hon­estly, though, I usu­ally limit my­self to pasta and an­tipasti. There’s also a tast­ing menu, which can be or­dered by the ta­ble, and you will likely find Logue’s most in­ter­est­ing cur­rent cre­ations there. The two times I’ve or­dered it with a friend, we added, at the server’s rec­om­men­da­tion, a plate of pasta. Please un­der­stand that Boc­caLupo’s menu changes reg­u­larly, so some of the dishes I’ve men­tioned may not be avail­able. But I prom­ise any­thing you or­der will please you.

Be warned that the din­ing room only seats 40, although there is a pa­tio that adds about 20 seats. In other words, don’t even try to eat here with­out a reser­va­tion. Be warned too that Boc­caLupo is not cheap. Of course, you don’t have to or­der four cour­ses. But get dessert. You re­ally need, if it’s avail­able, poppy-seed meringue with grape­fruit and lime cream.

Black spaghetti, hot calabrese sausage, red shrimp, scal­lions (Cour­tesy photo)

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