Boccini is Italian, with a distinctly modern twist. The restaurant, situated in SoKu, just off Grand Avenue, has been given an interior design taste of fashionable Italy for 2018, from the gorgeous ceiling full of brass-globe, pendant lighting to the artwork on the walls. Colorful abstract artworks sit alongside more traditional vistas of the Coliseum in Rome and the Grand Canal in Venice. In one piece, Mona Lisa’s eyes peek cheekily above shrubbery, and it is this nod to tradition paired with a healthy irreverence, with which Boccini has attacked its menu offerings.
A regular risotto is thrust into a kaleidoscope existence, with the parmesan rich Arborio rice colored purple-violet in the aptly named “Viocinni” (violet and Boccini). A bright green foam of dill decorates the dish, accompanying the chicken, mushroom and asparagus elements. “Diablo” is the color of persimmon and claims to be fiery spicy. It’s packed with parmesan with a satisfyingly plump, butter-confit shrimp on the top.
Reverting back to a more traditional option, a true test of a great Italian restaurant is its Tiramisu. This confection of savoiardi dipped in coffee and layered with mascarpone and whipped cream is popular globally and Boccini’s version will satisfy every well-traveled, Tiramisu aficionado. Soaked in coffee produced from the premium Lavazza roast “Espresso Cream” the delectable pudding takes eight hours to make in-house, and you can feel the dedication in each and every creamy spoonful.
While it is tempting to jump straight to dessert you would be well advised to try the renowned Boccini Nachos as a starter. Homemade taco triangles, stacked high and layered with freshly chopped tomatoes, onions, olives and decorated with purple cress. Drizzled throughout is a made-from-scratch cheese sauce so rich that it makes you stop to appreciate all the flavors it complements.
For an ample starter, the Short Ribs Poutine stacks up thick layers of tender, tasty meat among fluffy fat fries. With two kinds of cheese, drenched in gravy with a dash of BBQ sauce and topped with a soupçon of sriracha mayo, this is a hearty dish.
Boccini offers a variety of fresh salads to choose from as mains or starters and the Chicken Tacos is a full-flavored combination with kernels of sweet corn and crunchy cucumber nestling with other fresh veg in a tortilla bowl. Thickly sliced, juicy chicken breast is folded onto a bed of sour cream on the side.
A more traditionally southern Italian offering is the Burratina salad. Here the wonderfully round, mozzarella cheese stuffed with stracciatella is placed on a hot beef-tomato half, the twist being a basil and pistachio vinaigrette and balsamic glaze on top. A side of asparagus spears, grilled to perfection, deliver a substantial flavor profile depth to this light dish.
If you are a cheese lover and enjoy the combination of rich hot marinara and fleshy vegetables, then you should try the Parmesan Eggplant starter. Thin slices of eggplant are arranged into a patty which is then fried in its parmesan and herb crumb. Artfully placed within mozzarella and provolone cheese, baked and then drizzled with a fresh basil pesto and the lot luxuriate in the tomato-based sauce.
If pizza is another test of a good Italian restaurant then the Funghi Pepperoni presents a wonderful opportunity to try a delicious cured sausage imported especially from the UAE; as with all Boccini meat and poultry ingredients, the pepperoni is halal. As well as the ingredients being top quality there is no mistaking the investment Boccini has made into preparing the most authentic pizza for you. Within a deep alcove in the open kitchen wall is set a red brick pizza oven. In the cellar underneath, oak wood is stacked daily to dry out thoroughly before then being burned to produce the clean flames that heat the stone. The heat can reach such an immense degree, that it can take as little as ninety seconds to perfectly cook some pizzas. Great for lunch on the go!
Pasta prepared in the open kitchen is also an option which can be delivered pronto. You can see your sauces being freshly prepared, as the steam rises above the whites of the chefs’ uniforms, the scent coming across in waves with each shake of the pan. The Beef Corn Cream Tagliatelle is a tongue twister but you’ll really enjoy the creamy texture of this al dente main.
A typical main is Veal Escalope, thinly pounded, profusely bread-crumbed and then fried to keep the halal meat moist. Chestnut mushrooms in gravy top the succulent veal and with a side of well-seasoned linguine, this is a filling choice. When it comes to mains, starters and more, there is definitely choice at Boccini, where their motto is, “First we eat. Then we do everything else.”
Boccini is located in SoKu, Grand Avenue, Avenues Mall. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @boccinikw for the latest updates, or please call 2220 0669 for more information or for reservations. Boccini is open daily from 12.00 noon – 12.00 midnight. Photography by Muneera Alkhulaifi, you can follow her @I9ora on Instagram.