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BoccaLupo, where pasta happens

BoccaLupo ramen

BoccaLupo ramen

Freud said there were two essential human instincts — Eros and Thanatos, sex and death. But BoccaLupo chef-owner Bruce Logue proves there is a third: Noodleos, a compulsion deep in our souls that tells us to bury our faces in bowl after bowl of his delicious pasta.

Logue understands the primeval pleasure of pasta like no other cook I know. All pasta. He appreciates the chewy tug of dried macaroni that you chase and spear with your fork, the silk of fresh fettuccine that you twirl and inhale, the crisp edges and steamy pockets of baked cannelloni. His menu — a few antipasti, a few desserts, an entree special or two but pasta, pasta, pasta — is a love song to the endless possibilities that start with flour and water.

In her four-star review of the Inman Park restaurant last September, Jenny Turknett said that BoccaLupo “had the makings of Atlanta’s next great restaurant.” It’s already there if you’re just taking into account the sheer pleasure you get from eating here.

Would you like a rundown of our last meal? Glad to provide. We began with my must-have starter — Roman-style fried cauliflower with mint, capers and Meyer lemon, the bulky but light-on-the-arteries dish you want before you lose yourself deep in pasta love.

Something called “surprisingly good kale” spoke to us from the menu, and it was: spicy, toothsome, salty, licked with fat and set atop squares of fried polenta with pickled shrimp.

My daughter, who could eat nothing but Southern and Japanese food for the rest of her life, couldn’t resist the BoccaLupo ramen. These chewy, squid-ink-black noodles come in a collard green and pork stock with the greens, a poached egg and boiled peanuts. You could see the light touch and soulful layering of flavors before taking a bite.

White lasagna

White lasagna

I got the crispy white lasagna – dozens of thin layers of pasta flecked with béchamel and finely ground meat, served in a mile-high slice that had been seared to a crisp in a hot skillet. It came over a luscious fontina fondutta sauce with a bright scattering of dressed watercress for contrast. My kid and I Iaughed; it looked like we had each other’s order. We were happy to share, unwilling to trade.

Where does Logue get his ideas? He takes some. His black spaghetti with hot sausage and shrimp comes courtesy of the New York restaurant, Babbo, where he used to work, and the lasagna is a version of the 100-layer lasagna served at Babbo’s sister, Del Posto. I wouldn’t be surprised if others came from the various restaurants he trained at in Italy.

But it all comes from the heart. One bite, and you know this. Logue may pay silent tribute to his mentors, but it’s all in service of giving you that moment with a bowl of his pasta. You and your noodles. Eros and Thanatos can take a hike, you’re busy eating.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

6 comments Add your comment

RK

February 6th, 2014
12:04 pm

You’re killing me — the second review today I’ve read about them. I wish I could get a decent weekend reservation or they were opened on Sunday.

John Kessler

February 6th, 2014
12:28 pm

Ah, here’s my trick. Go early and eat at the bar. It’s a great eating spot, and it doesn’t fill up until well past 7.

Jeremy

February 6th, 2014
5:17 pm

Fantastic write up. In my opinion the best part about this restaurant, other than the pasta, is what i heard from a friend. She told me that it was started by the chef with little outside investment. No corporate or investor group money, just friends and family coming alongside a chef who had saved up his money and was trying to fulfill a dream.

I dine out a lot and know a fair amount of people in the industry. This is unusual. It is the exception to have a good restaurant open and succeed and not have a PR machine, a bunch of capital to smooth out the slow nights, etc. Its refreshing to see this type of restaurant in Atlanta.

It’s a obvious that the food stands tall and the soul in Boccalupo is more than enough. Most restaurant concepts and management have a lot of the other pieces but it’s the heart and soul that is often lacking. Maybe i eat out too much and can tell when it’s there and when its not.

Thanks to Ria for having the discernment and wisdom (I also heard she was very particular about who would be the successor to Sauced) to get a deal done with Logue. Her mural on the exterior wall of Boccalupo and her legacy in Inman Park continues on in so many ways.

Can’t wait to get back to Boccalupo soon.

Chris

February 9th, 2014
9:46 am

Thanks for the tip, John. I’ll have to try the bar on my next date night.

June

February 12th, 2014
2:13 pm

I’ve been going to BoccaLupo for a while. It’s reservation only most likely unless you want to sit at the bar. Great drink menu as well. Here’s my tip: get the pasta sampler and a few appetizers if you are one of the party of 2. Pasta sampler is not on the menu and is only known to people who know it. Great value for three pasta dishes and one appetizer. I like to be surprised at a restaurant rather than being served upon my choices sometimes, so I really liked their pasta menu.

Inhibition | MAVENETTE

February 13th, 2014
8:25 am

[...] – much more. I could even get a (Southern-style) ramen kick there, hopefully as interesting as John Kessler described it on the Food & More Blog. Yet Cliff Bostock’s experience trying the 4-course tasting menu is my fantasy come to [...]