Restaurant Review

Cape Town's revamped Bocca is rocking simple Italian flavours

This Bree Street eatery has new owners, a new look and a new menu. Kit Heathcock checks it out

27 March 2019 - 13:04 By KIT HEATHCOCK
Bocca is channelling an urban Italian energy.
Bocca is channelling an urban Italian energy.
Image: Hein van Tonder

In Milan, young professionals are too busy nowadays to sit down for traditional Italian four-course dinners after work. Instead, they’re adopting a more casual style of eating, say Guido and Adnana Brambilla. This urban Italian energy is what they’re channelling at Bocca on Bree Street, which they bought from the original owners, refurbished and relaunched in November last year.

“Our focus is uncomplicated, straightforward Italian preparations, in line with modern trends of dining out,” says Guido. “Instead of the traditional menu of antipasti, pasta, and main course, our menu is divided into sections and makes for interaction at the table – sharing, social dining.”

Pastas and 25cm pizzas are generous enough for a quick one-dish lunch, or mix and match dishes from all the different sections for a relaxed sociable evening.

In true Italian style, chef Guido lost no time in sourcing the best ingredients that Cape Town has to offer.

We loved the stracciatella: luxuriously creamy heart of burrata mozzarella from Puglia Cheese, embedded with juicy eggplant confit, tomatoes and a dash of pesto, shared alongside an earthy combination of octopus, potato and pesto – simple and delicious.

Bocca's meals have intense Italian flavours.
Bocca's meals have intense Italian flavours.
Image: Hein van Tonder

Having inherited a state-of-the-art Neapolitan wood-fired pizza oven, they couldn’t resist adding a few signature pizzas to the equation. Taking only one minute to cook in the intense heat, the crust is beautifully blistered with enough soft chew for substance.

We practically inhaled an Amatriciana: tomatoes, braised onions, pecorino and guanciale from Richard Bosman, the best sort of bacon fat – crisp and melting.

At night the pizza oven is cleaned out and huge joints of lamb, beef brisket, pork and chicken slow roast overnight in the residual heat for the arrosti (roasts) section of the menu.

Lamb with wild mushrooms fell apart in delectable abandon. Alongside small plates of roasted and marinated bell peppers with capers, and aromatic crispy potato wedges anointed with truffle oil and Parmesan, it was a real feast.

Bocca’s tiramisu ticked all the boxes: just the right consistency, rich but not too heavy. It’s made with fresh mascarpone cheese and is a fitting finale to a memorable meal, where intense Italian flavours lose nothing in their adaptation to local South African ingredients and their cool Bree Street setting.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit