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La Bocca, Edinburgh, review - does this neighbourhood restaurant add Italian flair to Stockbridge?

We try Stockbridge’s new Italian restaurant

Published: June 25, 2022
Categories:
Food: 
7/10
Ambience: 
7/10

Bouche, mund, zui, munh, mdomo.

The words for mouth, in various languages, are rather evocative.

I can’t wait for the opportunity to tell my husband to clamp his gaping mdomo, since he’s always flapping it around.

These words make a change from saying trap, laughing gear, gob, geggie, maw, kisser, muzzle or cakehole.

Not that there’s a lack of choice. In the English language or Scots, this body part is not like boring ears or knees, which only have a couple of synonyms.

The thesaurus tells me that bazoo is an option, and I also like that a lot. We wanted to fill our yaps on a visit to this new restaurant, named after the Italian word for mouth. Our eyes were shut, necks long and wobbly, and our boccas were expectant, like the wide open beaks of Springwatch’s nightjar chicks.

Feed us. Chris Packham would be impressed by our instinctive survival skills.

This new osteria is right opposite Scran & Scallie and in the former premises of Rollo. Though we’re a bit sad that this small-plate-serving venue has closed down, fans will still be able to visit its Broughton Street iteration, which is thriving,

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It looks slightly different from before, I think, though it’s been a while since I was in here. There are definitely less cushions and the sculpture has gone.

They’ve chosen an inky midnight blue shade on all the velvety banquettes here, and dark walls, so it feels like a burrow. They’ve almost completely managed to scrape the previous occupier’s strapline off the window, so there’s nothing but a ghost sign left, and there’s a bit of seating outside so you can gaze enviously at Stockbridge’s increasingly hip, young and upwardly mobile crew.

The music was rocking out, with Kings of Leon or something, playing, before segueing into Sam Cooke and Everybody Like to Cha-Cha-Cha.

From the starters list, we went for the capesante (£12), which consisted of half a dozen queenies served on a long plate and gathered in the middle, as if they were puppies huddling together huddling together for comfort, and flanked by two leafy clumps of lamb’s lettuce. Each scallop was the size of a Pan Drop and was lacquered with a sweet vinegar and topped by a few tiny chips of spring onion.

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Our other dish was the fonduta (£12) - melted cheese with garlic, rosemary and thyme. It was rather good, though watery, so getting it to cling to the accompanying and rather non-absorbent crusty bread was a bit like trying to apply sun-cream to a toddler or paint a bouncy castle. If we’d wanted to finish off this fontina smoothie, we should have really asked for a spoon, though we didn’t do too badly, dredging the porridge-y depths with our fork.

For mains, he really wanted the primavera ravioli (£16) filled with ricotta, Parmesan and slow roasted tomatoes in a courgette, wine and butter sauce but there was none left. Sadly for him, I’d got first dibs on the zuppa di pesce (£22), so he could choose either veal, fried fish, or caponata (£14).

He went for the latter, though grumbled that he would have liked more protein choices. Still, the neat portion of this Sicilian dish felt pretty summery and virtuous, with its pulpy mixture of celery, tomato and aubergine, as well as a crispy and acidic white and red cabbage salad on the side.

My small-ish bowl of zuppa was simple and rustic - mainly mussels, with a couple of sturdy prawns and pale shelled clams in there, a small chunk of cod and a third of sea bass fillet, all clotted with garlicky sugo and basil. And there were a few more bits of the toasted bread on the side too. I could’ve done with something else - maybe the patatine (£6) chips, to balance out the protein. Anyway, I had an excellent Aperol spritz (£8) to make me want to cha-cha-cha.

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There are just three desserts - the pannacotta, crostata (butter cake with fig compote and vanilla ice-cream) and affogato - but we made a break for it. The clouds had parted, the sun had come out and we wanted to get our lizardy and liver spotted bodies out there to bask.

Our bazoos? They were reasonably satisfied.

La Bocca

108 Raeburn Place

Edinburgh

(0131 374 1584, www.laboccastockbridge.com)

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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