In 2007, I had the opportunity to visit Italy. My journeys carried me through Venice, Florence and the Tuscan countryside proper as my husband and I marveled at the beauty of Campestri. In mid-August, I revisited Italy . . . sort of.
At the tail end of an adventurous holiday in The Netherlands, the trip was commemorated with a visit to Trattoria La Bocca, a simple but cozy 35-seat Italian restaurant at the end of a shopping esplanade in the village of Landsmeer. As four friends gathered to break bread, imbibe the nectar of the gods and have a laugh or two, we enjoyed the hospitality of Trattoria La Bocca’s proprietor, who treated us like we were la famiglia.
The festivities began with a colorful array of appetizers. At the forefront were bundles of zucchini filled with spinach and basil leaves topped with mozzarella that were not only aesthetically vibrant but lively in the mouth as well. The follow-up plate contained an assortment featuring risotto and cheese stuffed tomato with pesto, artichoke hearts with spinach and cheese, green lip mussels and, at the epicenter of it all, a medley of red pepper with chopped eggplant.
The “picky bits,” as affectionately referred to by one of my dining companions, while not offering much variety in terms of texture did play across the landscape of my tongue nicely. The one star that didn’t shine so brightly, however, was the mussel. While the flavor was acceptable, it was far too hard to be wholly enjoyable. This, however, was not a blight on the evening nor the overall meal.
As we waited for our entrées, a wildly aromatic fragrance wafted to our table as the waiter waltzed past with a large tray. I salivated. Literally. And when the waiter broke through the salt encrusted shell to expose the full brunt of aroma and beauty of dorado steamed in its own juices, I envied the diners who were about to partake in the glorious meal from the sea.
Trattoria La Bocca’s menu isn’t very large, but the choices are enough to cause anyone to struggle with making a decision. My selection of quattro formaggi was slightly off-menu but one which was happily accommodated, much to my delight. One bite of the pizza, with its four distinctive cheeses, and I was transported back to Italy. The sharp pungency of the gorgonzola elevated the pizza to new flavor heights.
Sicilian style cod with capers, tomatoes, red onions and olives was a show stopper. The brininess of the olives, the piquant kick of the capers, the sweetness from the tomatoes, the bite of the onions and the unadulterated flavor of the fish melded together to form a delicious and melodious dish. A second seafood selection, the grilled tuna with rocket and salsa, was prepared extremely rare—to the recipient’s liking—and yielded tenderly to a knife and fork.
The pizza la Bocca was a blend of rocket, thinly sliced Parma ham, and shaved mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Each element of freshness blended in concert to create a cohesive fusion of hot and cold.
An interesting side of roasted potatoes with garlic, chicory, rosemary and olive oil was shared by all and capped off the meal.
Well, not quite.
There was still the small matter of dessert, which really wasn’t a small matter after all.
When a grand dessert platter replete with tiramisu, panna cotta, limoncello, tartufo and sorbet is placed in front of you, you don’t stop to think about calories, fat content or how stuffed you already are. Somehow, you manage to make room and, ultimately, you’re glad you did. Every bite on the platter was toothsome and pleasurable. So much so that should my efforts to occupy the sprawling kitchen of our friends Gaynor and Ferry fail miserably, there’s always Plan B – I know where to dine on my next visit to Landsmeer: Trattoria La Bocca.
Trattoria La Bocca, Nieuwe Gouw 18, 1121 GX, Landsmeer, Netherlands / 011 31 20 482 2406