Thursday, October 30, 2014 · 11:10 a.m.

Review: Boccaccia Ristorante Italiano

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Boccaccia Ristorante Italiano
3077 Broad St.
Chattanooga, TN 37408
(423) 266-2930

Our Rating
Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to, but it has a special menu item.

Dinner
Monday-Thursday:
5:30 - 9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday:
5:30 - 10 p.m.

Rating Guide


A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience and menu.


Memorable, high-quality menu, great service and atmosphere.


Unique place with generally appealing cooking and a few items worth coming back for.


Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to, but it has a special menu item.


Below-average restaurant.

From all I had heard and read about Boccaccia Ristorante Italiano, I was looking forward to having a nice meal when I visited there recently.

The place certainly looks the part. Located in the Southern Saddlery Building, a restored brick building at 3077 Broad Street, the décor is inviting. Diners are seated at wooden tables with legs made out of what appear to be railroad ties. The tables have a candle sitting atop them, a red placemat and wine and water glasses.

I liked the concrete floors and large wooden support beams. The dining area is dimly lit by stringed light bulbs. Exposed air ducts makes for a non-traditional Italian place, but very modern and unique.

The dining area wasn’t as large as I expected, and there is a small bar with two bar stools. Boccaccia offers an extensive wine list and top-shelf liquors.

The hostess led me to my table and lit the candle as I sat. I would recommend calling ahead for reservations for a party of four or more. It seems to fill up fast.

The night I visited, there were only two waiters for the entire dining room. It wasn’t that busy when I was seated, but I was there 20 minutes before I was greeted by a waiter or had my water glass filled. The poor couple behind me sat for 30 minutes before the gentleman had to get up and inform the hostess they hadn’t been greeted, either.

I sat for 30 more minutes before I received a menu. While I waited, I noticed the bartender drinking a glass of red wine in between pouring wines for customers. Drinking alcohol on the job is not good, but it’s even worse when it’s done in front of customers while you are waiting on them. I was really put off by this, but I hoped the food was worth all the waiting.

When I finally received my menu, all the food titles were in Italian, but the descriptions were in English and the waiter was helpful explaining.

For an appetizer, I ordered Prosciutto e Melone—fresh cantaloupe atop Prosciutto. This was a great flavor combo with the salt from the Prosciutto and the sweet juicy cantaloupe that was perfectly ripe.

I also ordered Calamari Fritti—fried squid with a spicy tomato dipping sauce, and I enjoyed it, as well. The batter the calamari was fried in wasn’t too heavy, and it had a nice light flavor with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The calamari was tender and the spicy tomato dipping sauce had just the right amount of heat.

For the main course I ordered the Rigatoni Nicotera, which consists of rigatoni pasta, creamy curry tomato sauce, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and grilled chicken. I was looking forward to the shiitake mushrooms because that isn’t a common mushroom you would find in an Italian dish, Portobello or crimini being the most common.

After the first few bites I didn’t get any hint of curry Curry, which is a blend of turmeric, coriander, and cumin, which are strong flavors, but it wasn’t present in this tomato sauce. There was an abundance of diced zucchini almost outnumbering my rigatoni, mini bites of chunky chicken—but there was no way to tell this chicken had been grilled—and one whole shitake mushroom cut into four pieces. The tomato sauce on its own was flavorless, like something out of a TV dinner Italian meal.

I also ordered the Spiedini Di Mare, a skewer of grilled scallops and shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto with spinach and arugula salad with shaved Parmesan. As an entrée this portion was skimpy—there was a grand total of four shrimp and two tiny scallops. Only the scallops were wrapped in Prosciutto, not the shrimp, contrary to what the menu said.

Like the description stated, the salad had more olive oil on it than actual vinaigrette. It was plated well, but again, the ratio of protein to vegetable was off. The shrimp did have a nice grilled flavor that wasn’t overpowering, but I got food envy when I noticed the woman a few tables over got six rather large shrimp and four scallops. I felt cheated.

As I was finishing my entrée, the waiter finally brought out bread and olive oil. He shouldn't have bothered. The bread was cold and stale.

I ordered two deserts. The first was the Crème Brulee, which I had high hopes for, but immediately I noticed the mint garnish was bug eaten and wilted. Not too appetizing, this could have been left off. As for the custard itself, the vanilla bean had fallen to the bottom, so there wasn’t any flavor. To prevent this it should have been stirred before being poured into ramekins and baked in a water bath. The custard was room temperature when it should have been chilled.

I also ordered the Tartufo Al Cioccolato. It’s supposed to be chocolate praline semifreddo, which means semi-frozen with a Zabaglione center (a very light whipped custard sweetened with Marsala wine) covered in cocoa powder and, sometimes, caramelized hazelnuts. This was not the case. Again I noticed the bug-eaten wilted mint garnish. The dessert was freezer burned - and I mean the flavor of an old carton of ice cream you rediscover in your freezer and try to eat, even though it has more crystals than a Cartier boutique.

You must abide by dates on product you bring in. If it is not an item ordered often, cut your loses and throw away old product.

I usually like coffee with my dessert, so I attempted to order, only to be told they were out of coffee but had espresso. So I ordered an Americano, which is the closest to regular coffee but has a unique flavor. I received a macchiato instead and the waiter told me that was what I ordered.

On the subject of my waiter, throughout the meal he was scarcely seen, and when he did emerge he was too busy looking at other tables and only half heard what I ordered. I won’t blame that all on him. I’m not sure why there were only two waiters working. Perhaps someone didn’t show up for a shift, but I thought my waiter was overwhelmed and would have paid more attention to me if even just one more waiter were on duty.

Hard to believe, but my meal took two and a half hours.

If you go with a group of friends for drinks and appetizers, Boccaccia would be an enjoyable place to hang out and have a conversation. It’s a great concept for Chattanooga, but on the night I visited, the food fell flat, and the service left much to be desired.

I give Boccaccia one star for the Calamari.

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