Bocado, Providence’s newest tapas restaurant has a Worcester location that's garnered positive reviews for over seven years. Their Providence restaurant is located on Valley Street, a space formerly occupied by Cuban Revolution. The layout hasn’t changed much, but it’s been updated with new furniture and art.
Bocado means “bite” in Spanish, an apt choice for the restaurant’s tapas-based menu. Everything can be ordered à la carte, but the “Bocado Experience” packages are a good way to turn tapas into a meal. We ordered the Experience for four, a choice of four charcuterie and/or cheese items, eight tapas plates, a paella or large dish and a dessert. Normally $135, it was offered for $119.80 extended from Providence Restaurant Week.
We started with a pitcher of house sangria ($23), pleasant and not overly sweet. The Charcuteria Y Queso (cheese and charcuterie) list features eight meats and seven cheeses (normally 1/$7, 2/$12, or 3/$16). Our four choices arrived on a large platter with a warm baguette. One was the classic Jamón Serrano, thinly-sliced dry-cured Spanish ham. Pato de Fumar, smoked duck breast with balsamic syrup, was hot-smoked in house and not very bold. The Cabra al Pimentino was a goat cheese similar in texture to manchego, a subtle paprika-rubbed rind adding more color than flavor. Our standout item was the Queso de Cabro con Miel, a recommendation from our server. A round of fresh goat cheese was deep fried, drizzled with honey and served with almonds. Unlike some fried chees- es, it remained crispy, light and clean.
Our table of food enthusiasts were serious enough to approach the daunting task of choosing eight tapas by digging for a pen and scribbling on the back of a receipt. From the selection of over 40 tapas, we aimed for a representation of different flavors, choosing from the frias (cold tapas), calientes (hot tapas) and the monthly specials.
Our first arrival was a Vegetable Terrine ($7.50), a layered loaf of roasted eggplant, red and yellow peppers, sundried tomato and artichoke, bound together with a creamy mix of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, topped with an asparagus and sweetpea coulis and tomato oil. I always find terrines an elegant tribute to good vegetables, and this was no exception.
The Bistec Crudo ($9) was a taste of thinly-sliced beef carpaccio drizzled with rioja syrup. In the corners of the rectangular plate, we found dark and sweetly bitter fried garlic and several pieces of manchego cheese. The Atún de Bocado (pictured above, $12) had slices of raw tuna dotted with a spicy avocado sauce. We fought over the two adorably waffled sweet potato chips.
We felt compelled to order the classic Tortilla Española ($5.50). A tapas staple, it’s a cold thick omelet made with potato. This one was served with a giant spoonful of tapenade and topped with red pepper crème fraiche.
After our first pitcher of sangria, we switched to this month’s special version, La Menta, made with elderflower liqueur and mint ($32/pitcher), a bit sweeter than the house version.
Our next dish, Piquillo Rellenos (pictured left, $8), was two small peppers stuffed with a cheesy ground veal mixture that included mahon cheese, basil and pine nuts. Seared Foie Gras ($13) was on the monthly specials list. The foie was served on top of a scoop of bacony garbanzo bean puree. The earthy flavors were complemented nicely by local rhubarb puree.
Pulpo a Feira ($10) was a huge hit and large compared to other dishes. Large chunks of Moroccan octopus and potatoes were complemented by smoky paprika oil and plenty of sea salt. Hamburguesas de Gambas ($9.50), two mini shrimp burgers, may sound like a strange concept but are tasty and reportedly popular.
For our paella, we chose the Clásica ($28), containing shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams, chicken and chorizo. We agreed that this was the weakest part of the meal – the rice didn’t have the richness that makes a paella memorable, as if it had been cooked separately from the other ingredients. Nonetheless, the quantity and quality of meat and seafood was good.
Dessert provided a nice ending. A fruit-garnished flan ($7) was easy to split. Four freshly fried churros ($6) were served with a warm chocolate dipping sauce.
Traditionally, tapas are bar snacks to accompany drinks. In this sense, Bocado isn’t quite traditional, but the restaurant’s spaciousness and broad menu turn the tapas experience into a satisfying dinner. The long bar, open space and ample seating make this new spot especially good for large groups and after-work fetes.
Bocado. 60 Valley St. 270-6080
*ONE MORE BITE: Well over half of the wines on Bocado's all-Spanish list are available by the glass. The menu features eight flights and smaller pours of by-the-glass wines, great for the wine curious.