- 2708 Paoli Pike, Suite E, New Albany, IN, 47150
- (812) 945-7711
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
- Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
La Bocca NY Style Pizzeria, which opened last fall about halfway up the hill between New Albany and Floyds Knobs, Ind., isn’t much to look at. It has a look and feel drawn straight from the handbook of Spartan strip mall design — floor tiles and glass windows, a cold case by the door (soft drinks and the like) and a display case at the service counter stocked with ready-to-go slices of pizza, wraps, sandwiches and so forth.
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But step through the door, and you find yourself in an atmosphere saturated with the smells of butter, garlic and tomato sauce — all the smells of old-school Italian-American cooking.
Mimmo Makareous (whose brother owns La Bocca Restaurant in downtown New Albany) and Antonella Porceddu opened La Bocca Pizzeria last fall, and the steady stream of folks picking up carryout pizzas and pastas bears witness that even in a land where Arni’s Pizza (1208 State St., New Albany; 3700 Paoli Pike, Floyds Knobs) is — for good reason — a community tradition, there’s room at the table for a newcomer.
And La Bocca Pizzeria brings plenty of good stuff to that table: smelly, buttery garlic knots (a quarter each); Sicilian rice balls covered in molten mozzarella and red sauce, and big enough that a single portion could serve as a starter for four ($4); a Greek salad that features flavorful pitted Kalamata olives ($7.50), and a lengthy menu that includes panini, hot and cold hero sandwiches, a full slate of pastas (including several seafood options), and an extensive menu of pizzas, including several elaborately composed specialties.
Baked rolls of pizza dough stuffed with choices like spinach, broccoli, Italian sausage or ham, mozzarella and provolone ($5) make for crisp, golden brown shared snacks or light meals. A hero sandwich filled with house-made meatballs and sauteed bell peppers ($6) is built to satisfy the most ravenous lunchtime appetite, priced $5.50-$8.
Pastas (spaghetti, penne, linguini and rigatoni) can be dressed with satisfying simplicity (garlic and oil, $6.50), with a luscious Alfredo ($9), or in a red or white clam sauce ($9.50). And even if a plate of shrimp scampi ($15) suffered because the featured ingredient was overcooked and dry, the flavors were nicely balanced, and the sauce itself was an intense expression of garlic and the faintly briny flavor of the ocean.
Better executed was eggplant rollatini ($12.50), tight cylinders of thinly sliced eggplant wrapped around a savory, oozing core of ham and ricotta. And there’s no denying the ample comforts of dishes like baked ziti ($8.50) or piping hot meaty, cheesy lasagna ($10.50).
Speaking of piping hot, that’s just the way most dishes arrive at the table. The restaurant is small. Some of the kitchen operations (including the tossing of pizza dough) happen in the open. And the owners are almost always around, greeting and taking care of customers — and making sure dishes move straight from kitchen to table.
Beers and wines aren’t yet available at La Bocca Pizzeria, but carryout and delivery are, and I’m told by friends who live in Floyds Knobs that it’s pretty nice to have an order of pasta puttanesca ($9.50) and a pizza show up at the door.
Pizzas are the heart of the matter, after all, at a place that dubs itself an NY Style Pizzeria. And they’re pretty good. The hand-tossed crusts are thin, and pretty satisfying, notwithstanding a certain floppiness at the thin edge of the wedge. Fourteen- and 16-inch pizzas start at $10.95 and $11.95, respectively, and an assortment of pick-your-own toppings is available (starting at $2 each).
Some of the toppings are worth singling out. The house-made meatballs are fine-textured and flecked with herbs; order sausage, and rather than the usual crumbled stuff, you get slices cut lengthwise from links of dense, firm, spicy Italian sausage; green peppers are lightly sauteed before being sprinkled on the pie. And the kitchen has a keen touch for balancing cheese, sauce and crust.
More than 15 composed pizzas are also available. There’s an artfully designed Caprese pizza that has the spring-like appeal of the classic salad — fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions and mozzarella — except that here it’s perched on a crust ($18). Heartier appetites may be lured by pies covered with baked ziti ($18) or lasagna makings (meat, ricotta and green peas; $19.50).
But folks looking for meat-free options will appreciate choices like La Bianca (spinach, ricotta and garlic; $18.50) or the vegetarian pizza, a colorful affair topped with mushrooms, peppers, fresh tomato and plenty of green stuff (broccoli, for sure, and sometimes chunks of zucchini; $18).
Whether you eat in, carry out or order for delivery, you’ll want to finish up with the sweet pleasures of cannoli or tiramisu.
You can email freelance restaurant critic Marty Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.