Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coco Pazzo

Location: 300 W. Hubbard St.
Cost: $40 per person

A few weeks ago the med students (myself included) got an interesting email from the law students. Supposedly there's a new initiative to promote diversity among the law students, and they got some funding to bask in said diversity over a series of dinners. Ideally students would trade stories about cultural backgrounds and get some free food in the process. Generously they extended the chance to attend to the med students. I quickly responded and was chosen to attend a dinner at Coco Pazzo.

Coco Pazzo was probably one huge room at a time, but now it's separated into small seating areas by a variety of hanging curtains. The interior has a nice wooden design that feeds well into the upscale Italian dining setting they're trying to portray. We went on a Wednesday night and had a reservation, but I don't think that was essential. You may need to call ahead on the weekends, but otherwise walking in is probably fine.

The service was a little odd since two waiters split our table in half. The check was somewhat of a mess, but my glass stayed full, and all of the food came out in a timely fashion.

It's on the pricier side for sure at Coco Pazzo. Appetizers were in the $10 range, pasta dishes were all right under $20, and entrees ranged from $25-40. Portion size was variable with one of the largest pork chops I've ever seen and a somewhat smaller gnocchi dish for example.

The Food
The first thing we got was a gift from the kitchen which was a plate of some kind of flat bread with tomatoes. I'm not really sure what to think because the texture was mushy, but the flavors were all sharp. I got the Ribollita for an appetizer. It's basically a Tuscan vegetable and bread soup. Typically I crunch up a bunch of saltines in most of my soup, but being a ribollita this kind of came as I like it. The broth was thick, and there were a ton of vegetables. One of the guys next to me ordered the Risotto to start. It was creamy, but the grains were a bit tough, and neither of us were that impressed.

The Bread and Tomato Creation

The Risotto

 The Ribollita

For my main dish I got the Gnocchi with Boar Ragu. The gnocchi was a textural mess. There was no firmness at all, and some of the bites felt a bit like a starchy mush. Thankfully, the ragu saved the dish. It was savory, heavy on the meat, and not too gamey. I also got to try the Seafood Stew. The broth was heavily aromatic, rich, and spicy. The scallops and shrimp were cooked properly as well. I also snagged some pics of the Pork and Lamb Chops, but I didn't get a chance to taste.

The Pork Chop

The Seafood Stew

The Gnocchi with Boar Ragu

 The Lamb Chops

Coco Pazzo offers up somewhat high end Tuscan food that I'm not sure lives up to the price. I don't think I'll be going back any time soon, but there are enough positives and negatives in my mind to make me consider this an average locale. I'm giving Coco Pazzo 2.5 out of 5 Pearls.

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