391 Henry St, Cobble Hill, 718-243-2522
Price Range: $15-20 Rating:
Even though Bocca Lupo sprouted up very recently on the sleepy, residential intersection of Henry and Warren Streets in Cobble Hill, it’s already more crowded than most restaurants on nearby Smith Street. Panels of glass on two sides of the corner restaurant reveal a lively assemblage of young families toting curly-haired tots, doe-eyed couples leaning toward one another over wine glasses, and tables of local 20- and 30-somethings in business attire, snacking on sandwiches and slugging beers. The lights are low, and the volume is high — which makes it the best place in the neighborhood to grab a pint and a panini, even if you’ve got to bring the baby. (There’s a kids’ menu, and usually a few strollers lined up at the door.)
If you can snag a table, you’ll be greeted with a reasonably priced wine list, a small plates menu, and a list of daily specials, but if the place is packed, just saddle up to the bar for a pint of Brooklyn Brownstone ($6) — a creamy, sweet, and smooth brew from Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook. Pair it with a Sweet Sausage Panini ($10), layered with mild, nutty cheese to balance a generous portion of bitter and garlicky broccoli rabe.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else on the menu that stands up to this sandwich — the fare here is similar to the offerings at Frankies 457 down on Court Street, but the food isn’t as deftly prepared. The Shrimp Diavlo ($13) is a bit overcooked, the Veal Meatballs ($11) are a tad too salty, and the Mac and Cheese is appropriately gooey ($9), but bland enough to make it a popular choice for the under-eight set. The Cheese Plate ($11) included an array of Italian formaggio, ranging from mild to stinky, but our harried server dumped it on our table without explaining which was which — a gesture that would have been appreciated.
Still, we’ve got high hopes for this place. Food-wise, they don’t hold a candle to the neighborhood heavyweights (like Ferdinando’s on Union or Sam’s on Court), but if you think of Bocca Lupo as a bar with particularly good Italian-inspired pub food, you won’t be disappointed. And best of all for Cobble Hill night owls, it stays open late — until midnight on Sunday through Wednesday and until 2am on Thursday through Saturday.