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Other entrées are also smartly accompanied with well-conceptualized vegetables, starches, salads, and so on -- Bocadoro is not content to just trot out a few nouvelle items and surround them with a lazy smattering of sautéed zucchini and a mound of mashed potatoes. A moistly roasted Florida black grouper, with crisp crust of chopped shrimp and vegetables, hooks up with a peppy, roasted, red-pepper sauce, wilted baby arugula, and warm new potato and pimiento-olive salad. Arugula leaves also provide a nice counterpoint to sweetly pan-seared snapper dressed in black olives, tomatoes, capers, and garlic; a trio of tomato-risotto cakes alongside the fish was amazingly good.
While Bocadoro's cuisine has been partially compromised for the sake of less-than-adventurous eaters, it still exudes bold taste and praiseworthy integrity. It's hard to find much fault in even the weakest entrée we sampled, lamb kebabs, other than to say the grilled cubes of meat were a little bland, the peppers and onions skewered between were routine, the couscous below, flecked with currants, a bit dry. Lamb tagine was much finer, chunks of the same meat softly and semisweetly stewed down with figs, almonds, and golden raisins, served atop juicier couscous with a perky sauce made from the lamb jus blended with lime juice and honey.
Other appealing meat items include "pork osso buco," the braised shank aromatic with orange and rosemary and surrounded by tiny ricotta-potato gnocchi, and a whopper of a Tuscan T-bone for two seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, then sizzled at approximately 1,000 degrees -- the $55 tag isn't too bad when divided in half. Bocadoro's prices are quite reasonable for the portion size and quality of ingredients being used, and a meal here can be a downright bargain if ordered from a separate "Complete Dinner" menu that includes soup or salad, main course, and dessert for $19.95. There are plenty of drink specials as well, women imbibing for free and men for half price during weeknight happy hours.
You can drink down one of the desserts too, a gin and tonic layered in a martini glass with Granny Smith apple compote, diced bits of that fruit, and airy lemon foam. Another fetching finish comes by way of poached fruits (it used to include poached Holland tomatoes) in balsamic pepper syrup paired with peppadews (a sweet/spicy fruit) stuffed with olive oil ice cream. Daredevils should try this one soon -- I've got a feeling that when the next menu comes out, the peppadews won't be on it. In fact, this is my major concern about Bocadoro: that by continuing to scale down the food so it can appeal to the widest swath of potential patrons, it will begin to resemble a Mediterranean-based restaurant chain. I can swallow the loss of beef daube, but let's hope they don't turn Bocadoro into the Ricotta Cheesecake Factory.