Tocco | Wicker Park/Bucktown | Italian, Pizza | Restaurant
Italian trattoria and pizzeria from the people behind the late Follia.

Our Review

"Remember: good shoes, good wine, and good food make your life better. Ciao from Bruno." That’s the sign-off on the voice mail for Tocco, Bruno Abate’s high-fashion Wicker Park pizzeria/trattoria/runway, an adjunct to his couture-themed Follia. Relative to the McDonald’s that once inhabited the space, it does look mahvelous in a menacing, modish sort of way—the sort of place one’s droogies might peet the milk with the knives in it before doing the ultraviolent on some of the lewdies that are filling it up on weekends. But no one should doubt that serious pizzas emerge from the two wood-burning ovens hidden in plain sight behind the bar, particularly the three varieties of schiacciata, minimally topped flatbreads whose saucelessness allows the thin crust to develop in all its full blistered chewiness; I particularly liked the one with funky, full-flavored speck and melted Taleggio. However, the small rear kitchen responsible for the rest of the menu—antipasti, salads, house-made pastas, and meatier second courses—seems less capable of its mission and hampered by less-than-ideal ingredients. A plate of gnocco frito, knobs of fried dough that were undercooked inside, were accompanied by supermarket-quality salumi. And someone in the kitchen seems to be scared to death of overcooking starches, as evidenced by a granular polenta with a watery sausage ragu and tough paccheri (like supersize rigatoni) with spent chunks of pork. Gelati said to be made by a mysterious "old man from Melrose Park" were variable—a simple vanilla was smooth, creamy, and excellent, but chocolate was icy and over-the-hill, and hazelnut and pistachio were somewhere in the middle. Service is well drilled, featuring obsessive changing of the plates, as if an inordinate focus on the front of house might make up for neglect of the back. I’ve never had a look at Abate’s footwear, but I found myself wondering if the primary ingredient in his particular recipe for la dolce vita isn’t actually fine Italian shoe leather, with the vino and the food running a long second and third.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$
Payment Type: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

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