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Posted by DID 15 Jul 2010 13 Comments

Ok, so truth be told, I totally walked into this place with low expectations. We were meeting friends for dinner in the Southpoint part of Durham and stumbled upon Bocci in Sutton Station. It has an incredibly large menu and feels kind of like a chain restaurant.

Then the waitress came to the table and won us over with two simple phrases, “we have bocci sets if you’d like to play in courtyard” and “beer is on special tonight” ($1.50 domestics, $2.75 imports). Sipping on Peronis, we placed our orders with newly opened minds.

And the food was great. Out of six people, the only entrée that disappointed was actually mine. I ordered the Pizza Margherita, which was actually more of a flatbread with sliced tomatoes (not ripe) covering it – lots of fresh mozzarella rounds and tons of fresh basil saved it. It was fine, just nothing special.

Everyone else ordered well. The Monte Mare (linguine covered with shrimp, sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and pepperoncini in a wine sauce) was really good. The gnocchi in the Gnocchi Siciliano were light and fluffy and the dish was studded with hunks of fried eggplant, olives, capers and covered in marina. The cheese calzone and Pizza Bianca were exactly what you want them to be – cheesy, garlicy and comforting. The portions were large and prices weren’t terrible. Pizzas are all around $9.50 (for a really big, eight-slice medium), while pastas are a little more pricey ranging from $10-$20.

Over all, I wouldn’t drive cross-town to go to Bocci again. But if you happen to be in the Southpoint area or live in that part of town and are looking for a chain alternative, you could do much worse.

On nice afternoon – in the courtyard, Peroni in hand, playing bocce, followed by a big pie or bowl of pasta – well, maybe it is worth the drive. (Note: Apologies for the poor quality pics – my camera didn’t do well in the dark booth of Bocci.)


5850 Fayetteville Road
Durham, NC 27713-6289
(919) 206-4067



  • citizenspain said:

    Agreed, you could do much worse, but the problem with this place is that the menu is too big and unfocused. Gordon Ramsay needs to come in and whittle it down for them. Being an Italian restaurant doesn’t obligate you to offer every standard dish, with none of them a stand-out specialty. I’ve ordered a few different pasta dishes at Bocci, and found them all to be needlessly large and covered in a goopy sauce. I would visit more often if their menu was only 10 dishes that were each expertly crafted, not these typical giant bowls of x + y. You don’t need an enormous mound of pasta to enjoy it, and it doesn’t need to be drenched in sauce for the sauce to be noticed. To me, this is a place where people go to stuff their faces, not to appreciate the mingling of flavors.

    The pizza and the outdoor seating are the only factors that keep me coming back, which isn’t often. I live 2 minutes from Bocci, but drive out to Piazza Italia when I want good Italian food.


  • patrick said:

    being a superb pasta maker at home I rarely go out to eat pasta. that said ive never tried theirs. however as a resident of the southpoint area their pizzas are the best around and for that they should be commended.

    i agree with the previous commenter about the need to not be so safe in their “white people italian food” as I often call it and elevate the standard, cut the portions, be daring and interesting with the sauces. stepe away from the olive garden folks. unfortunately many people’s palates are still not trained to be more daring and interesting and it could affect the bottom line of restaurants in the middle of suburbia/mall culture.

    its getting better to be sure as long as we demand better, someone will step up to serve it.


  • RG said:

    Bocci’s pizza is one of the best…I believe this restaurant is related to the Cinellis chain in some way….the pizza is also very close.


  • burgeoningfoodie said:

    I have enjoyed both times I’ve been to Bocci’s. I mean it is what it is and would definitely go there before going to a chain like Carino’s. I mean you basically have Bocci on one end of Woodcroft and Pulcinella on the other.


  • Fuzzy said:

    What a weird review. Bocci consistently has some of the best pizza in this area — we tend to get the “brick oven style”.

    On the other hand, the rest of their dishes have always been a disappointment to us, and we quickly quit ordering anything BUT pizza. Historically they don’t even have great mixed drinks, so it really is a beer and pizza joint to us.

    I live in western orange county, and if we want pizza, it is worth it to call Bocci and go drive to pick up take out, than get it anywhere closer.

    And Bocci has been around here for years now.


  • MEZ said:

    I love Bocci’s, and yes, they’ve got a lot of standards–sometimes a standard is just what you want, but I do think they’ve got some experimental combination on the menu also, spinach and ricotta balls come to mind. The sauces are lighter than Pulcinella’s, which means they appeal to me more, though I’ve only tried Pulcinella’s once, to be fair. Pizza’s definitely great, and I can walk there easily, so that’s always a bonus. The only con for me is that their espresso machine never seems to be working.


    Der-K replies on July 29th, 2010 at 9:20 pm:

    I like Bocci quite a bit (used to be a Cinelli’s and I don’t think the menu changed much with the name alteration). Most of their pizzas are solid – best I’ve had in the Southpoint area at any rate – the rest of the menu is kind of hit-and-miss by dish (this is likely a function of what I’m electing to order, mind you – and I think my favorite (pasta w/ chicken, broccoli, sausage, and peppers in a vinegar-based sauce) is quite good, but that’s why it’s my favorite). Portions are overly large, which I’m cool w/ as I take leftovers home. Pizza-wise, they stomp Pucinella’s concave + they’re better at some of the non-standards. If you want lasagna or the sort of things I grew up eating, Pucinella’s may be a better choice.

    Of note, some of their lunch deals are pretty well priced, but the wait is problematic.


  • Laura said:

    Bocci is a great place to take kids when the weather’s nice. Parents can sit outside on their pleasant patio and drink wine while the kids cavort in the large grassy area and fountain, always visible from the seating area. And I agree, the food is quite good.


  • kevin said:

    I started eating at Bocci when it first opened as a Cinellis. I now ive in Cary and still drive over to Bocci for dinner. I love their pizza, and frankly most of the food I’ve had when I’m there. But to me, food isn’t what brigs me back.

    They quite possibly have the best patio dining anywhere in the triangle. If the weather is not so hot that you simply don’t want to be outside, you can’t go wrong on their patio. Not only is it one of the biggest around (if not the biggest), but they also have live music from time to time.

    The menu is extensive. As other comments state its like they try to cover all of the typical Italian fare. And that’s OK by me. They don’t need to cook like a 5 star restaurant. That’s not what I go there for. I go there for staples like chicken or veal parm, pasta or pizza that I know will be tasty. And for a neighborhood joint, that’s exactly what I want.

    For a treat, walk across the patio after dinner to have one of the fabulous cakes from Nantucket Grill. The last time we ere there, we were the third table to have migrated across the way for dessert.


  • Sus said:

    Bocci is what I would call an “American red-sauce Italian” restaurant. Reminds me of an old red-sauce place I visited occasionally growing up in the 70s in South Carolina. I once ordered the eggplant parmigiano at Bocci just for a trip down memory lane, but generally just go for the brick-oven pizza. They do a great job with that. I like the vibe there – no hint of pretense.


  • Cat said:

    I’ve only eaten there once, and enjoyed the pasta (angel hair with shrimp, I think). However, I had the kind of restless sleep that night that a dose of MSG usually provokes.


  • RobC said:

    Tried it pretty randomly a few weeks ago because our town guest wanted deep dish pizza and it popped up on a search. I was really, really impressed. Good crust, excellent sauce, super cheese, very fresh and flavorful ingredients. Haven’t tried anything else there, but it may be the best pizza in Durham (better than Pop’s backdoor or Pie Pushers, even.)


  • Mimi Patterson said:

    Bocci is a solid restaurant. Not the best Italian food in the triangle but certainly no where near close to the worst. It is delicious. The pizza is incredibly cheesy and Bocci is never stingy on ingredients. I would like to see a different type of bread served before your meal though. The past few times I have been it was hard as a rock.

    If you’re feeling extra hungry I recommend the penne with pink vodka sauce. It is to die for and will leave you feeling completely satisfied. The portions (a little too big) allow you to have plenty of leftovers to take home which is nice if you like to heat up pasta a couple nights later for dinner.

    Finally, the caprese salad is also very tasty. It is always fresh and is a generous size. Once, I ordered it for my main meal and it was certainly enough food. A little more seasoning would be appreciated though.

    Has anyone tried the vodka sauce? It is FANTASTIC!!!


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