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Gocciolina Restaurant

Posted by DID 26 Jun 2014 11 Comments

As the condos go up and the pleated khaki pants invade downtown Durham, it’s nice to see new spots opening in unexpected locations. In addition to all of the new spots in South Durham, will North Durham be the new spot for those looking for a nice dinner without the downtown buzz?

Gocciolina, a small Italian restaurant, has opened at the end of a dying strip on Guess Road. The man behind Gocciolina Aaron Benjamin is a familiar face. In addition to studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo Italy, Benjamin spent time at Rue Cler and Pops.

Gocciolina has been open just over a week and is serving up small plates of Italian comfort food. We stopped in on a Tuesday and tried to sample a wide variety of the menu.

To start, we had the roasted beets served atop a fried eggplant (nice, but the fried eggplant was served cold, which was slightly off-putting), pickled shrimp and the salumi (it was salumi, it was awesome).

To follow, we shared the tuna crudo (our favorite dish of the night, bright with lemon balanced with house made sesame crackers), the pork roll (cheese, roasted red peppers and pork goodness) and the gnocchi, which was topped with a meat sauce and pesto (excellent and made me wish we’d ordered more pasta dishes).

Gocciolina is new and still working out some kinks, but it’s nice to see some growth on this side of town.

Gocciolina
3314 Guess Rd, Durham, NC 27705
(919) 973-4089
Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday

11 Comments »

  • Div said:

    Had such an amazing dinner here last week. This has become my favorite new restaurant to open in Durham in quite some time. The place is small, homey, and welcoming. Service was spot-on. We ordered a ton of antipasti, veggies, each got a pasta, and loved everything we were served. Everything was fresh and flavorful. With splitting a big carafe of wine and a dessert, we were shocked at what a great value it was for the quality and amount of food we ordered, and will definitely be back.

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  • ERDavi82 said:

    First off thanks so much for the write-up on this response. Even with the sign I still would have probably overlooked it.

    Finally got out there last night. Trout crudo with the sesame crackers was outstanding (and by the way I think that’s what you got too, not tuna crudo). Good salami selection, tasty meatballs and expertly fried eggplant for the antipasti — no complaints. Spaghetti All’Ametriciana was satisfying if a bit tame and the Carbonara was even better, delicious in fact. Every side we ordered was great too (broccoli, squash, butter beans). Deserts were also good though nothing extraordinary.

    Overall I love the pricing/serving size for the pastas as I would rather get a 1/2 portion or so size at 8-9 dollars and be able to order more things off the menu. I likewise was amazed at our bill — Gocciolina is definitely a bargain for food of that caliber.

    Will definitely be back . . .

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  • BDDR said:

    We were excited to finally get a fresh restaurant in North Durham. Love this place. It’s warm and welcoming. The staff is wonderful and very attentive. The food is fresh and flavorful. We haven’t had a bad dish yet. This is rapidly becoming one of our favorite spots!

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  • Rosemary thomas said:

    Trying to confirm 8pm reservations. Is it 8 pm or 7pm
    I have called twice 914-523-9375

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  • Stuart said:

    Who the heck wears “pleated khaki pants” in downtown Durham these days–a visiting professor? You might be projecting a little there.

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  • Bill Adams said:

    *BEWARE DON’T BE HAD* Took my family to Gocciolina on Saturday evening for a birthday celebration. Decided to go there based on the reviews posted on other sites. This was a HUGE MISTAKE! Make sure to read the Non Recommended Reviews they are mostly all actuate.

    Should have seen the warning signs:

    1) No one answers the phone or returns calls took 3 days to confirm a reservation!
    2) Horrible area beside Global Hearing Aids and an ABC Store.

    Once Inside:

    3) People constantly bumping into you actually had food spill on my brand new dress!
    4) 45 minutes wait to get our food! Everyone’s portion was basically a kids plate if that!!!
    5) Wait Staff inexperienced and confused to say the least
    6) Quality of food is better at a Golden Coral
    7) Save yourself some money and headaches this place in overrated & overpriced! I really felt sad I had made the choice to go here. Major Disappointment!

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    Foodies replies on July 12th, 2015 at 2:13 pm:

    COMPLETELY disagree…

    1) Restaurants that are in high demand don’t get to phone calls as quickly as you want. So persevere if you want to eat at a quality restaurant.

    2) The quality of a restaurant is not determined by location. i.e Magnolia Grill

    3) They are so popular that they do have a lot of people in a tight space, but they are addressing that issue by expanding and taking over the Global Hearing Aids which is in such a “horrible area” (sarcasm).

    4) Unlike McDonalds this is not fast food. Fine dining is meant to be savored, not rushed.

    If you equate quantity with quality you will not be satisfied. With appetizers and main courses, the courses are adequate.

    5) We went in February and five months later on our return, the wait staff remembered who we were and where we sat. They did not seem “confused”.

    6) If your pallet is acustomed to the food at Golden Coral, this is clearly not the place for you.

    7) After having been there multiple times, we found it to be high quality and reasonably priced. We can easily see why Greg Cox named Gocciolina the Triangle’s best restaurant of the year.

    We will definitely be returning and encourage others to enjoy what they have to offer.

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    Foodies replies on July 15th, 2015 at 10:02 pm:

    COMPLETELY disagree…

    1) Restaurants that are in high demand don’t get to phone calls as quickly as you want. So persevere if you want to eat at a quality restaurant.

    2) The quality of a restaurant is not determined by location. i.e Magnolia Grill

    3) They are so popular that they do have a lot of people in a tight space, but they are addressing that issue by expanding and taking over the Global Hearing Aids which is in such a “horrible area” (sarcasm).

    4) Unlike McDonalds this is not fast food. Fine dining is meant to be savored, not rushed.

    If you equate quantity with quality you will not be satisfied. With appetizers and main courses, the courses are more than adequate.

    5) We went in February and five months later on our return, the wait staff remembered who we were and where we sat. They did not seem “confused”.

    6) If your palette is accustomed to the food at Golden Corral, this is clearly not the place for you.

    7) After having been there multiple times, we found it to be high quality and reasonably priced. We can easily see why Greg Cox named Gocciolina the Triangle’s best restaurant of the year.

    We will definitely be returning and encourage others to enjoy what they have to offer.

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    ERDavis82 replies on July 29th, 2015 at 10:48 pm:

    I am sorry but I completely disagree about your first rebuttal. As I described below from my repeated experiences there, the reservation system is completely stupid. I have had easier experiences getting into Le Bernardin, Minetta Tavern, Alinea and Trois Mec than I have with Gocciolina. To use your term, ‘quality’ restaurants absolutely do give at least a little bit of a s&&t about making it clear about how exactly you may go about eating there. Further once you get in the door the host/maître’d is almost always on top of things. The complete opposite of Gocciolina

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  • ERDavis82 said:

    First off the prices are still great and the food is still solid (especially considering the Triangle’s dearth of good Italian food).

    The reservation system is insane. After going there 6 or 7 times this year and dealing with it, it is blatantly obvious that if you leave a message regarding a reservation, no one will ever call you back. It’s an exercise in futility.

    Only call during hours it is open and just keep calling if no one answers. Eventually that clueless lady who allegedly is the host will answer. To her credit, she will most likely accurately memorialize your reservation (she only straight up forgot once).

    Once you have a reservation, that’s the easy part. The real challenge comes when you show up. She is constantly flustered and will ‘check you in’. I’ve always gotten there at least 5 minutes early and have only once been seated within 20 minutes of my allegedly reserved time.

    Once you check in, it is absolutely crucial to speak with her every five minutes about your table’s status, especially if you are waiting outside. As soon as she checks your party in, she will immediately forget you exist. If you don’t keep badgering her about when you are going to be seated, you might never be seated.

    I have to stress that once your dinner’s fate is out of that lady’s hands, everything should be fine. I’ve never had service issues there and genuinely think the waitstaff is awesome.

    I really don’t understand why they can’t just give in and use an online reservation system. It doesn’t have to be opentable. Oakleaf in Pittsboro has their own online reservation system and it works fabulously (probably because unlike Gocciolina, Oakleaf actually wants you to eat there). And for christ’s sake get rid of that lady doing the hosting. She’s literally less useful than having no host.

    If you can deal with those hassles, the food is a real treat. I’ve not been since April because I haven’t gotten to the point where my craving for the food has outweighed how horrible their reservation and host are.

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  • Leigh said:

    I want to add to the issues with the reservation system. I have not managed to eat here BECAUSE of the system (or lack of one). I do a decent job of getting someone on the phone, always female. Problem is not only can I not get a reservation doing so seems like it would take work on my end. In my last attempt, I asked for a Saturday night at 7:00 – calling about a week in advance. I was told they did not have any tables available but if I came in around that time they might be able to seat me anyways because that’s usually when some tables turn.

    Soo…why am I not getting a reservation?

    Nothing else was offered as an alternative. So I tried to figure out when I could get a reservation on a different day and was told, “not for awhile.”

    I quit.

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