Timeout New York Kids

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Bocca Lupo

Photograph by Maria Valva

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Photograph by Maria Valva

By our estimate, panini became horribly clich somewhere in mid-2004, right around the same time your mom started insisting that the pressed sandwiches at Panera Bread were just as good as anything you could find in the city. So the opening of Bocca Lupo (Italian for “wolf’s mouth” ) hardly seems like a significant event—that is, until you get there and are swiftly reminded why you liked panini in the first place.

Jeff Lederman, a Cobble Hill dad and owner of the wee-but-satisfying juice bar Nectar, has packed his new restaurant’s menu with a creative and reasonably priced ($8 to $13) array of small plates and sandwiches that range from child-pleasing to decidedly adult (unless your kid really likes Taleggio paired with broccoli rabe). Although the space radiates a casually sophisticated wine-bar vibe, it’s emphatically family-friendly—of course, that’s all but a requirement for restaurants in Brooklyn these days—that’s likely why, amid a bevy of amorous couples sharing bottles of chianti, we saw no fewer than three families with small kids on an average Tuesday night. The junior diners happily noshed on dishes from the staple-heavy but crowd-pleasing children’s menu—including pasta with marinara sauce, accompanied by a juice box and chocolate-hazelnut pudding—or kid-friendly dishes from the main menu (velvety veal-and-porcini meatballs served on crusty white bread, for example, or a gooey Nutella-and-banana panino). Whatever noise the little ones made was lost in the din of the restaurant.

With the kids happy, parents are free to savor the generally excellent fare, like a mouthwatering “PLT,” featuring pancetta, arugula and roasted tomatoes; bruschetta topped with savory sausage, fennel and caramelized cipolla; and the chocolate torte with a generous dollop of hazelnut mousse, which was so luscious that our tot had to restrain herself from licking the plate. (Just skip the roasted vegetable panino, with too-thickly-cut veggies, and the bland ricotta-and-beet salad, which are both disappointingly pedestrian.) From atmosphere to food, Bocca Lupo provides such a grown-up experience that you can almost forget you’re dining out with people who haven’t yet learned to tell time. —TONY Kids

91 Henry St at Warren St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-243-2522).

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