When DePasquale Brothers in South Medford closed its doors many years ago, Medford lost a true classic; this was an Italian restaurant that looked like it was straight out of a movie set, with red and white tablecloths, photos of Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Rocky Marciano, and others adorning the walls of the basement room, and heaps of old-fashioned Italian food like you might find at home (if you came from an Italian family, that is). And when it closed, it seemed like yet another unique Boston restaurant was gone for good. Fortunately, however, another similar eatery took over DePasquale's old location, and not only has Bocelli's kept the old-world atmosphere, but it has quite possibly surpassed DePasquale's in food quality, and is now a fixture in the wonderful old close-knit neighborhood of South Medford.
Walk into Bocelli's and you will find a similarly intriguing layout to DePasquale's, with a few upgrades here and there. The main floor looks like a pizza place (perhaps because it is in some ways), fooling many a patron into thinking that Bocelli's is a simple little takeout spot or cafe. Not so, however; if you look to the left there is a relatively hidden dining section and if you look to the right when first entering, there is a steep, winding staircase that leads to a cozy, romantic basement dining area where full Italian meals are served. And what food items they have at Bocelli's; delicious takes on such classics as pasta fagioli, deep-fried zucchini blossoms, Caesar salads, veal saltimboca, chicken parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana (one of the best in the region, by the way), shrimp scampi, fettuccine alfredo, chicken picatta, tortellini carbonara, house-made lasagna, and, yes, thin-crust Italian-style pizza (including sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom) that is much like that of the old DePasquale's. Beer, wine, and cocktails are available here, with wine perhaps being the way to go since the cozy basement room just feels like the kind of place where you order a red with a meat dish or a white with a pasta dish. The meals at Bocelli's tend to be pretty substantial, so be prepared to take half (or more) of your meal home unless you are very hungry.
More than a few people have sentimental memories of DePasquale's, including Sunday dinners, trips from work during lunch hour, and quick runs over for pizza to go. And Bocelli's indeed maintains the special atmosphere of its predecessor, while also upping the quality of the cuisine to a level that should satisfy lovers of old-fashioned Italian food.
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