Soul Food: Close to Home and Heart

Close to Home and Heart

MonicaBy Monica Romig Green

When it comes to dining, my husband and I have been really, really spoiled. A dear friend of ours is a gourmand who introduced us both to the rarified world of fine and inventive cuisine. Because of our friend’s generosity, we’ve been blessed to savor multiple-course tasting menus at some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles and Toronto. These experiences have expanded our understandings about what is possible when a chef is an artist whose vision and excellent technique combine to make something truly special. And that vision usually extends beyond the food into the dining room itself, creating an experience that often is elegant and thoughtful, without being stuffy or snobby.

But recently we had a different kind of dining experience, one perhaps that is just as much an art form as fine dining: the warm, generous neighborhood restaurant. My husband and I live in an area of Dallas filled with restaurants of various styles. When some friends of ours were visiting, we decided to try out the new Italian spot called Bocce Italian Kitchen. And I’m so glad that we did.

In many ways, Bocce is the opposite of fine dining. The wait staff—while  very kind—were not terribly speedy. The décor would be called comfortable and homey more than stylish or refined. The prices were almost too reasonable for the high quality and quantity of food we received.


What Bocce possesses in masterful amounts is heart. There’s clearly affection and passion in everything we experienced there, from the warm greeting and regular check-ins from the owner to the mounds of delicious, hand-made home-style pasta, from the complimentary glasses of house wine to the desserts whose lack of external polish belie all the care and love put into the taste.

I love my fine dining experiences. They feed my soul the way that being in the presence of incredible art always does. They stretch me, challenge me, and invite me to consider horizons of possibilities beyond myself. But my soul also needs dining experiences like Bocce, where hospitality and generosity of spirit, coupled with dedication and hard work, remind me that we are all part of the same family, that love can extend beyond our homes into our neighborhoods, and that food made with great love can touch our hearts like nothing else.

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