A few years ago, Julien Cohen added another fashionably trendy notch to his Italian belt with Il Professore & Gocce. But unlike his earlier bobo pizza joints, (Pizza Chic and Grazie) this venture seems bigger and more ambitious.
The first “room” in this restaurant & lounge is Il Professore, a large, lively and sometimes loud trattoria. I ate here just after their opening in 2013. The food was tasty and the ambience was fun, but the service in the bar was just so-so. As a result, I didn’t get back in for further review and taste testing until now.
Beyond the restaurant is Gocce, the bar. And it’s a very, very sexy bar. Low lighting, book lined walls, candles, sofas and cozy nooks make it hard not to slip into a seductive mindset while sinking into their soft armchairs.
While you can most likely get one here, this isn’t the all-about-Spritz kinda Italian joint. The cocktail menu was originally conceived by Oscar (the quietly intense barman who opened the bar at Grazie)and has changed little (if at all?) since then. The first of three sections offers up twists on classics like Infused Negroni (a regular negroni with some walnut and artichoke infusions) or the Ramos RIP, which involves genever, yogurt liqueur and rose syrup among other things.
Oscar’s touch is especially present in the “Perfume” section, with four drinks all featuring custom cocktail perfumes like the Terra Mare Gin Tonic made with Gin Mare, Fever Tree and a house made sea water spray. Finally, the ‘Flower and Spice” rounds things out and is pretty self-explanatory in terms of flavor profiles.
Between the sprays, infusions, hot cocktail, multiple ingredient recipes, homemade syrups, wines and waters, and wide range of spirits there’s a lot going on with this menu (and at a time in which – I predict – we are going to start seeing menus and recipes moving to something more simple and with fewer ingredients). They also have (had?) a cocktail that is both barrel and bottled aged with the Oxidate Martinez Reverse. However, they were out when I recently ordered it and I suspect they may not restock the barrels. Yet, even with so much happening, the classic twists are all well balanced, interesting and confidently strong.
Because of all that’s going on, this isn’t the kind of menu that can be successfully put together by just anyone and you’ve got Oscar’s bar skills to thank for this one, even if he’s no longer around. I’d say here, it’s better to stick with the tried and true rather than go off menu and expect the bartenders to deliver something of the same caliber off the cuff. I say stick with the menu also because my martini order on the original visit was met with a raised eyebrow and a little attitude. (see previous note about service)
Drinks are reasonable for the quality and effort at 13 Euros each and, contrary to my first visit, service was exceptional this time. The hostess walks you to your seat and then through the menu. A small slate plate of fluffy focaccia bread comes with the drinks.
For what it’s worth, I think this could be a great first date spot. You can begin in the fun and more rowdy restaurant area (less low light pressure) and then take it back to the more romantic ambience in the bar for an after dinner drink or two. It’s also one of those places that seems like a really impressive find, so if you’re date doesn’t already know about it, they’ll think you’re super cool for knowing about this semi-hidden back bar.
Overall: Cohen has created another successful Italian style restaurant with some interesting drinks in line with his others. This one is the sexiest of the three and worth stopping, sticking with the usual menu or for something sophisticated but simple like a glass of wine or bubbles.
Gocce at Le Professore
7 rue Choron