In Search of the Mysterious Rocco
Rocco's is Belltown's new pizzeria and cocktail bar. But who is Rocco? According to manager Bradford Meeker, the place is named after the owner's girlfriend's grandma, Rocca. However, he told me, "You're inside Rocco right now. Restaurants become entities, composed of the customers and the people who work there, the food that's served."
Rocco has great-looking insides, with a pressed-tin ceiling that takes its faux-antique look an immersing step further. The restaurant's collection of beer signs appear to have been designed by Midwestern robots during disco's heyday. In the dining area, live succulents are mounted on the wall in frames among movie characters etched on windows. There is something indescribably humorous about a cactus sharing wall space with an etching of the twins from The Shining.
It wasn't creepy to consume part of the entity that is Rocco—eating the very tasty squash puree, leek, ricotta, and sage pizza was like taking pizza communion. I'd compare the house-made pineapple chili shrub (a mixture of vinegar and fruit or herbs) with rum to a refreshing liquid version of convenience-store spicy dried fruit.
I believe I encountered the essence of Rocco in the bathroom, where a ceramic cat perched on a hardwood dresser beneath an etching of Dr. Brown from Back to the Future. When you meet Rocco, you'll know.