The South End Italian restaurant, opened in 2007 by Michela Larson, Gary Sullivan, and Karen Haskell, is no more. It's unfortunate, as new chef Tiffani Faison revitalized the menu, leading to a three-star Globe review of Rocca in July. "She has created at Rocca one of those incredibly beguiling menus that make you want to eat everything on it," I wrote at the time.
According to Faison, the closure was a shock to those who worked there, as the restaurant had been busier than ever, with strong operating numbers. The last few times I was there, it certainly looked that way.
Faison is currently focused on finding new jobs for her staff. After that, she writes in an e-mail, "I've made no secret of eventually wanting my own place, so here we go with the bake sale!" (Her "Top Chef" fame ought to serve her in good stead when it comes to fund-raising.)
Faison also plans to stay local. "I love Boston and believe in what is just around the corner for the culinary and dining culture," she says. "I am determined to be a part of the next generation that shapes it."
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Rocca space, which has a first-floor bar area, an upstairs dining room, and a parking lot. Change is coming to the South End, with this development and Ginger Park's recent closure -- both large spaces. (Ginger Park chef Patricia Yeo will also stay in Boston -- among other reasons, she told me, she finds the restaurant industry here very friendly to women.) Rumors are afoot about several other neighborhood restaurants that may soon shut down. It's worrying. It's also an opportunity. What kind of neighborhood will the South End continue to evolve into? Four or five new restaurants could have a significant hand in shaping its flavor.
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.