All the hype was worth it for Bocca Grande Italian Steakhouse

During last year’s lockdown, I walked a lot of miles—like, a lot—on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. And on days when I would get really hungry during my hike, I would gaze longingly at Bocca Grande Italian Steakhouse as I re-entered Jackson Township and I would remember all the times I had heard how delicious the food was.

Bocca Grande Italian Steakhouse: 4.4/5 stars
Taste: 5/5 stars. I loved everything.
Service: 5/5 stars. We got good recommendations, and our service was perfect.
Ambiance: 4/5 stars. I love that Bocca Grande is situated along the Towpath and not in a busy retail area.
Concept: 3/5 stars. There are several Italian steakhouses in the area, but this one might be my favorite.
Pricing: 5/5 stars. I think our entire meal cost less than $40, and we had so much food left over, we had to freeze it.

During last year’s lockdown, I walked a lot of miles—like, a lot—on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. And on days when I would get really hungry during my hike, I would gaze longingly at Bocca Grande Italian Steakhouse as I re-entered Jackson Township and I would remember all the times I had heard how delicious the food was.

I tried it for myself, finally, for this review, and it lived up to the hype. If I had to pick an Italian restaurant to have dinner at in Stark County, I think Bocca Grande would edge out the other contenders.

That’s largely because the Tuscan Pasta Bake ($15) I ordered is one of the cheesiest, richest, best dishes I’ve ever eaten. It’s layer after layer of Tuscan red sauce, Alfredo sauce, tube-shaped noodles, spicy sausage and a hefty amount of provolone cheese. (My meal felt like it weighed several pounds.) I love a good comfort-food casserole, and that’s essentially what this dinner is, though the flavor of the sauces make it much better than anything I could concoct at home.

The salad, with the recommended house Italian dressing, and the Italian bread that came with my dinner were nice additions to the meal.

When debating what to order, I also was tempted by the lasagna, listed on the menu as “The Best Lasagna.” I love the confidence and, honestly, based on everything we ate, I absolutely believe the claim.

For our second entree, we picked the chicken Parmesan dinner ($15), which came with two chicken breasts, plenty of sauce and a pile of spaghetti with marinara sauce. The chicken was cooked perfectly and maintained its crispy exterior—easier said than done. The traditional wedding soup we got as a side also was excellent.

To round out our dinner, we tried the mozzarella “sticks” appetizer ($6), which were more like half-moon wedges of fried cheese the size of my palm. If this review hasn’t made it clear yet, Bocca Grande goes all-in on cheese, and I’m here for it.

With everything we ordered, we only sampled a small portion of the menu. Bocca Grande also offers seafood, beef and pork (including ribs), New York-style steaks, sandwiches and dessert. I’m definitely going to have to go back.

Aside from the food, the location is great. Bocca Grande sits along the Towpath Trail, with a cute patio facing Erie Avenue.

Bocca Grande is at 4490 Erie Avenue N and is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In addition to dine-in, food also is available for curbside pickup.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass