Located in the historic town of Bowral in the NSW southern highlands, Cafe Rocca has become a local icon over the last 22 years. Known for their delicious mediterranean-inspired menu, and consistently great coffee.
Owners Raye & Michael have seen all the ups and downs of business and fashion over that time – however they remain focussed on what they do so well. The menu is both unpretentious and genuinely tasty. The combination of classic Italian favourites and Australian cafe staples all have that familiar warmth of family.
For Michael, the inspiration for Rocca began with the family restaurant in Haberfield. “My mom was a great cook, so was my father. We all knew how to cook. It was easy and natural for us.” Michael recalls. When a young Raye joined the staff at the restaurant, the two of them hit it off.
Eventually, they got married and Raye started work as an assistant to Mark Bouris – yes, the Mark Bouris (from channel 7’s ‘The Mentor’). As part of an investment in Bowral, Mark owned a cafe business. He had decided it was time to sell it off, and knew just the right people to take it over.
Raye recounts the original meeting: “Mark said ‘No, I think you’ll do great. I think Michael will do great’. He said, ‘Let’s set up a lunch’ And the next thing you know we had packed up and left our little place in Birchgrove and here we are…”
Armed with this unexpected opportunity, Michael & Raye got to work. They gave the cafe a new focus, a new menu and a new name – Rocca.
These days, it’s rare to see classic pastas on a cafe menu. At Rocca, they take pride of place, and for good reason; the flavours are amazing. Michael shares his secret: “the pastas are still made the way my mom showed me how to make them. The napoli sauce we haven’t changed in 22 years.”
The regulars all know how good the other lunch options are too. The lamb kafta skewers with hommus and toasted pide fingers or the Wagyu Beef Burger with beetroot chutney are among the favourites, and I can see why.
For breakfast, don’t even try to resist the crispy french toast with vanilla ricotta and a sensational house-made berry compote.
For espresso, the house blend is Black Mountain, roasted in our Canberra micro-roastery. As a piccolo it delivers rich, dark chocolate flavours with hint of spice. It’s both comforting and delicious – and a great match for the food.
The espresso equipment is anything but old-fashioned. A La Marzocco Linea Classic, Mythos One Grinder & Puqpress combine to deliver consistency. It’s something that the team take great pride in. Michael explains: “it doesn’t matter who’s on the machine. We try to have the same coffee every time”
Ultimately, it’s that sense of family that ties it all together at Rocca. As Michael says “I guess that’s why we stuck it out for 22 years. We like having people around, serving coffee and food. We’ve made a lot of friends over the years, let me tell you.”
8 Wingecarribee St,
Tue-Sat: 8am – 5pm