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Cover Story: Hot Italian

Bocce? Hot-chee!

By Katie Moser · May 31st, 2001 · Cover Story
Jymi Bolden

The hottest Italian offering in Greater Cincinnati this summer won't come with pasta. It'll be served on gravel.

It's bocce ball, the traditional Italian game that's played on a gravel surface about the size of a shuffleboard court. Players team up in pairs, and each pair receives four balls (boccia).

One player throws a target ball (pallino) onto the court, then each player takes turns throwing the boccia toward the pallino.

The goal is to get your team's balls the closest to the target ball. Each ball is worth one point, games are played to 12 points and match winners must win two of three games.

Pompilio's is one of only two places in town that has a public bocce ball court (Neon's is the other). The restaurant hosts bocce leagues Monday through Thursday nights, April through September, according to owner Joe Bristow. Participants must be 18. In September, the leagues participate in a tournament and the winner receives a plaque in the restaurant.

About 150 people compete in the leagues, and Bristow says there's a waiting list for teams to play. For those who really want to try out the sport, Pompilio's opens its courts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings to diners and the general public.

Bristow recommends coming before 6 p.m. or after 9 p.m. because of the game's popularity. "Bocce ball adds to the Italian experience, adds to the ambiance, and the league gets bigger and bigger," he says.

For more information about the game itself, check out www.worldbocce.org.

WHO: Bocce ball leagues and open play. · WHEN: Monday-Thursday evenings (leagues), Friday-Sunday evenings (open to the public). · WHERE: Pompilio's Restaurant, 600 Washington Ave., Newport. · INFO: 859-581-3065.



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