Behind The Bar: TJ Natole of La Bocca

A Valley staple and local fave, La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar brings the best Mediterranean and Italian flavors together to create a mouthwatering menu of items like truffled mushroom pizza, smoked prosciutto Alfredo and charcuterie plates. And with such delicious eats, it’s no surprise that the bar is pouring up top notch drinks to wash it all down with. Not only does La Bocca have an extensive wine list, it also pours up house-made sangrias, house-made seasonal cellos and handcrafted cocktails that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. We had a chance to jump behind the bar at La Bocca North at High Street to meet the three seasoned bartenders/mixologists who are amping up the cocktail program in North Phoenix.

Keep reading to meet the first bartender, TJ Natole, as he shares his top recommendation, his favorite drink and a tasty recipe for anyone who’s a fan of rum.

Name: TJ Natole

Favorite drink to mix: Pisco Sours. It’s a cocktail that people ask questions about if they see me making it. From the purpose of the egg white to what Pisco is (a South American brandy), it’s a great cocktail to tell a story over. Also, I really like being able to show off a little Angostura art as the garnish.

I’d most like to mix a drink for… This is random, but Chris Pratt. I don’t even know if he drinks, but I fee like he would appreciate a good cocktails, and he seems like he’d be great energy at the bar. And obviously I’m a big fan.

If I could have one superpower while working, it’d be… To telepathically understand people’s palates. Giving recommendations with that ability would be pretty amazing service.

If I were a flavor, I’d be… Black licorice. Not everybody gets it, but those that do really like it.

My top recommendation at La Bocca is… Heirloom beet salad adding prosciutto and whatever cocktail we have barrel aging (currently the rye-ters block).

When I’m not working, I enjoy sipping on… If I’m out at a place that has good cocktails, it’s all bartender’s choice for me.

Strawberry Rhubarb Whiskey Sour

  • 1.5 oz. Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • .75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz. Strawberry shrub
  • .5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 2 dash Rhubarb bitters

Directions: Combine ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a double rocks glass and garnish with candied rhubarb.

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Left to Right: TJ, Tony, Michael
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