There are restaurants that come on as the new trend, others that stand as an institution, and some that survive and thrive through change as time goes by. The trendies may flash and die while the traditionalists rely on history and reliable quality. The establishments that must reinvent themselves show the drive of the chef that made their name, and in Cincinnati, Boca is among those few that head to new directions.
Our bailliage has enjoyed past dinners at the original location in Northside, now the location of well received Honey, and in the present Oakley neighborhood. Boca is next headed downtown to the former site of the Mobil 5 Star restaurant Maisonette, where Chef David Falk and many other notable culinary stars started their careers. Close to his Mexican themed Nada, we await a new synergy and awakening to a historic dining district. But before that next chapter comes, we wanted to savor a last night in the waning summer.
We gathered on September 11th, 2011 for a final visit to the top rated restaurant where we expected a combination of Italian cuisine and individual twists from the chef’s world travels. A welcome flute of de Faveri Prosecco Superior showed a fruity yet dry match on the palate for two versions of bruschetta and wonderfully subtle deviled eggs with truffle and chives. Our first course of delicate salmon tartare in a chilled soup of carrot, radish and cucumber gave the freshest essence of raw vegetables with a silky texture. We enjoyed this with an unusual Sardinian Vermentino that had spicy notes similar to a Gewurztraminer.
Aromas of garlic permeated the room to announce a fabulous lumache con salsiccia fresca, not snails but rather snail shaped pasta with house-made sausage. A simple combination with porcini and Pecorino married flavors of great complexity for a show of culinary mastery. A glass of 2005 Luce Brunello di Montalcino, the joint project started by Robert Mondavi and the Frescobaldi family, was a mouth friendly confluence of flavors that danced like a rainbow on the palate for an unparalleled match with the pasta.
After a sorbet intermezzo infused with herbs and lime, we came to our primi course of butter poached prime New York strip. Served with rustic crushed Yukon potatoes, we got to compare 2006 Podere Sapaio Super-Tuscan from Bolgheri with 2004 Tenuta Carretta Barbaresco. The Sapaio showed unctuous notes of marrow and leather for an international character while the Carretta had classic perfume and fruit aromas that revealed restrained earthy flavors that would surely improve with aging.
We finished our crème brûlée and chocolate pôt de crème with a slight melancholy that the next version of Boca would not fully flower until the following year, but radiant in satisfaction that we could sup one last time at this illustrious popular venue.
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest