Review: BOCA

Ryan and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy dinner at Boca, a restaurant that is generally heralded as one of the very best in the city. Dining at Boca, for us, is an event – one that you anticipate for weeks on end (pro tip: make your reservation well in advance! They book up quickly.) It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Cincinnati – it just feels so special to eat there.

Boca is located in the space that used to house The Maisonette, on E 6th Street in downtown Cincinnati. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to dine at The Maisonette, a legendary restaurant that boasted the longest running streak of five-star awards during its 41-year run. There was a lot of hype when Boca finally took over the space and moved from their prior location in Oakley. Boca clearly had big shoes to fill – and they’ve done a splendid job.

The space itself is beautiful both on the outside and the inside. I’m not sure how it compares to The Maisonette, but I’m always blown away by the tall ceilings and the large chandelier. We dined in a smaller dining room to the right of the main entrance, which was great for conversation and equally stunning. The service here is top-notch, and you can’t help but feel like you’re in for such a treat from the minute you walk through the door.

Boca is located in the old Maisonette space in downtown Cincinnati.

Boca is located in the old Maisonette space in downtown Cincinnati.

One thing is for certain: Boca’s food is as delicious as it is beautiful.

I started with the Beet “Mezzaluna” salad, which was so ornate that it was almost like art. The beet and goat cheese were almost like ravioli – thin slices of beet wrapped around the most decadent aged goat cheese, with boca farm greens and hazelnuts piled on top. It was a stunning dish.

Ryan started with one of Boca’s signature dishes – the Seared Diver Scallop and Brussels Sprouts. Boca’s brussels sprouts are beyond anything you can even imagine. These sprouts are caramelized in a 3 hour process – making them unlike any other you’ve tried before. We were disappointed to find that this dish is now less flexible than it used to be – in the past, we could order as many scallops as we liked to coincide with the sprouts – but the sprouts themselves were anything but disappointing! Worth every penny of their $24 price tag.

Next, I ordered the Gnocchi con Fonduta – a dish that sounded so similar to my most favorite dish served in this city (Nicola’s Potato Gnocchi) that I had to try it. My photograph doesn’t do the dish justice – it was beautifully plated. The gnocchi were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was so decadent and rich. I think I would have loved it if I hadn’t have been comparing it to Nicola’s version, which is absolutely sublime. To me, Boca’s had too much sauce and not enough gnocchi – a notch below Nicola’s high standard.

Ryan’s entree, the Duet of Pekin Duck, was stunning in every way. The dish was truly an delight – roasted breast topped with wild huckleberry, with confit leg “egg rolls”, and sweet potato that they transformed to look almost like fruit! It was gorgeous and absolutely mouth-watering: a dish not to miss.

Save room for dessert! I opted for the Maisonette Chocolate Mousse, a nod to the fantastic restaurant that came before Boca. I have found myself thinking of this dessert long since our meal – it’s the ultimate.

Ryan tried the Foret Noire. Talk about stunning! There were new flavors to try at every corner of his dish. The chocolatey cheesecake paired with amarena cherries is Ryan’s dream. If you like a fruity dessert, this is the pick for you.

If you are a Cincinnatian and you haven’t dined at Boca, you’re missing out on one of our city’s most incredible dining experiences. The next time you have something to celebrate, grab your favorite person and give it a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.

Until next time,

LL