Best Restaurants No. 7: Boca Dreams Up Innovative Dishes

For the operations team, chefs, and service staff at this downtown restaurant, each dish is a labor of love—and no detail is too small to overlook.
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Halibut with parsnip purée, cauliflower, grenobloise, and hazelnut.

Photograph by Catherine Viox

To make Boca’s pommes soufflés, aged, peeled potatoes (fresh won’t work, as owner David Falk found out) are cooked in oil at a low temperature until perfectly puffy, placed on a tray to cool, then fried to a golden brown before service. It’s a lot of work for an hors d’oeuvre, but the ends justify the means.

The result is a dish so delicate that touching it with too much force can cause it to crumple (far better to ever so slightly pinch it and pop what tastes like the distilled essence of French fry into your mouth). In a way, these delicious morsels serve as a metaphor for fine dining itself. When atmosphere, service, and food are absolutely pristine, we hold our breath, hoping that no wrong move deflates the tenuously perfect evening.

At Boca, that wrong move never comes. Service is impeccable. Food gets fired out of the massive kitchen with the consistency of German trains. And it’s always good. The beet mezzaluna, thin and oily like a good crudo, offers the perfect balance between sweet and salty flavors. The Amish chicken is as soft and buttery as the mushroom truffle risotto it sits on top of.

One of the reasons that Boca operates so seamlessly is Falk’s knack for putting the right people in the right places. Over his 20-plus years of running top-tier restaurants, he’s realized that some chefs are better innovators and some are better executors. That’s why Boca has an operations team, including Chefs David Mattern and Kyle Roberts, that helps research and refine the dishes that will come out of Boca’s immaculate kitchen. It’s an unorthodox style of management for an independent restaurant, but it’s clearly working.

Best Dessert 2023: Boca’s The Candy Bar 3.0

Photograph by Catherine Viox

This nutty, chocolaty dessert coats the flavors of childhood in an adult decadence with grand cru chocolate, nougat, brownie, rocher, and hazelnut ice cream.

114 E. Sixth St., downtown, (513) 542-2022, bocacincinnati.com

See the full 2023 Best Restaurants list here. 

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