My wife and I are in constant search of the perfect meal. We both love fine food and all of the trappings of the dining experience, provided it's a good experience.
Boca is one of the few restaurants, especially in Cincinnati, that completely satisfies our strict (and slightly neurotic) criteria for the perfect meal: good service, quality food, thoughtful presentation, strong flavors, proper lighting, tasteful furnishings and a real kick-ass chocolate dessert.
Can I stress the kick-ass chocolate dessert here? In fact, if we know that a restaurant has a great dessert, our meal often becomes secondary. We just pass through it without interruption. No sauce that brings down the house. No stunning seasoning that makes me comment with a mouth full of food. It's just the winding path you must follow to get to the buried treasure.
Boca is not most restaurants.
Every step of the way is a joy. The service is good. Every server knows his or her way around the menu and is always willing to suggest a stand-out dish or dismiss a less interesting one. No annoying fake Aussie accents or a complete stranger sitting at your table calling you "buddy" and trying to up-sell you with a brand name root beer. They're all business.
The appetizers are good. There are two stand-outs: Tuscan Toast and Boca Fries. Picture, if you will, fresh Italian bread made crispy in olive oil with separate sides of roasted garlic, olive tapenade and anchovy mayonnaise. Now turn your attention to the crisp, flaky new-potato fries. Don't take sides. Take both.
It's at this point that I usually notice how loud Boca is. The sparse decor and hardwood floor (straight from a school gymnasium) make for quite a noisy place. We love that.