It’s easy to tell the difference between a gift that was purchased at Walgreens 15 minutes ago and a gift that was carefully considered for months. One is presented to you in a paper bag that was probably found in the backseat of a car and the other has lavender-scented wrapping paper. One comes with a card that you’re pretty sure is just the bottom third of an FPL bill and one has your favorite poem in beautiful handwritten cursive.
Eating at Boia De feels like getting the better kind of present - the one where every little detail was meticulously thought out. If you sit at the bar, you’ll spend a solid 10 minutes rubbing the black and white speckled countertop, demanding to know what material it is because you want to build an entire house out of it. Even if you’re understandably sick of cute bathroom wallpaper, you’ll spend a solid 30 seconds smiling at the cigar-smoking monkeys in the bathroom. This spot located in a shopping complex between Buena Vista and Little Haiti puts a lot of thought into the details and the end result feels like the gift of an actual human, not the generic design algorithm you’ll find at a lot of other restaurants.
And these details are present throughout dinner too, from the food right on through the plates it’s served on. The one-page, mostly Italian menu includes 20-ish dishes, and everything from the baked clams to the beef tartare is worth ordering. The crispy polenta has a totally even layer of shaved ricotta salata on top of it like it just took a stroll in a light cheese snowstorm. The tender pieces of hamachi all seem to have equal ratios of yuzu salsa verde and fried capers on top of them, making each a perfect bite. And they serve what has to be the classiest potato skin in the universe that’s topped with stracciatella, a hard-boiled egg, and a golf ball-sized lump of caviar.
Their wine selection is a lot bigger than you’d expect from a restaurant about as wide as a bowling lane and includes a variety of natural and orange wines, along with a selection of magnums. But if you don’t want to buy a whole bottle - or are concerned about not being able to see your dining partner over one the size of a garden gnome - check out the vermouth and sherry-based aperitivo cocktails, which are the sort of refreshing drinks you have to work very hard not to consume in under two minutes.
Once you’ve finished your drinks and food and possibly a scoop or two of pink peppercorn ice cream, you might not want to get up and leave. It’s a bit like how unwrapping the gift is the most exciting part, so you do it slowly because when you’re done, that’s it, and you’re left counting down the days until people will give you things again. But thankfully, each time you come to Boia De, you’ll get to unwrap this one all over again.
These are super crispy and come with a little side of marinated eggplant, which you can arrange onto your polenta chunks like a little tartine. Don’t think, just order this.
The baked nduja clams are not only delicious, but they come with a little glass dish that’s shaped like a shell for you to dispose of the empties in, and we can’t decide if that’s cute or morbid. Probably a little of both.
This hamachi is one of the best things you can eat here. There are also fried capers sprinkled on top, which are the best kind of capers.
We have never seen a potato skin treated with as much respect as it is here: stracciatella, hard-boiled egg, and caviar are arranged on top of the crispy potato skin - and the end result is going to blow your mind if you’re only used to the versions from TGI Fridays.
If this dish just included the hangar steak tartare, we’d probably order it every time. But when you add the creamy tonnato sauce to the equation and some slices of crispy bread, it’s worth coming here just to eat this.
These sweet pockets of corn and lobster mushroom are a solid pasta option - but it is (as the name implies) a sweet dish. If you want something a little more savory, try the pappardelle with rabbit.