Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Restaurants

Restaurant review: New Boca Kitchen Bar Market is a hip, locally sourced treasure in Brandon-Riverview area

RIVERVIEW

When Boca Kitchen Bar Market debuted in South Tampa at the beginning of 2012 there wasn't much like it in these parts. A joint project of Gordon Davis and Kevin Enderle, it sourced veggies from Davis' Lake Hiawatha Farm in Odessa, pork from Nature Delivered in Brooksville, chicken and duck eggs from Lake Meadows Natural in Ocoee and Suncoast Food Alliance traipsed all over Manatee and surrounding counties filling in other farm-fresh produce several times a week, all of this listed on a chalkboard. It was among the first glimmers of real farm-to-table effort in our area.

At the end of December, BE-1 Concepts (parent company of Boca, with Davis no longer involved) rolled out a Boca in Riverview's Winthrop Town Centre. It's hip and energizing with a smart cocktail list, a "living wall" of snip-and-serve lettuces from Uriah's Urban Farms and local gems like Dancing Goat cheese dotting the menu.

Brandonites should be out of their gourds with pleasure. And they are, but it's a testament to how much progress has been made in this part of Hillsborough County that folks have taken it in stride. The shopping center alone has outposts of a number of successful Tampa Bay concepts (Ciccio, Acropolis, Cappy's, Eats! American Grill) and larger chains (Moe's Five Guys, Menchies). In short, savvy restaurateurs realize that Brandon/Riverview have been starved for good places to eat; they have the disposable income but don't relish driving over to Tampa or St. Pete.

This new 5,000-square-foot Boca (with others soon to pop up in Sarasota and St. Petersburg), is glamorous in a Restoration Hardware-ish way, with sustainability nods (tomatoes and peppers planted out front, all-LED lighting) that serve to enhance. They've picked up some of the quirky charms of the South Tampa location (you can buy the kitchen a beer for $3, or you can opt for the staff meal, market price, "just order it, the chef says you'll love it"), and they've added some novel ones. For instance, weeknights there's a dinner for two to-go for $29, with a rotating entrée, side dish, house salad and dessert. A 1,000-square-foot patio seems to rival the bar for best seats in the house, a generous private dining room can seat up to 65, and, as at the flagship Boca, a tiny retail area offers come-hither homey canned goods (some from St. Petersburg's Urban Canning) and prepared foods.

General manager Doug Scagliola is still getting his service staff up to speed, but executive chef Matthew Mangone exhibits a steadiness with what's sent out of the kitchen. These are pretty but unfussy plates, with a reliance on alternative serving vessels: excellent fried green tomatoes, $9, come out on a rough-edged slate, bone marrow with Urban Canning's pear and jalapeno compote, $12, arrives on a chunky butcher block, as does the prime burger, $14, with silly-good truffle Parmesan fries.

At the bar, it's worth investigating the bartender's drink of the day, although it's a hoot to read the fine print on the beer list. Each craft beer is followed by its distance from the restaurant (like to drink mega-local? Coppertail is the winner at 4.1 miles away).

Proteins seem more far flung, with less specific menu attribution. Free-range chickens fly in from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, N.C., and there are certified organic chickens from Tecumseh Farms in Nebraska, but beef and pork stay anonymous. Maybe those will be filled in down the pike.

For now, notable dishes include P.E.I. mussels in a creamy-sweet sambuca broth ($12), really a meal if you tack on an order of those fries ($6). Another side I became overly fixated on was a bowl of maple-glazed Brussels sprouts and fingerlings studded through with meaty planks of house-cured bacon ($7). My next visit I might plow through those again alongside the why-didn't-I-think-of-that banh mi pizza ($12), topped with gingery pulled pork, pickled veggies, a flurry of herbs and a soy glaze.

Blistered shishitos ($8) weren't very blistery and were a little overly sauced with pepper coulis, thus less sophisticated than the same dish at the Tampa location, and one night's tuna tartare ($11) brought a disk of gluey diced fish and crackers that were too highly seasoned such that they swamped the tuna's delicate flavor. But these were the only bobbles in two dinner's worth of sampling.

Salads, fueled by Farmer Dave Smiles' super-fresh greens, are especially successful at Boca (head for the Salad No. 9, $10, if you like beets and blue cheese) and the sweet potato gnocchi ($8, $19) with cubes of butternut squash and florets of broccolini has emerged as something locals can't seem to eat enough of. Boca, after all, means mouth, and so far Brandon and Riverview diners seem eager to put their money there.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

     
   
Comments
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Published: 04/19/18
Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

TERRA GAUCHATerra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, a classic churrascaria-style Brazilian meatery — you know, where the guys in South American cowboy attire walk around with the swords of meat until you capitulate in a carnivorous haze — has opened a loc...
Published: 04/18/18
Food events this weekend: Blueberry Festival, Whiskey Obsession, Taste of Carrollwood and more

Food events this weekend: Blueberry Festival, Whiskey Obsession, Taste of Carrollwood and more

WORTH THE DRIVE: Ocala Culinary FestivalThe Ocala Culinary Festival runs through Sunday with dozens of food and educational events throughout Ocala and Marion County. The list is impressive, tickets for events priced individually. Here is a sampler: ...
Published: 04/12/18
Tampa restaurant Steelbach’s Florida-raised beef program could be a model for true farm-to-table dining

Tampa restaurant Steelbach’s Florida-raised beef program could be a model for true farm-to-table dining

TAMPATrust me, this will be a restaurant review. In a couple of minutes. First, we need to dive into something the new Steelbach at Armature Works is doing that is ground-breaking, disruptive, way-outside-the-box. It’s so forward-thinking that Commis...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/12/18
10 questions with Molly Schuyler, the competitive eater who won $2,500 for eating a big Taco Bus burrito

10 questions with Molly Schuyler, the competitive eater who won $2,500 for eating a big Taco Bus burrito

When it comes to competitive eating, Molly Schuyler is one of the best in the world. Last weekend she dominated her competition at Tampa’s Taco Bus Burrito Eating Championship by taking down a 2.5-pound "El Jefe" in just over a minute to win $...
Published: 04/10/18
Caddy’s At the Pointe apologizes for putting diner’s race on their receipt

Caddy’s At the Pointe apologizes for putting diner’s race on their receipt

A Bradenton restaurant has publicly apologized for a server who described a table by including the diners’ race. A photograph of a Caddy’s At the Pointe receipt posted to Facebook shows the table was entered into the restaurant’s p...
Published: 04/09/18
Updated: 04/10/18
Maple Street Biscuits now open, bringing much-needed biscuits to St. Pete

Maple Street Biscuits now open, bringing much-needed biscuits to St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — I was prepared. I’d been to the Maple Street Biscuit location in Tallahassee in our circuitous escape from Hurricane Irma. The woman behind the counter was going to ask me my favorite childhood television show so it could...
Updated one month ago
This weekend’s food festivals: Celebrate wine, craft soda, shrimp and crawfish

This weekend’s food festivals: Celebrate wine, craft soda, shrimp and crawfish

CHEERS: TO DALÍRaise a glass or two to welcome spring as the Dalí hosts its seventh annual signature wine and food tasting, Los Vinos de Dalí, on Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Both Old World and New World wines are paired with tapas tastings from area restaur...
Updated one month ago
Florida chef Jeanie Roland talks competing on ‘Iron Chef Gauntlet’ and the time she beat Bobby Flay

Florida chef Jeanie Roland talks competing on ‘Iron Chef Gauntlet’ and the time she beat Bobby Flay

In August 2015, Punta Gorda chef Jeanie Roland beat world-famous Bobby Flay with her signature moules-frites (that’s mussels and fries). Let’s say Flay got filleted by a petite, now 51-year-old chef in a fairly sleepy waterside Florida town not known...
Updated one month ago
Free Little Caesars for lunch today for all of America, thanks to UMBC’s NCAA upset

Free Little Caesars for lunch today for all of America, thanks to UMBC’s NCAA upset

TAMPA — Who doesn’t love free food? Who doesn’t love pizza? Well, thanks to Little Caesars and some March Madness, everybody in the country can get free pizza today. Before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament started, Little...
Updated one month ago