Downtown Boca has a plethora of International cuisines from American, Italian & French to Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian – and now Swiss can be added to the mix. After 19 long months of arduous renovations, the spot formerly known as Ovenella (Federal & 5th) finally completed their transformation into a beautiful Swiss Chalet and opened to the public on Tuesday Oct 20th. I was amongst several local food bloggers to attend a special media dinner at The Little Chalet, organized by the restaurant’s PR Agency, the Gab Group.
The evening began with introducing the restaurant’s management team and giving us some background info on the company and its long standing origins from Brazil. We found out that we were sitting in their flagship US location, right here in Boca Raton.
The Little Chalet was born from a spark of love and passion and this love and passion is reflected in every detail you will find on your visit there. From delectable European style dishes and innovative fondues to impeccable service and a warm friendly staff. The Little Chalet has a truly unique dining experience to share.
First opened in Brazil in 1979 by Antonio Agusto Marcellini, “Chalezinho” began as a quaint & charming boutique shop before turning quickly into the exceptional Prime Steak & Fondue Haus it has become today. Passed down from father to sons, the Little Chalet’s family has grown with new additions, while today each sharing the family’s same values and heartfelt approach as Antonio once did.
The Little Chalet believes in striving for perfection in everything they do. They offer a well – rounded menu of classical American steakhouse items along with the European – inspired entrées. Widely known for their gourmet fondues, the Little Chalet offers a variety of mouthwatering options allowing guests to savor the diverse flavors of Europe. Fondues are available as appetizers or as full meals and come with accompaniment options like filet mignon, chicken, pork, white truffle Noisette potatoes & vegetables. Cheese fondues are made with cheeses such a Emmental, Grand Cru, Parmesan and Blue, while wine fondues are made with a red wine and a homemade beef broth, creating a bourguignon – style sauce. You can satisfy your sugar cravings with a number of sinfully decadent Lindt chocolate creations.
Before I begin to share with you my dining experience, let me first begin by sharing with you my first impression of the place. The ambience is just transforming. You certainly will feel that you have left South Florida upon entering this beautiful chalet. You could easily feel you were sitting in an actual Swiss chalet or a quaint cabin in the mountains somewhere up north. The Little Chalet is a charmingly cozy environment with homey and whimsical decor details adorning every nook and cranny. Amidst the dimly lit red walls, cobblestone floors and fireplace, decorations such as birdcages, flowerpots, mini snowy cottages and bird figurines adorn the interior.
The Little Chalet prides itself on creating an unsurpassed welcoming environment, offering guests an exceptionally warm, intimate and cozy dining experience. Heartfelt hospitality and service with a loving touch turns guests into true family. This value, preserved over years of memorable special dinners began long ago and remains at the core of the Little Chalet’s passionate journey. I sensed that the moment I entered the doors and was welcomed very warmly by two cheerful young ladies.
The Little Chalet offers indoor and glass – enclosed terrace dining, along with indoor and outdoor bars, making for a total of 161 available seats. There are a variety of charming intimate alcoves found throughout the place where guests can choose which one to dine in, each with their own special unique design details.
Our multi course tasting on this evening began with three delicious appetizers: Black Truffle Burrata, Original Swiss Raclette and a Blue Cheese Wedge Salad. Let me elaborate on each of these. The Black Truffle Burrata was absolutely delicious. Not just a hint of truffle oil but shavings of actual black truffles permeated throughout this ball of creamy deliciousness. For me, it was love at first bite! If you’ve never tried burrata before, this is the place you will want to come for your first; if you are a regular burrata Connessiour like moi, than this is the one to set all standards to.
The Original Swiss Raclette consisted of potatoes, pearl onions, cornichons & sausage covered with a blanket of bubbling golden brown Raclette cheese. The word “raclette” comes from the French word “to scrape.” Raclette makes up a simple meal that was enjoyed by shepherds in the fields. They would boil up some potatoes, and heat a stone and melt a bit of the raclette cheese on the hot stone. Once melted, the cheese was scraped off and served on top of the potatoes. Nowadays, raclette is cooked in special raclette pans instead of on hot rocks.
The Blue cheese wedge salad was chock full of fresh Blue cheese crumbles, bacon, crispy onion strings & topped with a generous pouring of creamy Blue cheese dressing.
Our next course was a cheese fondue with four different cheeses: Creme de la Creme, Quattro Formaggi, Swiss Alps Original & Wild Mushrooms. For our dipping accompaniments: cubes of French bread and walnut & cranraisin bread, veggies & sausage. Of course all of the cheeses were velvety creamy and delicious but I think my favorite happened to be the Wild Mushroom one. I loved the cranraisin & walnut bread too.
For our entrées, we were treated to The Royal Chalet (their house combination of USDA prime filet mignon, pork tenderloin and seasoned chicken breast). This entree comes with a delicious basket of freshly made garlic bread and eight of their famous house made from scratch sauces: mushroom, mustard, spicy pineapple, garlic, blue cheese, au poivre chimichurri and horseradish cream. The fondue entrées are braised in their signature red wine consommé which creates an unparalleled and unique flavor.
The Chalet Swiss Filet is a prime fillet mignon filled with prosciutto and Catupiry cheese, beef bechamel and accompanied by potato roesti. The almond crusted Seabass was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Served with honey – glazed apple and Blue cheese au gratin potatoes.
The Honey glazed salmon is a fresh wild salmon served with a sweet honey glaze over a bed of roasted fennel. The salmon was seasoned & cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. In addition to the potato roesti, our other accompaniments were white truffle cream spinach and fennel infused cream corn. Anything with truffle in it is a winner in my book, so there’s no surprise that I enjoyed the spinach. The corn was unique. I could have sworn the herb I detected in this dish was rosemary & it wasn’t until the writing of this post and in reviewing the menu, did I discover it was fennel. Well, I’ll be…There also was a distinct flavor of bacon in there as well, which I happened to like, but it may be a bit too much for some people’s tastes.
For dessert we were treated to four different types of chocolate fondues with some wonderful accompaniments. The chocolates were as follows: Lindt Milk Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Chocolate S’mores, & Lindt White Chocolate with Almonds. The S’mores had the potential of being my favorite because I just love everything about S’mores but unfortunately there was a slight technical error on execution of this fondue on this evening. It came to the table slightly below the optimal temperature and never did quite catch up to the others. But that didn’t stop those around me, myself included, from dipping in.
Another big hit with the crowd was the Dolce de Leche. I found the brownie bites dunked in this one to be irresistible. The Little Chalet is the perfect place for couples on a romantic date, a bunch of friends getting together or for special family occasions.
The Little Chalet is located at 485 S. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. They are open Monday through Saturday from 5:30 PM to 11 PM and offer happy hour Monday through Friday from 530 to 7 PM. for more information visit them on the web at www.thelittlechalet.com or call 561-325-8000.
Back in December, my friend Shaina and I reviewed DaVinci’s shortly after they opened. (Click here to read that review.) Well, today I am pleased to share with you my latest review after being invited back to try some brand new items to commemorate their newly revamped menu executed by new Executive Chef, Ardany Rivas. Chef Rivas may be DaVinci’s new Executive Chef, but he is no stranger to the Carvelli Family. He has been working in the family owned restaurants since he joined them in 2005 working in Naples, FL and Wisconsin Dells, WI before coming to Boca to head up the kitchen.
“Ardany has worked with our family for more than ten years now, providing insight and inspiration for this location, as well as our other venues, so it made sense to move him into this role,” said Luigi Carvelli, who launched the restaurant with his family in September 2014. “Ardany shares the Carvelli family’s passion for delivering authentic Italian dishes that are prepared with the best, freshest, ingredients possible. We are thrilled to have him managing the DaVinci’s of Boca kitchen full-time.”
Shortly after we sat down, GM Francesco came to our table and asked us about our wine preferences. Luckily we were able to agree on a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino, a wonderful baby Barolo.
First thing to arrive on our table was their yummy warm bread basket and trio of dipping sauces that I fell in love with the first time around. (The Mascarpone with lemon zest & thyme is my personal favorite). Thank goodness this is one thing that they did not change when they created a new menu, I am pleased to announce.
Francesco informed us that Chef would be preparing a special tasting menu for us highlighting some of the new menu additions. Shaina and I especially love when Chefs do this for us. When Shaina and I dine together, we are kind of like a “Surf and Turf” duo; Shaina only eats seafood and I prefer meat, lol. Fortunately, we both really enjoy vegetarian type dishes. Speaking of which, our first course was a Vegetable Terrine appetizer which consisted of layers of eggplant, roasted red peppers, zucchini, portobello mushroom, goat cheese, arugula and topped with a balsamic glaze drizzle. I really liked this dish. It was a cold dish which didn’t surprise me as much as it seemed to have surprised Shaina. But I do agree with her assessment that it could have just as easily been served and enjoyed warm as well. To read Shaina’s review, click here.
The next dish to arrive was the charred octopus. For those of you who follow my posts, you know that Shaina and I are both huge fans of octopus. Last year when we were first introduced to DaVinci’s we tried their Polipo Grigliato al Salmoriglio, aka Octopus. It was a chilled version and although it was quite tasty, both Shaina and I agreed hands down that this new version was much more to our liking. It was served atop arugula with a lemon dressing, potato confit, drizzled with a pepperoncini aioli and served with a side of the most fantastic squid ink/white bean puree.
The Kale & Beet Salad was next. This colorful salad was visually very appealing and consisted of golden and red beets, pecans, pistachio-crusted goat cheese, kale tossed with a basil citrette dressing, topped with pickled onions and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. The salad was well composed and we both enjoyed it very much.
The next dish that came out was the homemade spinach gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce garnished with strawberries. At first I was like, strawberries? But after trying it, I can definitely see that the sweetness from the fresh berries cuts some of the richness of the Gorgonzola and it works… very well, in fact. This was definitely one of my favorites of the night and I’d have to say that these gnocchi were my absolute favorite that I have ever been served (sorry mom).
When it came time to ordering our entrees, I selected the Veal Porcini, one of the new menu items, while Shaina ordered the seafood special of the night, Shrimp-stuffed Branzino. Both dishes were accompanied by scalloped potatoes in a lemon sauce, asparagus and baby carrots. The veal was cooked with a porcini Marsala wine and cream sauce. I enjoyed this dish, although it was just a tad over salted for my preference. Shaina loved her Branzino, which was presented in quite a unique manner in that it was filleted and stuffed rather than served whole. Pretty, isn’t it?!?
We skipped on dessert this time, since A) we were pretty stuffed and B) there weren’t any new desserts on the revamped menu. We had tried the Salted Caramel Tiramisu and the Lemon Meringue Mascarpone the last time and they were both delicious. Anything that has the words “Salted Caramel” is a must have in my book. So I encourage you all to make your way over to DaVinci’s and try some of these delicious items I’ve described for you here or anything else that catches your eye on the menu. I promise you one thing, you won’t be disappointed. Exceptional food, service and ambiance.
DaVinci’s offers Happy Hour 7 days a week from 11am – 6pm at the bar and patio only, as well as a late night Happy Hour from 9pm – close. They also have live entertainment and an indoor private dining room which can accommodate groups up to 40 guests and an outside patio/lounge area which can accommodate much larger groups. They are located at 6000 Glades Rd. (next to Nordstrom at the Town Center Mall). 561-362-8466. For more info, visit their website.