For those of you who have been around Boca Raton for the past 10 years, you might say that there has been quite the revolving door when it comes to the dining scene. Take the south west corner of Federal Highway & SE Mizner Blvd. in Downtown Boca for instance. How many of you remember Oceans 11, Saba Sushi, Ovenella and the short-lived The Little Chalet? Who remembers anything before? Let me know by commenting at the bottom of the post. I took you back as far as I could recall, since first coming to the area and immersing myself into the food scene here in Boca.
The Little Chalet was a beautiful special-occasion venue that is wildly popular in Brazil, but for whatever reason, just didn’t catch on here in the company’s first US location. It’s a shame; they spent a small fortune I’m sure creating a lovely romantic ambiance. But, beautiful decor alone doesn’t pay the bills so the owners decided early on to cut their loss and close and re-open with an entirely new hip & trendy concept.
Created by Ricky Marcellini, owner of The Little Chalet who explained that after noting a change in the area’s demographics, they saw an opportunity to introduce South Floridians to a breezy, Brazilian nightlife-inspired restaurant and lounge for everyday dining. To facilitate a more communal and casual quality guest experience, he opened the space to an airier interior, expanding seating and adding a second bar to the outdoor patio.
“We have watched East Boca grow and change over the years, and we wanted to evolve our restaurant to match the tastes and lifestyles in the area, which is why we closed our doors as The Little Chalet and have reopened as The Locale,” explains Ricky. “Our culinary team is as skilled as ever, and we are excited to offer a more robust and unique beverage program to complement the quality dishes that come out of our kitchen.”
The hip and trendy The Locale Cocina & Bar presents guests with a Latin-inspired menu (South American influences including Brazil & Equador) and I would say Italian as well and is fast becoming the gathering spot in Downtown Boca for local friends and business associates. I’m sure it also helps to offer Happy Hour every day from 4 – 7pm and again from 9pm til closing. What’s more, is that guests can enjoy happy hour anywhere in the restaurant, not just the bar Sun – Thur (and at the bar only on Fri & Sat nights). There’s a reduced price food menu and all drinks are 1/2 off.
I was invited by The Locale’s PR firm to attend a media dine. They hosted a lovely event which several of my blogger friends attended, however, I was unable to attend at the time due to a lingering cold. I was thrilled to be invited back to experience the restaurant once I was well. On this dine, we started out a couple of their popular cocktails; I chose the Lychee Martini and my husband chose the Caipirinha, Brazil’s National cocktail. Lychees are my newest exotic fruit obsession, by the way.
The Locale’s Chef Joshua Miranda and team take pride in creatively melding exotic flavors with familiar applications in order to deploy flavorful creations to be shared. Locale’s Manager Carlos took the liberty of sending out a variety of dishes for us to try: a trio of appetizers consisting of pork & beef meatballs, mushroom crostini (called tostada on the menu) and tuna tartare were presented first. They were all delicious, but the star for me was the tuna tartare. The su vide preparation of the egg yolk was something that a true die hard foodie like myself would appreciate.
Carlos next sent out the Locale pizza which had fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula and shaved Parmesan. Tip: took home leftovers and heated the pizza up and cracked a fresh egg on top to make a delicious breakfast pizza!
The Picarina steak had a beautiful sear on it and was seasoned and cooked perfectly and served with yuca fries.
There was a generous portion of shrimp in the Fettucini Alfredo dish. Also made a nice shrimp scampi crostini the next day with these leftovers!
The Locale boasts Boca’s only Mixology Bar. (I see a Savor Our City Mixology Class taking place there in the future)– The Locale provides libation seekers with two bars and ample seating. Inside, chocolate bitters, candied ginger and acai liqueur are at the ready behind the bar, shaken up into one-of-a-kind drinks that are as eye-catching as they are delicious. Moscow Mule drinkers can choose from four iterations of the copper-mugged classic, including a daily rotating option, in addition to cocktails like the Brazilian Rum Runner Fig Old Fashioned, Lychee Martini and Jalapeño Aquafaba. At the newly-expanded patio, The Locale’s outdoor bar is happy to shake up something on the more traditional side in addition to pouring South Florida’s coldest brew at an impressive 28°F from their special imported below-freezing brewery tap. With over 35 beers from 6 countries, the perfect sip is always within reach.
Other signature dishes on the menu that look really interesting which I will have to go back for are: Beef Empanada with shredded short ribs and tomato jam; Croqueta fried dough filled with ham and cheese; and Shrimp Ajillo garlic shrimp served with white rice and broccoli bring a taste of South America to the table. Vegetarians and carnivores alike will swoon over The Locale’s meat-free Portobello Burgerwith tamarind glaze, manchego, crispy kale, aioli on a brioche bun; and flavorful signature entrées abound, with highlights including Short Ribover manchego polenta; Faroe Island Salmonwith wild rice, asparagus, yogurt crema; and Bucatiniwith yellow chili sauce, onions and tomatoes and choice of sautéed filet or chicken.
The Locale’s Happy Hour is served every day from 4-7p.m. and 9p.m.-close, where guests can enjoy even more brews, beats and bespoke cocktails from anywhere in the restaurant.
The Locale is located at 499 S Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33432, They are open for dinner Sun. – Thurs. 4 – 11p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 4p.m. – 1 a.m. and brunch on Sundays fro 10:30am – 2pm. For more information or to make a reservation, call (561) 325-8000 or visit www.localeboca.com.
I was recently invited to dine at the new Ouzo Bay, which opened up their second location just under four months ago in Mizner Park (Downtown Boca) in the former Jazziz spot. The 325-seat restaurant reflects the core concept of Ouzo Bay’s flagship location in Baltimore, Maryland, which opened in 2013 to rave reviews, and has been named the #1 restaurant in the city by Baltimore Magazine, which offers contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with a strong Greek influence.
Ouzo Bay’s interior was designed to reflect the Greek influences in a modern way. The signature blue accent lighting throughout the restaurant helps to create an upscale, yet relaxed atmosphere. Comfortably seating roughly 225 inside and 100 on the outside patio, there are also separate lounge sections inside and outside, as well as a 30-seat private cigar lounge attached to the restaurant. “With Ouzo Bay Boca Raton, we will continue to bring our customers the finest quality ingredients from the Mediterranean, matched by our chic bar atmosphere,” says Alexander Smith of the Atlas Group Restaurant, owners of Ouzo Bay. “We feel that Mizner Park and Boca Raton will be a perfect fit for our fish flown in fresh daily from around the world complemented with handmade cocktails and an enormous wine and spirits list.”
Highlighted by a variety of Whole Fish flown in daily from around the world, the menu includes only the freshest and finest-quality ingredients. Complimenting the seafood menu, Ouzo Bay also has an extensive selection of fine-quality cuts of grass fed lamb, prime beef and organic chicken. In addition to the impressive culinary lineup, Ouzo Bay’s posh full-service bar is overseen by Bradford White, the restaurant’s resident Sommelier/Beverage Manager and features handcrafted cocktails, small-batch whiskeys and a wine list that is emphasized by Greek wines. Ouzo Bay’s name is a nod to one of the East Coast’s largest selections of traditional Greek ouzo and the complimentary shot that is given to each diner at the end of their meal.
L to R: Baked Feta, Greek Salad, Grilled Octopus
The Feta Sto Fourno (Baked Feta) was a unique and tasty dish. The Feta was baked (obviously) which in and of itself was an entirely new presentation to me. It kind of resembled a Greek version of an Italian Caprese. The perfectly browned feta sat on top of a beefsteak tomato and a delicious eggplant purée & balsamic reduction.
The Horiatiki (Traditional Greek Salad) was light and crisp and did not disappoint; Beefsteak Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Onions, Feta, Olives, Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Red Wine Vinegar.
My eyes always light up when I see Xtapodi Sharas (Octopus) on the menu. I am cautiously optimistic. It’s easy to over cook this delicacy and unfortunately, I have had my share of over charred/over cooked octopus that tasted more like chewy rubber. I was so hoping that this would not be the case here. To my big fat happy chagrin, it was not. This charcoal-grilled octopus was cooked to sweet and tender perfection and tossed with Sweet Onions & Red Peppers in a Red Wine Caper Vinaigrette.
Our overall experience at Ouzo Bay was a 10, in food, service and decor. Ouzo Bay is a welcome addition to the culinary scene at Mizner Park and in South Florida in general. Very excited to have them here and can’t wait to come back and try some more items.
Ouzo Bay is open for:
LUNCH Monday-Saturday 11a–3p
HAPPY HOUR Sunday-Friday 3p–7p
DINNER Sunday-Wednesday 4p-10p (Bar until 12a) Thursday-Saturday 4p-12a (Bar until 2a)
BRUNCH Sunday 10a-3p
They are located on the South end of Mizner Park at 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, Florida 33432 561.757.0082. Check out their online menu and other info here.
I had the opportunity to attend a blogger event at Saquella recently to be introduced to some new items that are being added to their menu so I can share them with you.
As many of you know, I spend a lot of time in the Downtown Boca area, particularly in Royal Palm Place and Mizner Park where I conduct my culinary tours. Saquella, located in Royal Palm Place, is the go-to-place for friends to gather for coffee and breakfast and a leader in the culinary scene here in Boca since they opened their doors back in 2005. They are recognized as a leader because of their philosophy which has been from the start and continues to be that they are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve.
When Saquella first opened, the concentration was on their superior blends of coffee, innovative drinks and highly skilled baristas. They prided themselves on this and created the tagline, “Your First Cup of Coffee & Much More…” 12 years later, they have evolved into a full service breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner restaurant. While still providing the same quality drinks that they became known for, they are getting the word out that they are so much more. While Saquella has always been farm to table long before that name became in vogue, they developed a new tagline to better reflect the Cafe’s evolution and current offerings, “Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop…”
Saquella has always drawn an International clientele and has become a landmark at the plaza, along with its neighbor across from them, Biergarten Boca. There’s a good chance if you live in Boca or travel to this area that you’ve been to Saquella, but what you many not know is that they are open for dinner and they have a full liquor license. Yep, you heard (well, technically read, correct). Myself and my fellow food bloggers were treated to several dishes prepared by Saquella’s Executive Chef Dave Fogel.
To get the night started off, we were each served a Cran Martini. It felt like we were celebrating Thanksgiving for a moment. What a lovely hue of red and what a novel idea of serving fresh cranberries in a cocktail in the Spring. I loved the tartness that the fresh cranberries provided. This martini drank like a Cosmo. I would highly recommend it.
The above dishes were not only gorgeous to look at and photograph, but each and every one of them was incredibly flavorful. I enjoyed them all. They all make for great sharing plates. The Shakshuka had melted mozzarella, which is something owner Avi had decided to add and boy are we glad he did. This addition took an already pretty awesome dish and elevated it to the next level Yum!
Again, aren’t these plates just gorgeous? The Sunflower seed crusted chicken was cooked to perfection and topped with an Ammoglio, an Italian version of salsa which was drizzled with a garlic confit. The Quinoa Crusted was delicious as was the beet purée found underneath. The short ribs had been cooked for 6 hours which imparted an amazing flavor and were fork tender. The asparagus asiago risotto was cooked to perfection and wonderful!
Peach Cobbler French Toast made with Challah bread with peaches baked into the bread
Saquella is open 7 days a week, Mon – Sat 7am – 10pm & Sun 10am – 4pm.
They are located in Royal Palm Place, 410 Via De Palmas, Boca Raton. You can visit their website or call (561) 338-8840.
Twenty Twenty Grille, located in Royal Palm Place in the heart of downtown Boca Raton, FL, has a menu that goes far beyond contemporary American cuisine. It represents a Culinary Fusion of International classics and modern food art.
World-Famous, Internationally Acclaimed Chef Ron Weisheit uses Organic Farm-raised produce, line-caught seafood, South Florida seasonal produce and sustainable grass fed meats to artfully transform his dishes into delicious masterpieces of modern day art cuisine.
Chef Ron has been in the culinary field for over 25 years. He was a top graduate of San Francisco Culinary Academy and was awarded 3 gold medals at te Culinary Olympics in Germany. He has recently been nominated for a James Beard award.
Rhonda Weisheit, Ron’s wife and business partner graduated at the top of her class in Portland at the Maine Culinary School and was the Executive pastry chef for a number of years. Together, they’ve developed menu items that span from international classics to more extraordinary and adventurous.
The unique concept of Twenty Twenty Grille is that this dynamic duo are not only satisfying their guests with Food Art, but also educating them on the origins of their dishes and how they were inspired. It is an exceptional blend of tasting and learning experience.
“It has always been a dream to open our own fine dining restaurant in South Florida and share our passion for healthy and creative cuisine”, says Rhonda. Both Ron and Rhonda are talented and creative chefs and very passionate about what they do. Every dish they offer has its own unique melody and together it creates a marvelous symphony of taste.
Before fulfilling their dream of opening up a fine dining establishment here in sunny South Florida, Ron and Rhonda also owned and operated Pralines Bakeshop and Catering for 8 years in downtown Newburyport, MA. It was awarded the Best of Boston Award and was also featured in the Food Network’s program “Cupcake Wars”.
Ron and Rhonda are known throughout the community for having amazing customer service as well as preparing all of the menu items from scratch. To dine at Twenty Twenty Grille is to experience sheer excellence in culinary art and hospitality. Guests are invited to enjoy the finest and most unique modern cuisine under the romantic stars at this boutique garden restaurant.
Twenty Twenty Grille is also a stop on Savor Our City’s tours from time to time and we couldn’t be happier to introduce our guests to this wonderful little gem. I recently stopped in for a bite to eat after attending a fundraising event which was taking place nearby in the plaza. I must preface that this is the type of place to come enjoy a leisurely meal. It is an experience and if you are in a rush, you might want to think about coming another time to really appreciate it to its fullest.
My evening began with an Amuse Busche of sticky Asian pork belly with elephant garlic. This little bite is supposed to whet your appetite and leave you wanting more and that is exactly what it did! My server Thomas recommended a glass of their Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc ($11) from New Zealand for the pairing, which was spot on.
Next up was the micro greens salad ($14) which comprised of six different microgreens from a local farm in Boynton Beach, along with fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes and a house made sesame lime vinaigrette.
Twenty Twenty Grille is famous for their unique made in house butters which change nightly. On this particular evening, I was presented a chocolate dipped cherry butter served with fresh warm bread.
I had been craving foie gras and when I saw it on the menu, I just had to splurge. A beautiful plate of pan-roasted foie gras wrapped in prosciutto was set atop Fuji apples and nestled between lemon basil and Concord grape sauces; the pairing for this course was an Antigua CA muscat dessert wine ($25). Divine. Truly an exceptional dish. The combination of flavors dance on your taste buds. The saltiness of the prosciutto plays nicely with the richness of the foie gras and the sauces and the sweetness of the wine tied it all together. The portions are not meant to be large, so you will want to savor each bite.
Intermezzo – Chef Ron likes to invite his patrons to try and guess what ingredients are used in his nightly palate cleansing sorbet. On this particular night, I was both pleased and disappointed that I only got one of the four ingredients right. I guessed: ginger, green tea, garlic and turmeric. The actual ingredients were: kale, pear, turmeric and star fruit. Well, it was great tasting and fun to test my palate. Maybe I’ll get more on my next visit.
Under the “others” section, I decided to try the Rosemary Gnocchi – there were nine of them in the dish for $8. This could have been featured as a main dish. They were so delicious; I am pretty sure these are the best tasting gnocchi I have ever had! (And I have had some pretty good ones in my day)…
The sweet ending: I decided to try the guava skicky pudding cake ($10) which came with a Grand Marnier caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream and berries. It was a perfectly balanced dish in taste and textures and a great way to end the tasting.
In case you were wondering about the meaning of the name of the restaurant…Twenty Twenty represents the number of seats at the restaurant; 20 inside and 20 outside.
Twenty Twenty Grille is open every evening from 5 – 10pm. Reservations are suggested.
We had 17 people attend our inaugural “Savor Downtown Boca” tour, the first in a series of three taking place the third Wednesday of the month through January. Check out what Shaina Wizov from Take A Bite Out Of Boca had to say about the Nov 19th tour.
The next tour is coming up on Wed, Dec. 17th and takes place from 5:30 – 9pm and will make stops at La Stella’s, Spadini’s, Boca Skewers, Souvlaki Fast, Jazziz and Le Macaron. As a nod to the Jewish Holiday (it will be the second night of Hanukkah), a special latke tasting will be provided at Jazziz, one traditional and one eclectic one will be presented by Jazziz’ Chef.
The final tour in the series will take place on Wed, Jan 21st, also from 5:30 – 9:00pm, this time heading back to Royal Palm Place to pick up a few of the restaurants we weren’t able to get on the first tour, such as Estia Greek Taverna, Casimir Bistro, Piattini before strolling down SE 1st Ave for stops at 4th Generation Market, The Olive Tree and True.