Novato >Food & Dining > Boca
340 Ignacio Blvd, Novato, CA | Directions 9494938.066069 -122.540494
Neighborhood Gem if there ever was one – Novato isn't particularly known for much else besides being a bedroom community, and its restaurant scene is little more than a few decent spots surrounded by tract homes, stables, and almost illegally bad Chinese food. That being said, I like living in Novato even though I find myself driving 30 minutes or more to find something special for dinner elsewhere.
Hidden from the 101 by a Jack in the Box, the first impression is that this place is too nice for its immediate surroundings (across the street is a salon called Jamaica Me Tan, for example). Nestled between commercial office buildings, Boca's rock wall facade is nicely lit at night and looks as though it would be more appropriately placed somewhere in Yountville or even Sonoma--certainly not Novato. Yet Novato is where chef George Morrone (of Aqua and Fifth Floor fame) set up shop and I'm not going to complain about the 6-minute drive time from work.
Parking can be difficult on weekends, though the aforementioned commercial office buildings share their parking lot with Boca and there are spots to be found. At one junction you have to drive around a water fountain to park. Leave the stretched limo on the street.
Upon entering, you have the choice of going left to the bar (which features a bar menu but also the full dining menu and some of the friendliest bartenders you will ever meet) or straight back to the main dining area. I've dined in almost every room here and each area has its unique features. From cowhide seats to giant bovine portraits on the walls to hanging lamps made out of barrel rings, this place takes a page out of an Argentinean ranch house romance novel, if there ever was such a thing.
One aspect of Boca that I particularly enjoy is their flexibility. That is, the ability to go to dinner and order a mojito, a couple of empenadas, and a 30oz bone-in ribeye Gaucho Steak one night, or a glass of red wine, tuna tartare, and filet mignon on another. Even lunch is a completely different experience with its variety of salads and sandwiches, not to mention one hell of a burger.
Another aspect of Boca is all the cool stuff you get with your meal. Both lunch and dinner come with fresh-baked sourdough rolls, but dinner has the added bonus of house-made spicy pickles served in a small jar and a tiny fork that keeps you from your dinner conversation as you obsess over getting every last pickle slice out of the brine (okay maybe that's just me). Many of the meals come with duck-fat fries. Yes, thinly cut french fries fried in duck fat. They're as good as they sound and as bad for you as you'd expect. I'm a really big fan of their jalapeno creamed corn which is just spicy enough and goes with a number of their dinners, though my favorite combination is with the 8oz filet. The steaks come with four sauces: chimichurri and a red variant (my fav), Beamaise and a really awesome cognac green peppercorn sauce. I end up rotating these around with each bite.
While known for being a steakhouse, Boca also has a nice variety of shellfish (though true to its Argentinean theme, no lobster). Their Bingo Oysters are decent, but their oven-roasted mussels in a pot of white wine and fennel stock are a big step up, and enough that with a salad makes a dinner unto itself. I sometimes get prawn skewers with my steak because, well, I love shrimp with my steak.
Dessert features Dulce de Leche ice cream and an El Diablo chocolate tower, though usually by this course I'm ready to settle in to something a bit more tame like their vanilla bean cheesecake. I defy you to still be hungry for dessert.
I come here at least once a week for lunch and several times a month for dinner, and I never get bored of the menu. I'm still willing to drive a ways to get good food, but Boca is a fantastic local spot that I will always be in the mood for.
GOOD STEAK & EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE! – My boyfriend and I love to do date night out at this restaurant. The combinations of flavors for the dishes they created are delish and my favorite waitress works there too! I am not really a steak eater but my boyfriend is, I would never order my self steak at restaurants I like to stick to chicken, fish & veggies, but when my boyfriend let me try a bite of his kobe steak, he didnt get the plate back! I ONLY order steak dishes now when I go to boca and my waitress Megan always helps steer me in the right direction. She was such a pleasure to have serve us, she puts up with all my food questions since I can be very picky eater some times, I love to come when shes working, such a doll!
Good but not traditional – My husband took me here for my birthday because I'm from Uruguay and always looking for an Argentinean or South American restaurant where ever we live. The food was good but not at all traditional. My husband would of taken a whole jar of thos pickels LOL We will be back, but still hoping that we can find a restaurant that is more traditional . To any one taking the time to read this review.....if you know of a meat market (caniceria) that I can go to and but the right cuts for asado please e-mail me :)
Excellent steaks, empanadas and creative chimichurri – UPDATED
Everything I wrote below is still true except they no longer have Betty's beef empanadas on the menu. For an appetizer I now get Calamari, which they do REALLY deliciously!!! I also discovered they have a great happy hour with many appetizers at half price and Tuesday nights it's wine night so you can get a bottle of wine for half its price along with your dinner. I still LOVE this place!!!
They know how to let a steak be a steak!
I love this place and always order the same thing: Appetizer: Betty's Beef Empanadas, Salad: Caesar, Entree: Skirt Steak Medium Well. They are all deliciously great and the service is very good. I also like that they have great inside and outside ambiences.
Uninspiring food! – When I heard of Boca I was truly excited to see an Argentian steakhouse being built in Novato. From all the stories I've heard about Argentina I knew they were serious about their meat and I was so anxious to try their food. What a dissapointment! I went with high expectations and was let down with your lower than average quality beef. My steak was dry and stringy, not to mention that their empanadas were tough and old, like if it were under a heat lamp for hours. Service was the saving grace of this eatery, but for me to go back they better work on the food.
Love the Filet! – Had a great waiter (jeff?) who walked me through the menu with ease. Everything he recommended was great. From appetizer-wine entree & dessert! I't alittle expensive to dine with my family everyday, but a great spot for date night with my hubby!
Great ambiance - love the pickles! – Despite the great ambiance, the food was not as good as I had expected. Duck fat fries were probably not fried in duck fat. The skirt steak was tender but heavily salted. Deconstructed Caesar salad was bland.
Great Marin Steak! – It's a rare find but this restaurant is worth the trip. Great food for reasonable prices. On Tuesdays, the wine list is 1/2 off.
Finnaly a good resto in Marin !! – The cocktails are very good, the meat is awesome, but the wine list rather expensive. We've been there maybe 12 times and so far I've been disappointed only once, which is not too bad. The service at the bar and the front desk is sometimes snooty, but in the end the food is good and the price w/o wine is decent. The ambience is also really nice and I appreciate the patio in the summer time.
Argentinian steakhouse amps up the sleepy dining scene in Novato. – In Short
Chef George Morrone, formerly of Aqua and Fifth Floor, went ranch-style chic at this venture, which is decked out in warm tones, wood walls and cowhide-backed booths. Wood-grilled steaks take center stage, but a roster of hearty appetizers like empanadas and house-made sausages, along with fish and chicken entrees, round out the offerings. The wine list leans toward Argentinian picks.
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