I realized we had dined at Boca Bistro the moment we walked into its charming and yet rustic location on Broadway, the Saratoga’s main drag in upstate New York. The walls were brick, the tables weathered wood, a few of which were large enough to share with a group. The bar scene was about as inviting as it gets, with soothing lights, candles and people laughing over scrumptious plates of tapas, red wine and Sangria.
We took over a cozy table near the window up against the wall and filled out table with warm candles to add to the already warm ambiance. I’ve always been a fan of tapas however I find that I also order more than I need because you’re never quite sure how large the portions will be. Larger than many Spanish restaurants I’ve tried in major urban centers around the country, both their hot and cold tapa plates were easy on the eyes and the palette.
Let’s start with a few of our favorites. How about a crispy pork belly with cider bacon jam, savory apple compote, parsnip chips and a butternut squash puree, or Garlic Shrimp, which they sauteed with garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Their Octopus and Beans tapas comes with those delicious butter beans that are always so hard to resist and castelvetrano olives, citrus zest, thyme, arugula and a saffron vinaigrette. YUM!
We started with the Meatballs (above), which are wrapped in bacon and covered with Romesco sauce and Manchego cheese. Another to die for albeit rich dish is their Foie and Scallops, which is a seared Hudson Valley foie gras, with spice seared scallops, pain perdu, pear preserves, sliced pecans and a maple syrup gastrique — most definitely decadent.
For seafood lovers, they have scrumptious Paellas which is cooked with clams, calamari, mussels, shrimp, saffron, bell peppers, peas, cauliflower and paprika. Oh so yum!
On the lighter side, you can opt for one of their mixed salads or if you want to get adventurous, try the foie gras and scallop, with pain perdu, pear preserves, spiced pecans and a maple syrup gastrique, or the pork belly with cider bacon jam, savory apple, compote, butternut squash puree and parsnip chips.
Their goat cheese salad with Bibb lettuce was out of this world — they serve it with toasted pine nuts, shallots, Black Mission fig and bruleed goat cheese with a quince vinaigrette.
The Mussels tapas are worth ordering as well, which they make with Chorizo Bilboat, paprika, curry, tomato broth and a salsa verde – exquisite!
If you have kids in tow, try their french fries — they also do sweet potato fries with thyme and honey, fried potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, sweet potatoes and parsnips, spinach, butter beans, fried eggplant, kale and turnips, all of which are great for the vegetarians among you.
Another great choice for kids is their sweetest dessert – fried dough with sugar and dipping sauce. We got ours to go to wolf down over movies later that night, with hot spiced coffee of course. Also great for finishing your meal or starting it, is their mixed cheese selection. I loved the fact that out of the five choices they offered, 4 were either sheep or goat and only one was cow (Mahon – Menorca). The sheep’s cheese was my favorite and they offered two: Manchego and Idiazabal (Navarra), which has a smoked nutty flavor. Their two goat options included Cabra al Vino (Murcia) and Cana de Cabra (Murcia). Oh so perfect for the evening….
We loved the rustic ambiance which was perfect on a cold winter’s evening. An old world gem that is a must stop on your next visit to Saratoga Springs. Two thumbs up – we would definitely return!!