Bocanova: Reviews

Bocanova: Reviews | restaurant info + video | full episode video

Allison Tom
Name: Allison
Occupation: Television Producer
Location: Emeryville
Favorite Restaurant: Bocanova
Reviewed Bocanova: Friday, February 22, 2013

Bocanova is hands down one of the best restaurants in the East Bay! It opened in 2009, replacing the Old Spaghetti Factory. It’s an architectural delight with reclaimed wood, decoratively painted accent walls, a few pieces of artwork or photography, wood tables, concrete pillars and glass pendant lighting. The ambiance is fun, energetic, lively yet great for small or big groups and also ideal just for two. The seating options include a spacious outdoor area on the patio with a scenic view of the Jack London Square Waterfront; the inside has an open, contemporary and cozy loft style dining room, combining old and new. There are great seats at the stained glass panel bar as well, with some of the most comfortable blue leather square stools where you can sit and enjoy a drink and/or food for hours with friendly and entertaining bartenders mixing unique cocktails and more! From my experience, the service has always been stellar with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. The food at Bocanova is consistently outstanding. The restaurant calls it Pan-American Grill where they have a wide range of cuisines from North, Central and South America.

The menu has a fabulous blend of Latin American ingredients and many items are not ones you would find elsewhere. What I like a lot about the food here is that you can order just a few dishes or order a dish or two from each of the different categories such as the oven, stove, grill, rotisserie, la plancha, etc. and they will all complement one another. The flavors blend really well together and there is a good variety of dishes to choose from. We started with the Dungeness crab deviled eggs with chipotle aioli; probably some of the best deviled eggs around. From the garden section of the menu, we enjoyed the quinoa salad with grapes, pomegranate, persimmon (so delicious) and duck confit; a good portion to share with others at the table. Other favorite dishes include the cauliflower: deep fried with piquillo pepper and toasted garlic romesco sauce. The “Huarache” is served sizzling hot and is so flavorful with pancetta, Fuji apples, caramelized shallots, rosemary oil and Oaxaca cheese. The sweet potato and chipotle gratin is one not to miss, and goes great with any of the other dishes. The sea scallops with a Brazilian curry sauce and a few veggies, served julienne style on top, are delicious — worth every single bite. The crispy lamb shoulder with cannellini beans has just the right seasonings and served tender. The grilled octopus has a nice blend of chili flakes, lemon and cherry tomatoes. The wine list pairs nicely with all the dishes and there’s a great selection to choose from. For dessert, the one that stands out by far is the warm chocolate croissant bread pudding with Mexican chocolate ice cream!


Eric Markson
Name: Eric
Occupation: Hotel Sales Manager
Location: Santa Rosa
Favorite Restaurant: Willi’s Wine Bar
Reviewed Bocanova: Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bocanova is a large space that’s warm and inviting: open kitchen, cool bar, high ceilings and big windows, nice energy, lots of locals not too touristy. There is a wide mix of customers from families to seniors. A great outdoor patio with water views for watching sailboats sailing by or sunsets and great people-watching. We went for Sunday brunch. The place was busy, but not packed — looked busier than the other restaurants in the area. There was a farmer’s market going on that Sundays at Jack London Square just steps from the restaurant. Parking was no problem: garage or meters (free on Sundays). We were greeted with a pleasant reception and the service was quick, but not hurried. Our server Laura was very good, lots of staff. The water carafe was brought right away and refills came quickly. It was a nice touch. The excellent Bloody Mary was not too fancy or over the top. The nice and spicy Dungeness Crab and Deviled Eggs were very tasty but they could use more crab. “Huarache:” Pancetta, Fuji Apples, Caramelized Shallots, Rosemary oil, Oaxaca Cheese is more of a breakfast pizza with a little Latin influence. Loaded with Pancetta, the caramelized shallots took the dish to the next level. Wow! I enjoyed the Cuban Pressed Sandwich with Black Forest ham, as well as the pork loin with homemade pickles. I’m very picky when it comes to a good Cuban sandwich; I’ve been to Miami. Perfectly toasted/grilled stuffed with high quality ham, roasted pork loin and homemade pickles. The chipotle aioli was a spicy surprise and I liked it. I like it a lot. Arugula, with a light lemon vinaigrette and more homemade pickles balance out the dish nicely. Beautiful Location, cool atmosphere with high quality ingredients served with imaginative Latin flair. Bocanova hit all the right notes!!! Will return, will recommend!


Herman Chan
Name: Herman
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Location: Berkeley
Favorite Restaurant: The Rotunda of Neiman Marcus
Reviewed Bocanova: Friday, February 15, 2013


I loved the vibe and location of Bocanova. It’s like you are having dinner in a massive loft: the tall windows, huge columns, high ceilings, facing the Estuary. My BFF and I called to say we were running a tad late, and they were super accommodating with us (we made reservations via opentable.com). From the moment we walked in, all staff members were friendly and eager to assist. We were tempted to dine outside on their massive lanai, but we opted to sit inside by a window, so we could get the best of both worlds. The waiter was knowledgeable, had a sense of humor and checked in on us periodically to make sure we were happy as clams. The food arrived promptly and evenly throughout the meal. When we arrived at 6:15pm, the noise level was just about right. We could converse easily. But by the end of the meal, the restaurant was in full swing so it got a bit louder, which is to be expected in such a lofty airy busy establishment. As for the food, it wasn’t bad. It was definitely enhanced by the fabulous ambiance and service. Don’t get me wrong — the food was delish but this is not the kind of place I would come out to eat by myself for the food. It is the kind of place I would go to in order to socialize/entertain.

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