A couple things that are just me being me ~ is it Cafe or Caffe Boa?? It is shown both ways on the website and the web address is www.CafeBoa.com but on their merchandise it is Caffe Boa. As a writer and editor, that drives me nuts, but I digress.
I went to Caffe Boa on a Tuesday evening and was running a little late due to a lovely traffic jam on the freeway. My friend Erin who is the author of the Food Tramp Diaries was already there and had cozied up to the bar. Happy Hour was in full swing with their half-priced appetizers and wines. I was so looking forward to those half-priced wines! The bartender was attentive and recommended the Riesling/Moscal-Auxerrois, Kogl “M. Domenica Albus” 2007 which was a great dry, very light Riesling with a nice citrus back. We wanted to take full advantage of the Happy Hour prices and asked if we were able to enjoy them at the dining tables, but unfortunately they are only available at the bar.
We decided to sit at one of their community tables in the bar area instead of in the dining area. This was our first mistake of the evening. We sat there for at least 10 minutes without anyone coming over to us even though I had asked the bartender for menus, which we never received. As two waiters continually passed us, I tried to make eye contact with them, but they were having none of it. After 15 minutes of trying to get someone’s attention Erin went up to a busboy first then five minutes later she had to get up again and ask the hostess for menus and to state that we were a little dissapointed with the lack of service. At the same time, I also asked the bartender again if he could find our server. Erin was finally able to get one of the managers to come over and give us menus 30 minutes after we had been there. He did not offer an apology, and made no effort to try and make us feel welcome in his establishment. Needless to say, I was not pleased and was curious to see how the rest of this evening was going to turn out.
I am a member of Slow Foods Phoenix and am very excited to see that Caffe Boa is a Slow Cook establishment, plus they use organic fruits and vegetables in their foods. Some of my favorites are McClendon’s for citrus and exotic greens and Queen Creek Olive Oil which has amazing flavor. I am a Master Gardener and the way food is grown is vitally important to me ~ thank you Caffe Boa for taking the time and effort to use locally sourced produce and goods to create with and food that is in season, not shipped here from halfway around the world.
We decided to try a couple different appetizers to experience the true flavor of Caffe Boa. The Autumn Maccaroncello which is a lovely blend of handmade penne pasta tossed with Butternut Squash puree and wild honey sauce, toasted pepitas, pecorino, and Slovenian Pumpkin oil. This dish is very sweet and tasted absolutely amazing plus it paired quite well with my Riesling. (HH $7) Chef Payton Curry makes handmade pulled mozzarella daily ~ it is utterly delicious. (Not on HH menu, $12) Out of the two, give me the Autumn Maccaroncello again and again.
At this point our waiter noticed our notebooks and asked if we were doing a review. We did admit that we were in hopes that we would have great service for the remainder of the time we were there…more on that later. He did recommend the Prosecco Bisol “Jeio” Italy for me which I did love, a little dry, a little sweet, a little perfect.
For our main course, we ordered the Maine Diver Scallops and the Short Ribs Tortellini. The Maine Diver Scallops were enhanced with an heirloom potato puree, braised leeks, and puffed capers. For the price of $26, I had expected more than two scallops. Although they were large and scrumptious, just seemed a bit too pricey for me. Also, those capers have to go ~ they tasted burnt and really took away from this dish. The evening’s winner for the best dish has to go to the Short Ribs Tortellini. So so good! The delicate pasta was served with a Pecorino Fondue and the meat inside was so full of flavor that it just seemed to melt in my mouth. Priced at $18 for 6 tortellinis ~ the taste alone on these make them a great value. I paired this dish with a Schug Pinot Noir, Sonoma that truly enhanced the taste of the meat.
At the same time we were ordering dessert, we noticed our server was sat a very large table. I wasn’t worried because he had been doing such a good job up to this point even with the less than stellar start. We ordered the triple berry cobbler, but was told that the last two were sold. I then asked for the tiramisu ~ you guessed it ~ out of that too. Erin ordered the bread pudding instead. I have to mention that I personally do not like bread pudding and was not enthusiastic about our last option. Please do not order the bread pudding! It was dry, and to me, not edible. We had a couple bites and the waiter even noticed we were not pleased with this dessert. He did not offer to exchange it or to replace it.
At this point we had been at Caffe Boa for two and a half hours and we were ready to call it an evening. Guess what happened? We couldn’t get our servers attention for 15 minutes to bring us our check! I kid you not. When we received our check I was surprised and saddened to see that we were still charged for the bread pudding. After waiting for an additional 15 minutes for him to pick up the check with our credit cards. Erin had to get up AGAIN and take our forms of payment to the hostess so we may cash out.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I will go back. I did truly enjoy the food and the atmosphere was cozy, but the service, the service just left a horrible taste in my mouth about the whole experience. While there, we asked for help from the bartender, the hostess, the busboy, the server, AND the manager. I sure hope when my counterparts in Foodies Like Us went there they were treated with a little bit more respect and had better service.