The red neon exclamation point that hangs above Boia De’s door really says it all. There’s just so much to be excited about here - from the painfully adorable interior design to the consistently excellent Italian food - and it can be hard to sum it up better than an ionized jolt of neon in the form of a bright, red exclamation point.
But, we’ll do our best.
Boia De is an Italian restaurant barely wider than a bowling lane located in a strip mall on the edge of Little Haiti. The one-page menu usually has somewhere between 15 to 20 outstanding dishes, along with natural wine, cider, beer, and aperitivo cocktails. There are staples that have been on the menu since day one - like the world’s greatest chopped salad and the world’s fanciest potato skins - but options change often enough to make each visit feel fresh. Whenever you come, you can bet on encountering some of the best pasta in Miami. The rotating selection includes dishes like sweet corn agnolotti, king crab tagliolini nero, and gnocchi with chunks of sausage underneath a blizzard of shaved black truffle.
You’d be completely justified coming here only for the food, but we’d also make a reservation just to sit at the bar for ten minutes and stare at the restaurant. Boia De is cute - but not in a generic way, with various internet trends cobbled together into an algorithmic aesthetic designed to boost social media engagement. No, Boia De feels more personal than that, like a thoughtful present from a best friend versus a $10 gift certificate from a boss who spelled your name wrong on the card.
There are some details of Boia De that you can’t help but notice (and love), like the cigar-smoking monkeys on the bathroom wallpaper. But other details are nearly imperceptible, especially while distracted by the inevitably delicious things that’ll end up in front of you. The lighting hits your plate just perfectly, the distance between tables feels optimally calibrated, and the exclamation point motif follows you throughout the restaurant subtly, from the wallpaper to the front cover of the fantastic natural wine menu. It’s a gentle reminder that you are currently experiencing one of the most exciting dinners in Miami.
Because Boia De is both so tiny and so great, you’ll need to make a reservation two or three weeks out unless you want to cross your fingers and try for very early or very late bar seating. But that just means you get to spend those weeks living with the kind of anticipation that usually precedes birthdays or holidays you actually enjoy celebrating.
That’s one of the best parts of Boia De - the way that exclamation point feeling glows brighter and brighter from the moment you book a table until you’re finally sitting in the restaurant, sipping wine and twirling unbelievably good king crab tagliolini nero onto your fork. And afterwards, it might be tough to describe the experience to friends without using a six-foot tall neon exclamation point.
This super crispy polenta comes with a little side of marinated eggplant, which you can arrange onto your polenta pieces like a little tartine. It’s a great warm-up dish to get on the table first.
If ever there were a salad worth preserving in the Smithsonian, it’s this vinegary masterpiece. It comes with perfectly dressed radicchio, lettuce, cannellini beans, tomatoes, peperoncini, provolone cheese. When it hits the table, we tear into it like it’s a 32-ounce ribeye.
When most folks close their eyes and picture potato skins, this is not what they see. However, you will have a very hard time going back to the TGI Fridays versions after you taste this version topped with stracciatella, a hard egg, and a healthy scoop of caviar.
The really great beef tartare is made with diced hangar steak and covered in tonnato sauce. It’s a filling portion, which you get to heap onto a couple slices of grilled bread.
If you came to Boia De and didn’t get at least one pasta, you did it wrong. And the tagliolini nero is our favorite version they serve. The magnificent squid ink pasta is served cold with fat lumps of king crab meat, herbs, and an incredible white wine truffle sauce that clings to all of the above.
The sweet Corn agnolotti is another reliably delicious pasta you can usually find here. The lobster mushroom and the pockets of corn agnolotti are a sweet and savory duo you won’t regret inviting to dinner.
What makes the tiramisu “crispy” are the layers of Pavesini biscuits instead of soaked ladyfingers. What makes it delicious is, well, everything.