In June 2019, Boia De restaurant from chef couple Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer open its doors in Miami’s up and coming Buena Vista neighborhood. The funky, intimate restaurant is the first brick and mortar concept from the culinary duo who until May operated La Pollita; a beloved Mexican food cart in the nearby Design District.
Boia De (which translates to Oh My! from Italian) accommodates just 24 seats in a long, narrow space. Its retro-modern style, comfortably chic furnishings and modern American menu offer a warm welcome to neighbors, friends and South Florida foodies curious about the couple’s new project. La Pollita was a beloved but limited stage for the two; at Boia De, diners will be able to witness the full scope of their fine dining training and culinary influences and backgrounds. Luci, a Miami native from a big Latin-Italian family, has worked in some of New York’s most acclaimed kitchens including Scarpetta, The Nomad, and Carbone, and spent a summer cooking in Tuscany. Alex, whose culinary career is equally pedigreed, worked in Los Angeles at Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Animal and Son of a Gun and New York’s Eleven Madison Park as well as The Nomad, where he met Luci.
Boia De’s menu embraces sharing, with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Straightforward with standout signature dishes; it ranges from snacks and starters to large format composed plates. Choices include Crispy Polenta with marinated eggplant, basil and ricotta salata, Baked Clams with ‘njuda and lemon, Ricotta Gnudi with cherry pomodoro and Crispy Potato Skins with burrata, caviar, and hardboiled egg. Larger plates include Pappardelle alla Lepre, rabbit sugo with tomato and rosemary; and Grilled Wagyu Short Ribwith maitake mushrooms.
On the lighter side, guests can opt for Luci’s Chopped Salad or Tuna Crudo with Sicilian pesto, smoky eggplant miso and crispy couscous; Grilled Broccolini with ranch and bottarga, and Roasted Grouper with crispy artichokes and Meyer lemon beurre blanc. Desserts include Carrot Cake, Chocolate Torte and other simple but divine selections as well as scoops from Frice Cream, a local ice cream purveyor.
The emphasis on local resources naturally extends to the dining experience as well—in some cases, uber local—bread from Miami’s outpost of Sullivan Street Bakery, coffee from Great Circle Coffee, Frice Cream—all located in the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, perhaps the most compelling story behind the restaurant’s genesis lies with the involvement of local artisans, artists, purveyors and friends all helping to bring Boia De to life.
Paula Lemme—whose interior firm By Lemme has completed restaurant and hospitality commissions around the world—is a childhood friend of Luci’s and jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on a labor of love.
“The idea was to create a funky hidden gem with colorful touches that play up Alex and Luci’s creative personalities,” says Lemme. “From the playful monkey wallpaper in the bathroom and the custom Memphis shelving behind the bar, to the antique furniture pieces collected from their travels over the years, every detail has been meticulously thought out to create a homey, retro vibe with a hint of nostalgia that evokes Italy in the 1970s/80s.”
Other Miami creatives have also been part of the process—Danielle Kaufmann of Miami Shores’ Proper Sausages created hand thrown plate ware and table accessories under her DK Pots pottery label while Beth Rhodes, who contributed her artistic talents in branding and painting La Pollita, spearheaded Boia De’s branding.
“We are blessed to be surrounded by a community of talented friends—both in and out of the kitchen,” says Luci. “Since I moved back to Miami three years ago with Alex, we’ve reconnected and connected with so many people. When it came time to open Boia De, their creativity and support helped shape the character and culture of the restaurant. We’re so happy to have finally opened our restaurant, and we could not have done it without them.”
Front of house duties are well-handled by Bianca Sanon, an alumni of the New York restaurant scene who serves as general manager and sommelier. Her well-rounded wine list of over 75 selections offers a variety of low intervention wines of both Old and New World vintages including a number of well-priced Chilean wines; a nod to Luci’s Chilean roots. Boia De also offers a selection of beer and wine by the glass in addition to bottles for now; a full liquor bar is planned for later on.
Boia De located at 5205 Northeast Second Avenue is open for dinner six nights a week (closed Tuesdays) from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday until 11:30 p.m.