From beloved taco truck to Michelin-Star awarded Italian restaurant, co-owners of Boia De, Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, have certainly made a splash in the grand pool of Miami cuisine. Boia De, located in Little Haiti, is normally completely booked up 29 to 30 days in advance. So, yeah, it’s pretty popular. But in a city of endless entertainment and high-quality dining experiences, what exactly sets Boia De apart from the rest? The answer can be found in the quality of the food, experience, team and, of course, the owners themselves.
Run by co-owners Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, a couple where both have each individually worked their ways through the restaurant industries of cities like Los Angeles and New York City, this small restaurant packs a big flavor on many levels.
“The motto of Boia De Has always been ‘Everyday Better,’” said Giangrandi.
Since its opening in the summer of 2019, Boia De continues to affirm its everyday better motto, even throughout COVID-19.
While the Italian restaurant may appear unassuming on the outside — surrounded by a concrete parking lot and nestled away in a small strip mall space marked with a giant pink neon exclamation point above the entrance — the vibrant decorations inside bring life to the dark green walls and dimly lit interior. When enjoying a meal at Boia De, settle down at a wooden table booth or sit up at the bar and make note of what’s on the walls around you; even the wandering eye has much to observe and admire at a place like Boia De.
As mentioned before, this place fills up fast. With only 27 seats available inside, Boia De isn’t exactly ideal for large groups or parties. However, if you’re looking for an intimate experience with a few close friends or a significant other, Boia De is the place to be.
Matt Meltzer, Thrillist’s correspondent for Miami, spoke on his experience and opinions of the restaurant.
“Boia De is a great spot if you just want to have a nice kind of quiet, intimate, dark dinner,” said Meltzer. “The service is incredible — everything from servers who really seem like they enjoy being there who know a lot about the menu, the sommelier… is very good about telling you what they have and what they can pair with food.”
Hard work and good service are extremely important to Giangrandi and Meyer. Not only do the two carefully hire staff who genuinely want to be there, but they also put their own sweat and tears into their mom-and-pop business. In other words, they’re constantly on the grind and working hard.
“More than anything, we’ve tried to hire good people,” said Giangrandi. “Because there’s a lot of things that if someone has the right attitude, you can train or you can teach. Just having good people around builds a nice culture, and I think that’s really important.”
Boia De trains all its staff members to do many different jobs around the restaurant. The co-owners emphasize honing skills such as breaking down fish in the kitchen while also incorporating staff ideas into the restaurant’s meals, remarking that it would be “boring” if it were only the two owners contributing to the menu.
Speaking of the menu, Boia De’s small menu includes several delectable Italian dishes that, according to Meltzer, set it apart from other restaurants like it.
“There’re eight million mediocre Italian restaurants in Miami,” said Meltzer. “And I think [Boia De] manages to have some stuff like [pappardelle alla lepre] that’s just not something you see typically — and that’s what makes it stand out.”
The aforementioned pappardelle alla lepre, made from Florida-based rabbit, tomato and rosemary, is one of a couple different kinds of pasta on this menu including tortellini in brodo and white truffle tagliatelle. If you’re not in the mood for pasta, try a taste of Boia De’s beef tartare with a garlic-shallot crumble and crispy capers or the ‘ika crudoe,’ made with cuttlefish, lima beans, beets and charred treviso. For dessert, drool over the carrot cake or ‘chocolate budino’ — when it comes to sweet treats, there’s no way to go wrong.
Don’t skip out on the cocktail menu either. Boia De has an interesting and diverse selection of tasty drinks, including the postcards from Italy cocktail, a selection of beers and many uncommon and exotic wines.
Between the unparalleled service, intimate atmosphere and delicious food, it’s no wonder Boia De soared to the top of Miami’s cuisine scene. In 2022, this restaurant was one of 11 restaurants in Miami to earn at least one Michelin Star. However, Meyer and Giangrandi remarked that this success, while a great accomplishment and rewarding, was unexpected.
“The heights we’ve reached was not what we aimed for in the first place,” said Meyer.
“We thought it would be successful because it also was in a huge space and we, you know, got a nice rent and things like that,” said Giangrandi. “I don’t think we ever thought it would become what it is.”
Following the success of Boia De, the co-owners have partnered with chef and friend Jeff Maxwell to open another restaurant only a few steps away: Walrus Rodeo.
While the public expects great things from Meyer and Giangrandi’s newest project, Boia De shines bright as a restaurant that the city of Miami can be proud of. Make a reservation online — 30 days in advance, of course — to experience the one-of-a-kind dining or try your luck as a walk in one day for one of the six seats at the bar or few outdoor tables. Either way, Boia De is worth the detour from your daily life.
If you can’t clutch that reservation at Boia De but still have a hankering for some authentic Italian food, here are some other options to help you satisfy your cravings.
In Coconut Grove, a cute pizzeria called Farinelli 1937 sits on the corner of Commodore and Grand Ave. With both indoor and outdoor seating and a large menu with a wide variety of food and drink options, you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. Choose to have a pizza and shareable plate night with friends, or all order your own entrees—either way, good food is guaranteed.
Located in the heart of the Miami Business District, Soya & Pomodoro is the combined dream of two Italian Immigrants realized in Miami. Cooking every dish on the menu with a sprinkle of familial love and creating a memorable experience for patrons, this restaurant won’t disappoint. Don’t forget to let your eyes rove around the space, as the main dining room’s décor includes beautiful bookshelves, art and architecture.
From the exquisite menu to the beauty of the restaurant itself, the Italian restaurant Carpaccio in Bal Harbor screams luxury. Open since 1994, this restaurant continues to provide an unforgettable dining experience to its patrons. Sit inside and enjoy the up-scale ambiance of the restaurant’s interior or choose to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air while people-watching without missing out on the fine-dining. Either way, you’ll leave with a full heart, and even fuller stomach.
words_nicole facchina. design_laurie vuong. photo_beth rhodes.
This article was published in Distraction’s Spring 2023 print issue.