By: Shaina Wizov Contributing Writer
Boca Raton is no stranger to the act of restaurant turnover, but what happens when the actual restaurant owners are the ones responsible for it? That’s what The Locale is — a rebranding of its former inhabitant, The Little Chalet, with a new name, concept, menu, decor and overall vibe, in the same downtown Boca location.
Owner Ricky Marcellini and Executive Chef Joshua Miranda introduced their New American cuisine with a Latin flair last year, featuring Sao Paolo-style wood-fired pizzas; fresh seafood dishes like grilled octopus, shrimp ajillo and Faroe Island salmon; steaks cooked to order and more. There’s also a mixologist-curated craft cocktail menu, including craft beer and wine, that’ll make guests thirsty just by reading the descriptions.
The cocktails feature trending ingredients like Acai liqueur, bourbon-soaked cherries, aquafaba (the cooking liquid from chickpeas), and mezcal. There’s also a French Press Sangria that changes daily and a Mule of the Day. During Sunday brunch, enjoy $14 bottomless mimosas, bellinis, Bloody Marias (tequila) or Funky Buddha Floridian.
The menu is full of Latin-inspired dishes, many of which can be shared tapas-style. One of the most popular items on the menu, and something you definitely have not seen before in Boca, making it even more enticing, is the Octopus Plantains: three fried green plantains, also known as tostones, are topped with sliced, marinated octopus and avocado salsa. The combination of flavors is on point, and the tender yet crisp plantain is the perfect vehicle for its toppings. Be forewarned; octopus lovers may not want to share. For those who follow a gluten-free diet, Chef Joshua will happily prepare your dish by pan-frying the plantains instead of using the deep-fryer.
Vegetarians are also taken care of at The Locale with a portobello mushroom burger that definitely provides a hearty entrée option. It’s topped with a tamarind glaze, manchego cheese, crispy kale, and aioli, and served on a brioche bun. The glaze adds a bright, bold flavor, and the meaty texture of the mushroom gives it that burger-esque mouthfeel. The dish comes with fries, which you can enhance with truffle salt for an up-charge.
Speaking of fries, if there’s one appetizer to get and share with the table, it’s Los Chips, a trio of fried plantain chips, yucca fries and sweet potato fries, served with three sauces, roasted red bell pepper, queso fresco and chili. Sauces make everything better, don’t they? Having a variety to try makes this even more enjoyable as every bite could be different than the last. The roasted red pepper sauce is made with cream cheese, so you can imagine its velvety smooth texture. The sauce trio offers a little bit of everything; sweet, savory and spicy. While it might seem a little on the heavy side to have so many fried ingredients in one dish, nothing was overly heavy or greasy in the least. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on Los Chips.
The Locale not only offers wood-fired pizzas, but desserts as well, including the signature Nutella Escalinata, consisting of mascarpone, Nutella and roasted almond, and served with vanilla ice cream. Salivating yet? Thought so.
The Locale is located at 499 South Federal Highway. The restaurant opens for dinner daily at 4 p.m., and Happy Hour is every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and features half-priced cocktails, beers, and wines by the glass, as well as appetizers, tacos and wood-fired pizzas ranging from $4-$11. Brunch is served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.