Boka Review (Updated): Giuseppe Tentori Is the Baron of Bitterness

The three-star restaurant’s chef takes the meanest of flavors and makes it sing.

Photo: Eric Kleinberg

The Asian influence at Boka, seen in dishes like this grilled baby octopus with Korean barbecue short ribs, may seem a bit out of place, but the contemporary menu is well-balanced.

Boka (1729 N. Halsted St., 312-337-6070). Progressive American.

★★★ (excellent)

$$$$ ($50-plus per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)

Giuseppe Tentori continues to offer one of the most striking and richly satisfying contemporary American menus in town. He has an affinity for working with underutilized ingredients and transforming potentially bitter offerings into cool and subdued flavors. Think radicchio risotto with juniper-laced veal breast, venison loin with a duo of mole mustard jus and apple bacon sauce, and short-rib ravioli with a roasted cauliflower purée and grilled beef tongue. The Asian options seem a touch out of place, but Sarah Jordan’s desserts, including a smooth rooibos (red tea) sherbet, prove to be ideal foils. Dynamic wine list and expert service.

Dishes We Liked: veal breast with braised radicchio risotto, poached persimmon, aged balsamic, juniper, and sweetbread croutons ($14); field greens with rosemary-cranberry vinaigrette, granola clusters, yogurt meringue, and stewed cranberries ($9); short-rib ravioli with roasted cauliflower purée, red-wine-braised cabbage, maitake mushroom, Bartlett pears, and grilled beef tongue ($28); rooibos (red tea) yogurt sherbet with fresh plums, almond crisp, and basil ($12)

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Boka maintained its three-star rating in the June issue, on newsstands now.

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