Boizao is indeed more than a steakhouse; it is truly a dining experience like no other…just like the logo says.
My wife and I dined here on a Monday evening with reservations for seven o’clock. When we arrived, there were perhaps a dozen or so other patrons. In the interest of full disclosure, we were dining here because my wife, a teacher, received a gift certificate from one of her students, and my wife felt this would be a good birthday dinner for me. This student just happened to be the daughter of the owner, so the gift certificate was good for two cocktails, two meals, and two desserts. Again, in the interest of full disclosure, dinner for two would have run about $120, and we did receive individual attention from the owner in the form of a tour of the skewer grill and he explained the history and operation of the restaurant.
To begin with, there is an unlimited access salad bar. However, a salad bar like no other! This is not the iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and maybe macaroni or tuna salads. No, this salad bar offers beans and rice, sushi, grilled portabella mushrooms, stuffed artichoke hearts, grilled asparagus, chicken salad, potato salad (not swimming in mayonnaise), waldorf salad, roast peppers, smoked salmon, prosciutto di Parma and shrimp salad as well as other delicious salad options. The great thing about this salad bar is that it can be used as a vegetarian alternative to guests who prefer to forego the meat service.
When seated at your table, each patron is given what looks like a drink coaster; one side is red, the other is green. This signals your servers either that you are taking a break (red) or that you are ready for another serving (green). The waiter pays close attention to the tables so there is never a wait on your next sample. When you are ready for your serving you can signal the waiter and request a particular meat or you can just stop one of the servers as they pass the table. The meat is prepared on a skewer and the server cuts a slice – which you hold with your individual tongs – to place on your plate. There are seventeen different meats available, and the wife and I sampled (multiple times) the following:
‘Picanha’ – house specialty, the most tender and flavorful cut imaginable, Filet Mignon, Filet Mignon w/bacon, Lamb Chops with mint jelly, ‘Alcatra’ – top sirloin , ‘Lombo’ – Pork Tenderloin, ‘Frango’ – chicken leg. The flavor of each meat is unique and the quality is unbelievable. In all honesty, I think I do prefer this to sitting down in front of a huge thick steak. The serving is all you can eat from as many of the seventeen offerings available. In addition to your meat servings, there is unlimited mashed potatoes and fried banana (which is a tasty offset to the meats). We were advised to enjoy our meal and dine slowly…the restaurant is open until ten o’clock and it will take quite some time to work through all of the samples available. This is not a rush-in, rush-out experience!
We had a pitcher of Sangria (a fair amount of Brandy – not overpowering but a taste) and for dessert, my wife had the tiramisu while I enjoyed the Crème de Papaya with Crème de Cassis over the top; an amazing taste treat that perfectly topped the evening.
We left about eight thirty. By that time, there were probably two dozen patrons in the restaurant and none in the bar. However, talking to the owner…Friday and Saturday nights is the opposite end of the spectrum. Additional dining rooms can be opened to accommodate the crowd, as nearly a thousand patrons file through over the course of an evening!
In closing, I would have to give this experience and the restaurant a five star rating. The cuisine is phenomenal, the atmosphere pleasant and conducive to a relaxing dining experience, the servers and wait staff were always on time on target. It is a place for special occasions, but is well worth the price. I say that as we intend to bring the in-laws here for their anniversary dinner, and the wife and I can always use it for special occasions henceforth. Boizao has to be one of the premier restaurants in Tampa.
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