Noca Dinner Service Is Back and We Tried It
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Evie Carpenter Squid Ink Linguine
Location: 3118 East Camelback Road
Open: Reopened for dinner February 12
Eats: New American
Price: $30 to $60 per person
There are plenty of restaurants in town doing New American cuisine, but few that have the reputation of Eliot Wexler's Biltmore restaurant Noca. Sure, since stopping dinner service after the departure of former executive chef Claudio Urciuoli last year, the restaurant's buzz quieted a lot, but the lull didn't stop the excitement when the announcement was made that the Noca would begin serving dinner again under a new -- and quite young -- chef, Adam Brown.
As of last week it's fair to say: Noca's back. There are a few changes to the dining room's style, but they're not really that noticeable unless you logged plenty of hours there before (at least that's I'm told by those who have dined there a lot).
Evie Carpenter Hamachi Crudo
The menu, which went pretty much entirely Italian under Urciuoli, is back to an eclectic mix of simple but exactingly prepared dishes influenced by Italian, French, and other cuisines.
The Crudo is an artfully arranged dish of hamachi with blood orange and a pistachio dust. It's a winning blend of flavors, but mostly what we appreciated was the quality of each of the ingredients.
If you're craving a heartier start, don't overlook the mushroom soup. Topped with crème fraiche and a medley of fresh mushrooms, the soup left us wishing our bowls were deeper. It's a simple enough dish, and it let the ingredients shine.
Evie Carpenter Mushroom soup
As for the pastas, they're handmade, and you can definitely taste it. We enjoyed the squid ink linguini, which comes covered in a variety of fresh seafood including, of course, pieces of beautifully tender squid. It may not be the most developed dish you've ever tasted but the perfectly cooked linguine is an achievement worth appreciation in its own right.