My friends had been telling me for months how I just had to try NOCA. “It’s so good,” they said “You will love it.” I knew I would get there but I just needed to take it slow. You have to understand that I’ve been burned before by such recommendations. Sent to places by “foodies” only to be disappointed with the meal. So now when I’m told about a “must try” place I tread slowly, do some research and then decide whether or not to check the place out.
Last Thursday I finally decided I was ready to give NOCA a try and I’ll tell you right from the start I was not disappointed. Arriving slightly early for our 5:30 reservation, my friends and I were patiently waiting outside when the restaurant’s hostess graciously escorted us out of the heat and offered us a seat at the bar. Kudos to the staff for making us feel welcome even though they were still doing the final prep for the evening’s meal.
We were seated promptly at 5:30 and introduced to Carl, who would be our waiter for the evening. We couldn’t have asked for a better waiter. Carl explained to us how NOCA changes its menu daily and described our dinner options in great detail. That evening NOCA was offering an heirloom tomato appetizer. Being a tomato lover I just had to get it. Actually, after listening to Carl rave about the dish we all decided to start our meal with it. Not one of us was disappointed. The tomato slices were accompanied by a pesto foam and topped with a Champagne vinaigrette and just the right amount of sea salt to enhance their juicy flavor.
I decided on the duck breast for dinner; which Carl explained would be like no other dusk breast I’d ever had and he was so right. The dish was amazing; from the wild rice it was placed upon; to the pickled grapes that were served alongside; the entire dish went together perfectly. One of my dinner companions tried the roasted beet cannelloni and the other had the grilled scallops. Both were equally pleased with their choices and couldn’t stop bragging about how wonderful everything was so far.
As we perused the dessert menu Carl brought us a bowl of strawberry flavored cotton candy. This might seem odd at first but trust me it was not your run of the mill cotton candy found at the fair. It reminded me more of eating a bowl of fresh strawberries that just melted in your mouth. After all this I still was interested in dessert. I can’t help it I’m a dessertaholic. So I decided on the gelato trio and picked salted butter, pistachio and the old standby chocolate as my flavors. Each one was equally good in their own way.
I have to admit that my friends were right on with this recommendation. NOCA gets an A+ for food and service in my book.
3118 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016