The plaza- and strip-mall-saturated landscape of South Florida means that dozens of interesting independent restaurants and bars are lost in the shuffle, visible only to those who know to seek them out. Wicked Awesome Snackbar in west Boca Raton is one of those all-too-easy-to-overlook spots. It's a small space in a busy shopping center on the northeast corner of State Road 7 and Glades Road, and unless you know it's there or work in the plaza, you're unlikely to stumble upon it.
But the restaurant, open for about a month, is slowly gaining online buzz. Ideally, this will help it to drum up the kind of business it will need to survive South Florida's protracted slow season. I stopped in on Tuesday afternoon for a late lunch and
had the place mostly to myself, save for a man seated at the bar who seemed to be a regular. This proved to my benefit, as I was able to chat at length with both my server/bartender and one of the owners who, like myself, is a longtime vegetarian and was eager to steer me in the right direction for a meat-free lunch.
Based on his recommendation, I chose the Beacon Hill pizzette over the farmer sandwich (which is packed with veggies like eggplant). The handmade pizza leans sweet versus savory, with caramelized pears, heady Gorgonzola, and crushed walnuts plus a dash of brown sugar. The pie took about 15 minutes or so to appear, a fact I was made privy to when I ordered. On any other day, that would've been an excuse to kill time with one of the restaurant's available craft beers (Dogfish Head, Magic Hat, etc.), but as I had my mind set on ordering a double-chocolate stout cupcake for dessert, I decided to scale back on the liquid calorie consumption.
The Beacon Hill pizzette.
Because I was lunching alone, I had ample opportunity to interact with the staff and observe the dynamics of the space. A discussion about Americans' general aversion to cold soups led to my getting a complimentary bowl of gazpacho to sample. The ripe sweet corn burst through the bright tomato base, and I found myself finishing the bowl, craving a hunk of bread to soak up the remainder. I preferred that sun-kissed vegetable flavor to the richness of the double-chocolate stout cupcake with buttercream frosting that I later snacked on at home. It's a damned fine sweet treat -- sinful and dense -- but a few bites were all I could manage in one sitting. My better half later noted that despite the indulgent quality, it's not a sugar-shock disaster like you'd be likely to find in the baked-goods aisle of a grocery store.
The cavity-inducing (but worthwhile) double-chocolate stout cupcake.
Wicked Awesome Snackbar is the brainchild of Paul Berger and Scott Fischer, who met when both were contestants on the first season of Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef in 2010. Neither made it into the finals, but they became buddies during taping and opened the Boca restaurant together this spring.
Anyone familiar with Boston vernacular instantly will recognize the restaurant's namesake nod to Beantown, though my server noted that some mistakenly read the moniker as an Australian reference. Boston-area mentions are sprinkled throughout the menu -- the Salem (chicken pizzette), the North End (tomato, mozzarella, and basil pizzette), and the wicked chopped salad, to name a few -- and the interior has a clean, modern aesthetic that would be perfectly suited to the Northeast.