Bodovino Taste + Tapas will be celebrating its fifth anniversary later this year. And did you know that this aptly named wine destination in BoDo recently launched a revamped all-day menu?
The menu reboot was put forth a few months ago by executive chef Zach McCullough. It now focuses on a larger selection of small plates (tapas, if you will), flatbread-style pizzas, sandwiches and salads, some of which depict the season. (It’s important to mention that Bodovino Ristorante at The Village at Meridian has a considerably different menu by design.)
The automated wine bar conjures up images of “The Jetsons” with its easy-to-use wine-dispensing machines that get filled with select bottles from around the globe. The mechanized system is accessible to those who purchase a micro-chipped Bodovino card that allows access to the 18 self-serve wine cases — made by WineEmotion — that pump out 1-ounce, 3-ounce and 5-ounce servings.
But the wine-friendly food itself is actually made and served by humans, and not accessed via some computerized machine like in that zany space-age cartoon. Everything comes out of a small kitchen, situated behind a glass deli case packed with charcuterie and cheeses.
In terms of interior design, the flagship Bodovino looks pretty much the same as it did when it opened in 2013. The dining room has lots of alcoves with tables and comfy couches where you can chillax while sipping wine and noshing on tapas. There’s even a small fireplace across from the long wine bar.
As for small plates, ordering the burrata ($8) will get you a gooey glob of fresh mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk that’s set in a puddle of zesty tomatillo sauce (think salsa verde) and topped with roasted shishito peppers, chopped grape tomatoes and basil chiffonade. The alabaster sphere of cheese comes on a ceramic platter with a little cleaver for spreading everything on crunchy crostini rounds.
Pan-seared scallops ($13) get lined up on a stroke of silky butternut squash and apricot puree. The perfectly cooked weathervane scallops (still jiggly in the center) were hit with fragrant cilantro oil and dollops of loosely formed cranberry gelée “caviar” that didn’t quite resemble fish roe pearls. Nice try, though.
At first glance, the maple-roasted Brussels sprouts ($9) looked a little dry, yet once you get your fork in there and stir all that crunchy bacon and maple syrup-tinged sauce around, it coats the quartered sprouts with a sweet essence, bolstered by the smokiness put off by the toothsome bacon bits.
Kobe beef meatballs ($12) are a holdout from the previous menu. Three meaty orbs — made with Kobe-style beef, ground lamb and fennel-spiked Italian sausage — come in a little cast-iron pan with chunky marinara sauce, finished with a big puff of ricotta and shaved asiago cheese. Since the meatballs are rolled in brown rice and not formed with breadcrumbs, the gluten-free crowd can enjoy them as well (just ask your server to leave out the baguette slices that get served upright in the red sauce).
The setas with garlic plate ($7) is essentially a small ceramic boat filled with sliced Italian brown mushrooms (creminis) sautéed with lots of garlic, finely chopped red onion and probably too much Marsala wine. It tasted like the cook didn’t properly burn off the wine when the mushrooms were deglazed in the pan. The mushroom sauté came sprinkled with shreds of nutty-tasting manchego cheese and served with a mere two slices of baguette.
The huckleberry chicken flatbread ($9) is a new item on the menu. All the toppings — sliced chicken breast, shaved red onion, gooey mozzarella and huckleberry-infused barbecue sauce — worked well together, yet the underlying flatbread was barely cooked at all. This made for a floppy flatbread experience.
I was interested in trying the pork shank rillettes with fig spread, but my attentive server quickly informed me that the kitchen had just sold the last one. Same goes for the sweet potato salad. Oh well. Maybe next time.
Now let’s talk sandwiches. The pork belly sandwich ($12) has the potential to be really good, but the pork belly during my visit wasn’t braised long enough (it also lacked a proper finishing sear), making it incredibly chewy to eat, to say the least. As a matter of fact, the meat was so tough that the sandwich — built on puffy ciabatta bread with melted Gorgonzola, jammy fig spread and arugula — came apart in pieces with each bite. The sandwich, in my case, was served with a mixed greens salad drizzled with watery blue cheese dressing.
The meat on the smoked brisket pita sandwich ($12) was also tough on the teeth. You would expect a brisket sandwich to be tender and redolent of smoke, but that’s clearly not the case with this one. Slices of extremely chewy beef came sandwiched between two rounds of barely toasted, crumbly flatbread, layered with horseradish-spiked mayonnaise, shaved red onion and Roma tomato slices that tasted like they were stored in a refrigerator for too long.
Bodovino offers some tasty dishes, but as you can see, the kitchen staff needs to do some fine-tuning before the food earns a stellar reputation, especially in a city where the culinary bar has been raised in recent years.
James Patrick Kelly is the Statesman’s restaurant reviewer: Email Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bodovino Taste + Tapas
Address: 404 S. 8th St., Boise (in BoDo)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Menu price range: small plates, soups and salads $4-$13; flatbread pizzas and sandwiches $8-$12.
Libation situation: Besides 144 rotating wines in the self-serve machines, you can also get six rotating taps of draft beers and draft wines made by Idaho’s Hat Ranch Winery. Bodovino also also doubles as a bottle shop, featuring hundreds of labels from around the world.
Kid friendly? Keep in mind that it’s a wine bar and probably not the best place for wee ones. But if you must, it does serve people of all ages until 8 p.m. nightly, then it goes to 21 and over till closing time.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes. There’s a lift at the Broad Street entrance.
Opened: December 2013