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“getting back in the swing”
Review of NOCA - CLOSED

NOCA
Price range: US$31 - US$50
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Special Occasion Dining
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighbourhood: Camelback East
Cross street: 32nd Street and East Camelback Road
Reviewed 26 April 2014

We went to Noca on our last trip to Phoenix, and it was the best dinner we had while in town. Located in a strip mall (it seems that we are finding dining gems in strip malls) off Camelback Road, the interior is fun and eclectic.
They had been closed from November to March replacing the chef, and whoever they got is doing a great job.
I had the carrot soup with sliced pecans, the simple salad that is anything but, with pickled carrot and great slabs of Manchego cheese, and the tagliatelle carbonara that was almost but not quite overpowered with the smoky tasso littered in the pasta.
Cindi had the warm panzanella salad, that in keeping with their philosophy of using what's in season substituted brussels sprouts for tomatoes. She also had the hanger steak with some of the best potatoes I have had.
After dinner coffee comes in a french press, and the only disappointment was no dessert menu has been formulated yet. You do get a torch of cotton candy but I'm not a big cotton candy fan.
The service is friendly if a little ditzy. They really need to rethink their wine list. For location and menu, Noca does not need five or six choices of $150 and up bottles of wine for each varietal.
Go by, eat well, you won't be disappointed.

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Thank Jim M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviews (73)
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3 - 7 of 73 reviews

Reviewed 19 March 2014

We have been dining at, and enjoying NOCA, since its opening. We did the history, and have dined with every chef, and all meals have been very good, to excellent.

In my first review (on ChowHound, just after the formal opening), I noted that the space was a "work in progress." When Eliot Wexler, the owner, took over the property, much was in place, and he launched into a program to make little changes, when possible. I noted many of those, plus changes in chefs, and the additions of items, such as a Tasting Menu, and the Chef's Counter.

Recently, NOCA shut down for dinner, while some more significant changes were made to the dining room. Some were obvious (no high bistro tables), but some were far more subtle. Now, the new dining room seems much more open, and spacious, but one might not pick up on all the changes that contribute to that feeling. We had to be stepped through some of those, asking "was that always there... ?" Any returning patrons might feel that something is different, but not be quite sure of what, or why.

One of the biggest changes seems to be that the noise level has gone down, and I think that is a good thing. While never really loud, due to the harder surfaces, and the audio system, it seemed to be just above where I would have wanted it - not on my last visit. I do not even recall the audio system, and casual conversation for a 4-top was very easy, even for my older ears. On a few occasions, we opted for other venues for a business dinner, just so that conversation could take place easily - not so any more. While the surfaces, like the nice mirrors to provide those seated, facing the wall, to have a view of the restaurant, are still hard, the ambient noise level seems to be down by about 5dB.

The feeling is that the room has been "stretched," but it has not. Still, it seems more spacious, than its previous iteration.

The menu was fairly new to us (changes daily, based on availability of fresh ingredients), though the general theme - fresh and delicious is still in force. There were but a few variations of some favorite dishes, plus some new ones, that will become favorites of ours.

The closest thing to a complaint that I can offer is that I do wish that the 4-tops had been made larger. With a bunch of wines, it did become a bit crowded, but the staff was extremely helpful in keeping the bottles elsewhere, and never forgetting to make sure that all of us had wines in our glasses. Still, another 8" in all directions would have been perfect. [As an aside, when it's just my wife, and myself, some restaurants will ONLY seat us at a full 4-top, as they know that we are likely to have 6-8 wine glasses at any one time.]

On a random evening, the restaurant filled to about 80%, before we left.

The wine list is in transition, BUT is one of the more interesting small lists in The Valley. There are none of the "usual suspects," and each wine is designed to pair with the food from the kitchen. One does not need a 200 page list to accomplish that, but careful planning and forethought IS important. NOCA delivers on that count, and I find the prices to be very good. There are a few "trophy wines," but they ARE in keeping with the dishes. Though one might not be intimately familiar with all the wines (remember, few, if any, of those "usual suspects"), if they have any questions, the staff is ready, and available to help with any selections. If one gets uber-geeky, then Eliot will be on hand to guide the diner through the list. Wine service is top-notch too, and the staff knows how to serve and handle the wines.

We will definitely be dining at NOCA again, and only hope that Eliot can find a way to work some of the wonderful Foie Gras dishes from the earliest days, into the new menu. A couple of those were my all-time Top 2 and 3, only behind the Michelin Two-Starred Greenhouse, London/Mayfair. NOCA even bested such chefs as Michel Rostang, Joël Robuchon, Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse and Marcus Wareing with the Foie Gras.

Some reviewers have graded NOCA down, for not having a view, or not being in some prestigious resort. The location, and the view (of a parking lot) contribute to making it a "neighborhood gem."

While not cheap, NOCA is not expensive either (even with some great and highly interesting wines), and we find it to be an excellent value.

The atmosphere is casual, but gentlemen in sport coats will not feel out of place.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank The_Loup_Garou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2014

We love restaurants with one page daily changing menus because they usually mean farm to table fresh, creative and well prepared offerings - and this restaurant was no exception. The duck comfit was stellar as was he squash soup. The scallops were beautifully caramelized and served with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The two short rib filled pierogies were plated with red cabbage which was a perfect foil to the richness of the dish. Blue cotton candy, which I gather is a signature pre-dessert, brought back fabulous childhood board walk memories. The delicious made to order donuts with chocolate sauce finished the meal. Alexandra, our waitperson, was efficient and accommodating. We cannot wait to go back - again and again.

    • Value
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Thank MCBW5875
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 February 2014

Had dinner last night and based on some previous reviews our expectations were for a pleasant meal
but nothing spectacular . The restaurant met and exceeded our expectations. Service was excellent . Menu limited but everything we had was excellent. Salad with champagne vinegar dressing and cherries was hit. Combination of taste great. Squid ink linguini full of flavor however the portion was small but filling. Sea Bass excellent. Donuts severed complimentary were hot and fresh. Fresh pressed coffee also great.

Thank David T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 December 2013 via mobile

We stopped in for lunch and we're blown away by the original offerings, tastes and very reasonable prices. The tomato soup ( vegetarian) was both delicious and a comfort food. My wife and I shared a generous bowl. The delight was maintained through the original sandwiches, on artisan breads, to the outstanding french press coffee and homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Nova is now one of our top go to places for lunch.

Thank BruceRH965
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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