We recently sat down with Maarten Saarberg, one of the co-owners of Boca’s bar and restaurant. Maarten tells us that the idea for the restaurant originated with his brother and co-owner, Philip Saarberg, who in partnership with his friend, Miguel Mecidi, wanted to take the next step in restaurant service. Philip, who had been working in kitchens since he was 14-years-old, decided it was time to go into business for himself.
Maarten has a background in hotel management; he received his master’s degree from the Vrij Universiteit and was a consultant for five years, but he just didn’t consider it his passion in life. Together with Philip and Miguel, they conjured a new way to eat sandwiches and created a cozy place to have drinks with friends.
Boca’s Bar encourages a family atmosphere among the staff and clientele in an attempt to cultivate a genuine camaraderie. “Something that we feel is very important: When you come in, you should feel like a guest. You should feel happy here.”
Dutch Sandwiches with a Twist
Simple sandwiches are a well-known Dutch breakfast and lunch favorite, but Boca’s takes the sandwich to another level. In October of 2011, Boca’s opened to the public, offering a one-of-a-kind sandwich menu, including savory, grilled items such as hamburgers, chimichurri steak, or taleggio cheese and roasted bell peppers with herb oil.
Additionally, their cold sandwich menu ranges from savory to sweet, everything from salmon and cream cheese to chocolate flakes (a classic Dutch favorite) with fresh strawberries. Each sandwich comes on a fresh, artisan role.
Maarten recommends trying one or two sandwiches to begin with and ordering more if you’re still hungry. To order, just tick off the quantity on the disposable paper menus provided. At present, the menu includes about 45 different kinds of sandwiches. Maarten tells us that the wide variety of food is inspired by the chefs, who come from both Dutch and international backgrounds.
At Boca’s, you can expect reasonable prices and reasonable portion-sizes. In addition to sandwiches, they offer a variety of sweets to whet your whistle. We especially enjoyed the lemon cheesecake.
Maarten and his management team put good customer service first. He references the restaurant’s namesake (boca means “mouth” in Spanish), stating, “I promise if you come in, you will go out with a smile.” In addition, Maarten candidly admits that Boca’s is an especially nice place for women to get together because of the cozy atmosphere and female-friendly portion sizes.
Soon, Maarten, Philip, and Miguel plan to open another venue near Sarphatipark, where the idea will be to have a larger space for a café and bar with more standing area. Maarten jokes, “Sarphatipark will be our terrace!”
Located conveniently in the charming Jordaan district, just a stone’s throw from Noorderkerk. For reservations, call +31 20 820 37 27.
Boca’s Bar and Restaurant
Westerstraat 30 Amsterdam
1015 MK Amsterdam