Moëca [Cambridge, between Harvard and Porter]

I didn’t find a relevant thread and figured Moeca is definitely worthy of one (I would have posted sooner, but I needed to figure out how to add the accent mark in the title :wink: ). We were very excited when the people behind the outstanding Giulia took over the old Chez Henri (and Luce) space right around the corner, for a more seafood themed restaurant. The seafood antipasti at Giulia are always must order dishes for us, and Moeca definitely expands in this direction. While Giulia is still challenging in terms of reservations, Moeca has easier availability. It’s a bit of a welcome head scratcher as food, service, bartending and hospitality are all on par with Giulia. I can’t say enough about how welcoming and knowledgable the staff is. Cocktails are mostly creative, well balanced and delicious. Both floor wait staff and bartenders are well versed in the menu and happy to share recommendations.

If you enjoy raw dishes, we have never had a miss in that department. We recently went with a party large enough to order most items on the menu and enjoyed every one. I’m not usually a fan of oysters adorned with more than some red wine vinegar mignonette. However, the unicorn oysters with tomatillo, onion flower are delicious while still retaining briny oyster flavor.

Highlights among the share plates on recent visits included smoked trout, tuna n’duja, charred beet, endive (with dried beef), and crispy black garlic squid. We found the potato rolls to be heavy for this type of meal albeit delicious. Also, I have never met a croquette that I love, and there are so many other ways to prepare and serve a striper collar.

Borrowing from Giulia’s heritage, the pasta dishes are outstanding. As always, any ravioli on the menu is an automatic order. The current seasonal offering, sardinian ravioli with potato, ossabaw bacon, ramp, and aged cheddar is mouthwatering. The udon wasn’t the best rendering I have had. I’d stick with the traditional pastas here.

I tend to overload on small plates and shy away from the large plates. However, with a larger group we had a chance to sample the whole fish and fried offerings and they were excellent. I wouldn’t want to pass up the other flavors to make this my meal, but they are a great addition to share around the table. The buttermilk fried monkfish was particularly memorable.

The other welcome thing about Moeca is that the check always seems reasonable for the caliber of food, drink, atmosphere and hospitality. Looking at the menu prices I always expect a higher hit than what is on the final bill. A rare and welcome feeling in today’s local restaurant landscape. One reason for this is that portions are fair.

Moeca is one of our regular spots and will be as long as they stay at this level. With Moeca and Giulia, people who live in and frequent this neighborhood are quite fortunate.


^ This is what I’m on the lookout for these days.

We don’t go out as nearly much as we used to, because more often than not the experience has been pricey and disappointing. Thank you for this detailed report.

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Thank you for such great and mouth-watering intel!

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Love the seasonal ramps and alliums on the menu. And we have fond memories of the space from Chez Henri days…thanks for the tips!

PS - the wine list looks intruiging, though I would need guidance from the somm. Did you sample?

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I wonder if the lack of crowds is due to a bad marketing choice—people don’t know how to pronounce a restaurant name with an umlaut. I’m not being sarcastic. The public is fickle.


I haven’t been drinking much wine (or anything) recently. Thought I couldn’t resist a cocktail on my last few visits to Moeca. However, I would expect the servers can speak very knowledgeably on the wine list. I know Giulia offers wine pairings, so these folks do give thought in this area.

I agree that the name is not necessarily evocative of what the restaurant is, however, I don’t think they’re hurting for business. Rather reservations are more attainable relative to Giulia which is sometimes too much of a hassle to the point where we just walk in for early bar seats there. The restaurant is always full and lively as is the bar area, without being too crowded. A very nice balance actually.

I didn’t mean to say Moeca is inexpensive. However, I always feel like it is a good value relative to the area, with consistently high standards.


I hear you. What I meant is that when we splash out for a more expensive meal (by our standards), I just don’t want to be disappointed. From your description, it looks like Moeca would be a delicious bet for the type of experience I enjoy. Hope to get there over the summer.

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