Zagat editor Kelly Dobkin takes a look at two brand-new Manhattan spots that are putting their unique spin on classic Spanish tapas.
Veteran restaurateur Sid Gupta and Woodstock restaurant owner Marion Maur have partnered up to open Casa Pomona, a welcome Upper West Side addition on Columbus Avenue.
"The concept of Casa Pomona is meant to capture the whole cultural experience of Spanish dining," Bernhard says. "What we do is try to have a social, communal area in the front of the restaurant and the back dining room is more of a conventional setting."
The space features communal tables and original artwork including a mural by Brooklyn artist Eduardo Anievas Cortines.
"The mural is Galicia with the figure of Pomona kind of laying over the top of in sort of an abstract way, but it's beautiful and it draws you in and it has great color," says Bernhard.
The menu features an array of inventive takes on traditional Spanish tapas that will change seasonally.
"One of the most well-known Spanish dishes is pulpo, which is octopus. We saute the octopus with some garlic and then we’ve made some homemade pickled celery hearts and some confit cherry tomatoes and a little bit of parsley and some olive oil," says Bernhard. "It's very simple but we have really great contrasting flavors."
In the West Village is Barraca, another hot spot for tapas, run by chef Jesus Nuñez.
"Barraca is a very simple concept -- real tapas, real paella, real sangria. We are bringing Spain to the table so people can eat a bite of real Spanish food," Nuñez says.
Nuñez has given classic tapas his own creative spin, and he makes six different speciality paellas.
"We have six different paellas, five with rice, one de fideua [with noodles]. We have one with meat, one with fish, black, red, and one with vegetables," says Nuñez. "The theory is very simple. I want people happy, eating good food, having fun and coming back."
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