Here we go again: Just as the buzz surrounding Umami Burger's L.A.-to-NYC expansion has finally mellowed, another out-of-town culinary treasure descends, sending the interwebs into another frenzy. This time, it's the beloved Boston tapas restaurant Toro, which opened its doors in Chelsea on Monday to droves of New Yorkers eager to see what they'd been missing out on.
As it turns out, a lot. Not that we don't have our own fair share of excellent Spanish tapas spots (we still love you, Boqueria), but these Boston chefs got game. That said, we cheated: For the ultimate Toro experience, we asked Chef Ken Oringer himself what to eat from his (and fellow Chef Jamie Bissonnette's) 59-item menu. And we suggest you follow our lead and order the same:
Morcilla y Callos: This rich, smoky, tomato-based stew (pictured above) was almost like a chili, and topped with thick slices of beautifully charred morcilla (blood sausage). "We wanted to offer a dish that was rustic and hearty going into the colder fall season," Oringer explained. "We make our morcilla in-house, and tripe is the favorite ingredient of Jamie. So we just put those things together with some marfaix beans to create this stew."
Datiles con Jamon: A fairly simple dish—medjool dates stuffed with almonds and cheese and wrapped in ham, sort of like a meat candy—that somehow felt rich. The tart cabrales blue cheese cut through the sweetness of the dates; the crisp serrano ham added salt and texture. "It's one of our most popular pinchos at the Boston restaurant, so we brought it over to New York," said Oringer.
Pez Globo: Like the tripe stew, the Morrocan-spiced blowfish tails weren't initially at the top of our list. A mistake: these tails were unreal. You squeeze some lemon on these strange fish lollipop things and eat them like chicken wings—or try, anyway. The tender fish just falls off the bone in this really beautiful way. "This dish is really about showcasing the quality of the seafood and freshness of the ingredients we bring to the plancha [grill] bar," Oringer adds.
Abalone: Oringer is particularly proud of his abalone. Compared to the other tapas, it's dressed down—seasoned only with brown butter and parsley, allowing the silky, mild fish to shine. "We spend a lot of time sourcing our seafood to get the best and freshest product available," he explained of the California-sourced fish. "I love the abalone."
Higado Frito: These fried chicken-liver-stuffed sage leaves were surprisingly light, crispy, and salty; the entire bite is elevated by the earthiness of the sage. "These have a ton of flavor—one of my favorites," Oringer said.
And for dessert:
Chocolate Crèmeux: This solid bar of dense, creamy chocolate mousse, topped with olive oil ice cream, sea salt, and a chicory crumble, was a hit at our table. Though the bar was a little too frozen for my liking—you could barely cut through the thing with a spoon—and the olive oil ice cream didn't quite compare to that of Batali's Otto Enoteca, it was still somehow outrageously good.
Toro, 85 10th Ave; 212-691-2360
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