DAILY BITES
The Buzz Around Toro

The word count on the menu at Toro reads more like a short story than a group of small plates. Extensive and potentially overwhelming, the choices at the new tapas local span from Spanish bites like pan con tomate and larger paellas, to the twists on tapas that makes Toro a coveted dinner spot. Options like miso butter in an otherwise traditional sea urchin sandwich are the ones that make Toro slightly different.

The New York outpost of Boston chefs Ken Oringer (Clio, Uni) and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa – both with Oringer) has been consistently mentioned with intrigue since its open in September of last year. As a former Nabisco factory along the Westside highway, it provides lofty ceilings and ample natural light, something coveted in New York spaces. It holds 120 seats and with a consistent waitlist, the buzz of voices is nothing short of a crowded nightclub. Masquerading as a dining experience, the loud music and crowded nature offer a club for people who would rather taste than dance. Even two-tops are clustered together in one long table, meshing an intimate dining experience with close proximity to a social atmosphere.

TOP 5
Tapas in the City!

Tapas in the City!

Dynamite comes in small packages, and nothing can be truer of the Spanish tapas. Small tasty morsels created to entice both the tastes and smells. These small plates of food represent European skills of creating delectable appetizers based on hot and cold variety. The Spanish tapas represent this perfectly. So where can you go to encounter these tasty finds in New York City? Let’s take a tour of these places;

Las Ramblas :: Bar de Tapas
CULINARY OCCASIONS
Destination: Spain at Andanada

With the recent popularity of Tapas and wine bars, Spanish food has enjoyed some time in the culinary spotlight. That popularity is well-warranted; Spain’s rich cultural history has lent its food culture a complex, nuanced palate. Food in the Iberian Peninsula has been influenced by other cultures (sauces from the Phoenicians, olives from the Romans, and citrus fruits, saffron, almonds, and rice from the Moors), as well as its physical geography. Being surrounded by water has made seafood a Spanish staple, and the diverse inland terrain provides for a wide variety of fresh products. From the high mountain altitudes where famous Spanish ham is cured to the nutrient rich soils of the lowland where vineyards and olive orchards thrive, Spain has an excellent culinary culture that's worth exploring.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
Today is National Paella Day

Can you believe that there is such a thing as National Paella Day? The flavorful Spanish rice dish, which originated in Valencia, is being celebrated today, Wednesday, March 27th at Barraca in the West Village and at Spanish eateries all over the country. To celebrate the national day of all things paella, Barraca’s paella gurus Executive Chef Jesus Nunez and owner Hector Sanz will offer a free plate of paella with the purchase of any drink like their Tequila & Moras made with Blanco Tequila, orujo, blackberry, and rosemary syrup or any of Barraca's house-infused sangrias such as the Sangria Valencia made from rosé, Oleo saccharum “citrus oil,” grapefruit juice, vodka, and ginger. Prepared in a giant paella pan, large enough to feed up to 60 people, guests will sample the delicious Paella de Tierra tonight from 5-7pm. The Paella de Tierra is a savory blend of chicken, rabbit, pork belly, and fava beans complete with Spanish staple ingredients like saffron, sofrito, bomba rice, all cooked in a rich, flavorful stock. Check out the “Paella Manifesto” on the Barraca menu for a step-by-step guide to how traditional paella is, and should be prepared, in restaurants and at home.

BEST OF
The Local House

The Local House is a new restaurant located inside the Sense Hotel on Ocean Drive. Upon entering the restaurant, patrons are greeted with warm, welcoming colors and a modern décor, reminiscent of local Miami culture and design. When we visited, we opted for outside seating to enjoy the gorgeous South Beach weather and ambiance. This delightful restaurant was abuzz with lively patrons enjoying brunch with unlimited mimosas and culinary treats prepared by their exceptional chef, Guily Booth. The menu offers a variety of delicious, affordable tapas-style plates, making it very difficult to decide. We sampled a variety of small plates that included the Local Ceviche, Melon Citrus Salad, Bacon-wrapped Dates, Goat Cheese Croquettes, and Octopus Carpaccio. The Local Ceviche is made with grouper, red onion, cilantro, and choclo, a starchy variety of corn from South America. The grouper offered a meaty bite and was perfectly flavored with fresh ingredients, making it a great take on traditional ceviche. The Melon Citrus Salad offered more mellow flavors and was composed of assorted melon balls with feta, limejuice, and mint. The Bacon-wrapped dates were a sweet and salty treat, although a delectable spicy guava sauce and a topping ofpea shoots that accompanied the Goat Cheese Croquettes made a bold statement. These little bites of heaven proved to us that goat cheese and guava should always go together. The Octopus Carpaccio was topped with a creamy sauce, crunchy capers, diced tomatoes, a chorizo “dust”, arugula, and orange slices. The chorizo dust gave this dish a salty flavor without the overpowring heaviness that is usually associated with eating sliced chorizo. The orange slices brought a welcome bit of freshness.

RESTAURANT 101
Pamper Your Tummy at Pampano Botaneria

Latin cuisine is all the rage these days and there's no better place to enjoy it than at Pampano Botaneria. The small downstairs brother to Richard Sandoval's Pampano, this smaller, more casual half of the restaurant is the way to go. This dimly lit, romantic setting makes anyone want to hunker down for a feast. The best part of this place is that all menu items are served tapas-style...which means you don't have to pick and choose what you want, you can try everything!

DELICIOUS DEBUTS
Grand Opening Of TIKL Raw Bar & Grill

Downtown Brickell has a new kid in town today! Restauranteur Claudio Giordano, who brought us Altamare on Lincoln Road, as well as one of the most fondly-remembered Italian restaurants of the '90s, La Bussola, is venturing into the bustling business and nightlife neighborhood of Brickell with his new restaurant, TIKL Raw Bar & Grill. Focused around small plates and sharing, Chef Simon Stojanovic, the executive chef at Altamare who was nominated for Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2012, has formulated an internationally-inspired menu of tapas-style dishes that are meant to be shared. In tune with today's culinary trends, Chef Stojanovic will focus on local and seasonal products that will result in an ever-changing menu that is sure to satisfy seasoned foodies and savvy business people looking for a relaxed bite to eat. The restaurant promises an unpretentious, loungy ambiance with an industrial décor accented by steel beams, exposed concrete columns, and Old Chicago brick walls.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The Firsts Guys On The Block: 121 Fulton Street

Years of construction have plagued the South Street Sea Port neighborhood, but New Yorkers know the best finds are worth navigating through the commotion, isn’t that right New Yorkers?

Since its inception nine months ago, 121 Fulton Street has brought in the Suits and the Denim galloping through the horse carriage streets with its casual atmosphere and upscale decorum.

Guests have their choice of seating at either the bar, intimate tables for two on black leather stools, or a separate dining room. Wednesday evenings the crowd swells for the Eurocup games, the NBA Finals, and whatever your heart desires on their arsenal of televisions throughout the restaurant.

CHEAP EATS
The Times Are A Changin'...at Pampano

Richard Sandoval fans are in for a treat with the new tricks and treats going on at Pampano this summer. Along with the new season, Pampano is introducing quite a few enticing changes. They're now featuring a new tasting menu serving up fresh Mexican seasonal ingredients until June 30th. The five course tasting is only $50 per guest or $75 with the addition of Los Nahuales Mezcal or Latin wine pairing.

Pampano is also introducing fun Taco Tuesdays! Every Tuesday from 5pm until closing, the restaurant will be serving up $2 tacos, with new specialty tacos each week. But that's not all that's new. There will also be special summer Fridays at Pampano Botaneria all the way until Labor Day, where you can come start your weekend early with Happy Hour starting at 3pm. All Latin cocktails and sangrias will be $6 a piece and Mexican-style tapas are only $5.