Returning to New Jersey from Stamford, Connecticut, we stopped for lunch at NoMa Social Restaurant, a restaurant and night spot at the Radisson Hotel, in New Rochelle, New York.
NoMa stands for “North of Manhattan” and is a trendy environment of purple sofas, pink and white patterned chairs, white vinyl banquettes, zebra-striped rugs, equestrian images and horse-head sculptures on the wall, and rows of vintage books and sculptured book-ends. While we were there, the noon-crowd was mostly late twenty- and thirty- something diners having Hamburgers, Wood-Fired Pizzas and a variety of Market Green Salads.
The menu is seriously delicious. Executive Chef Bill Rosenberg has embraced the foods of the Mediterranean, and scrumptious Spanish culinary preparations and variations on that theme are a large part of what is offered. On the libations side, the wine list, though limited, is much more international and so is the beers’ list. Actually, artisanal beers like Blue Moon and Captain Lawrence are on tap together with Bass Ale and Guinness; the bottled beer list starts with Coors Light and Budweiser and continues with Corona, Heineken, Amstel Light, Moretti, Peroni, Estrella, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and numerous others. Sangria in six variations - three white and three red – seem to be favored by many. Cocktails were also very popular, both new concoctions created by mixologists that dominate the New York City bar scene, and classics from the 20s and 30s.
But for us the small dishes, named “Tastes” and “Tapas” were the main attraction. The food is first-rate. In Spain, tapas are bite sized morsels of food on a piece of bread, served with a drink at a bar; what is presented in this menu is what would be called “raciones”, a larger portion of tapas, big enough for two or three to share.
We had eleven selections from the menu and two off the menu, washed down with Blue Moon beer – and in my mind it was 20 years back, in Madrid’s Huertas district, sitting at Cerveceria Alemana, one of the quintessential tapas taverns on Plaza de Santa Ana.
From the Tastes: Two dishes were outstanding. The Baby Artichoke, with basil aioli; and the Boquerones, white marinated anchovies steeped in white vinegar, herbs and garlic (in Murcia, a classic tapa is called Matrimonio - i.e. marriage - a white boquerón and an oil-cured salty anchovy on a piece of baguette). The Patatas Bravas were nice but not exceptional.
From the Tapas: The Shrimp, cooked in a Marsala wine sauce, with toasted garlic; the Meatballs, a blend of veal/beef/pork in a tomato ragoût, more of a Neapolitan taste than Spanish albóndigas; the yummy Croquetas, made from ham and cheese in a lemon/pepper aioli; a spicy Beef Empanada in a pepper coulis; Pizza Rustico, an empanada-like stuffed pasty with a ricotta, salami, prosciutto and pepperoni mix; Octopus Diavolo, in a paste of chile-toasted garlic and bread crumbs; and pungent Exotic Mushrooms, cooked with spring onions, smoky pimenton and a farm egg.
Off the menu were Pâté de Foie Gras with whole grain mustard and shredded beets, and deep fried Brussels Sprouts with sea salt.
We were too full to taste the mostly Spanish cheeses (Valdeon, Manchego, Tetilla, Drunken Goat) or the cured meats - Jamon Serrano from Spain, Speck from Italy’s Alto Adige, Capicola from Brooklyn, smokey Cantimpalo from Spain and Finocchino (fennel-spiced sausage) from California.
At the table next to us, they were having a great looking salad made with chunks of Watermelon, Arugula, Red Onion, Mint Leaves, Olives and Crumbled Feta in a Red Wine Vinaigrette with the Mixed Grill platter (for two).
We enjoyed our lunch very much. Thank you Chef Rosenberg for a meal that was tasty, filling, and most of all, very pleasurable.
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