BOLD AND BRIGHT NoMa Social, in the Radisson Hotel, has a nightclub feel, with white vinyl banquettes and globe lighting.
To get a bead on NoMa Social, the young hot spot in the newly refurbished Radisson Hotel, in New Rochelle, you might want to start with a special appetizer called Farm Egg in Purgatory. A little bit ironic, and deliriously good, the dish involves a poached egg floating in a fiery, basil-laden tomato brodetto, with brittle grilled toast as a means of getting at it. If you’re foolish enough to pass it around, you may never see it again.
To put that dish in context: it was served in an environment rife with purple sofas, zebra-striped rugs, houndstooth draperies, white vinyl banquettes, flashy globe lighting, curvaceous orchids and, curiously, rows of vintage books. If Barbie and Ken had a restaurant, it might look like this.
The menu has a Spanish bent.
Octopus al la plancha.
Photos: Karsten Moran for The New York Times
NoMa Social — “NoMa” stands for North of Manhattan — is either a fabulous club with a standout restaurant, or the other way around, depending on your agenda (there is also a well-oiled publicity machine: cast members from the reality television show “Mob Wives” were present for the grand opening, in April, and a summer solstice event was hosted by cast members of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and Francine Tesler, the “psychic to the stars”). In terms of square footage, the bar and lounge dominate, and the sangria flows freely, but it would be a shame not to focus for a minute on the food.
The executive chef, Bill Rosenberg, who owned F.I.S.H. in Port Chester (now closed), and once oversaw the kitchen at Barcelona, in Greenwich, seems to be having a ton of fun making tapas and other little fireball appetizers (a variety of daily specials shows his creative streak). He also makes an excellent wood-fired pizza (we ordered the “NoMa style,” with sweet sausage, shrimp and hot cherry peppers), and a gorgeous, high altitude burger on brioche with fries. His is perfect party food, and guests oblige by arriving in a party mood.
Mr. Rosenberg’s menu is loosely Mediterranean, tipping toward Spain. Tapas shine; we liked the shrimp seasoned with marsala and chili flakes; the luscious little slabs of skirt steak with pico salsa and crisp potato twigs; the tiny meatballs in a rich tomato ragù; the snappy fried calzone filled with sweet ricotta in a pumpkinseed pesto; and tender bites of grilled octopus. Two specials were splendid: grilled halloumi cheese with a flavor-packed fig jam, and a pungent mix of sautéed mushrooms with smoky paprika, spring onions and a poached egg. The only tapa that didn’t click was a pair of Maryland crab cakes (not crabby enough, although they shared the plate with a very good celery-root rémoulade).
Two salads were tailor-made for sweltering days: wisps of peppery arugula with sweet Eckerton Hill Farms cherry tomatoes, tiny cubes of fresh mozzarella, bright vinegar and a nice lick of garlic; and roasted beets with the same spicy arugula, fresh orange, pistachios and sherry vinaigrette.
The excitement over small plates and salads did not extend to second courses. Because Mr. Rosenberg had made a splash at F.I.S.H. with seafood, we ordered zuppe di pesce, which held a trove of shellfish, all of it woefully overcooked. On a second visit, we ordered paella valenciana, and this time the seafood was well handled, but the rice was cooked to the point of mushiness (and because paella must be ordered for two, it was doubly disappointing, and left us wishing we had ordered the whole roasted branzino or the grilled lamb chops). A special of hand-rolled trofie pasta with guanciale, shallots, peas, egg and parmigiano — a variation on carbonara — was so rich that a bite or two sufficed.
Desserts were great one night (airy tortoni cream cake with bountiful whipped cream and toasted almonds; a smooth, cooling caramel flan), and mediocre another (rubbery warm chocolate cake; dull Key lime cheesecake; a tough little apple tart). Instead of dessert, you might want to seek out a wing chair and settle in with a postprandial drink — chances are, the fun will just be starting.
NoMa Social 1 Radisson Plaza New Rochelle (914) 576-4141 nomasocial.com
Rating: WORTH IT
THE SPACE Spacious restaurant, bar and lounge in a newly renovated Radisson Hotel, with retro globe lighting, racy fabrics and lots of low-slung seating. Can be noisy, especially late. A sign directs patrons to enter through an outdoor smoking area, landscaped with cigarette butts; you may also enter through the spiffy hotel lounge.
THE CROWD Hotel guests mingle with foodies and fun seekers. Super-friendly staff members wear NoMa T-shirts. Live entertainment Friday and Saturday.
THE BAR Full-service bar, with a roster of designer cocktails. A pitcher of sangria with five “tastes,” or tapas, is $50. Short, serviceable wine list; by the glass, try the strawberry-inflected 2011 Artazuri grenache rosé ($8) or the brisk 2011 Nisia verdejo from Jorge Ordonez ($10).
THE BILL “Tastes” and tapas, $4 to $11. Wood-fired pizzas, $10 to $14. Salads, $10 to $12. Entrees, $16 to $33. Desserts, $7. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover are accepted.
WHAT WE LIKED Farm Egg in Purgatory (special), shrimp with toasted garlic and Marsala, skirt steak with pico salsa, octopus al la plancha, mushrooms with poached egg and smoked paprika (special), grilled halloumi cheese with fig jam (special), cherry-tomato salad (special), beet salad, NoMa wood-fired pizza, burger with blue cheese and bacon, tortoni cream cake, caramel flan.
IF YOU GO Monday through Thursday, noon to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 3 a.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. Reservations accepted. Ample parking in hotel lot.