Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Nisos, what a good suprise!

I've never heard of Nisos before. In fact, dinner here was accidental. Mr. Matzo Ball Soup and I were supposed to go to a nearby Spanish restaurant. But they don't take reservations and the wait that night was over an hour. That's too long even for me. So we wandered briefly and saw Nisos. We checked the menu (Mediterranean) and it seemed decent enough. The decor was nice from the outside. So we ventured in. The place looked nice. It was a linen table kind of place with a slightly exposed kitchen and open fresh seafood section. The place seemed a little fancier but not stuffy at all. We were comfortable. Service was attentive and adequate. The waiter gave us time when we needed and checked on us on several occasions. He did a good job. I want to make a point about the wine we had there. It was a Talus Pinot Noir from California. It was really smooth. Surprising! And it was only $32. In fact, the majority of wine list consisted of many bottles under $50. My friend and I were happy with the choice. As for the food, it was surprisingly very good. Usually when I go to places randomly, it's with a grain of salt. I don't expect much. And if a meal is just okay, I'm okay with that. But the food here was good. And we ate everything. They provided us with some bread and a tomato based dip. It was delicious! I don't eat much bread when I'm out in restaurants. I don't like to fill up before my actual meal. But I couldn't help myself this time. The dip was good. It seemed to be like tomato paste with herbs and olive oil. The combination worked very well together. Next we shared an appetizer: Grilled Calamari with anchovy sauce ($10). I'm a much bigger fan of grilled calamari than fried. When it's grilled, you can tell if the squid was actually fresh. Also, it takes much more care from the chef to make sure it's not rubbery. In this case, it wasn't at all. It was soft and tender yet still yielding a slight bite. I liked it. The sauce tasted almost like tartar sauce but much stronger. I think that's where the anchovies come in. For entrees, I ordered the Mixed Seafood Lingiuni ($22). My pasta was cooked with clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops. It was in a white clam sauce. It was a large portion. But it tasted good. The pasta was al dente. And the seafood was cooked well. None of it was rubbery or overcooked. And the sauce was decent. The pasta soaked up the flavors. He ordered the Uvetsi Thalassino ($22). It was baked pasta with orzo, mussels, calamari, scallops, and shrimp. They tie it all together in a tomato and herb sauce. This was very good. I had a taste of it and I liked it better than my dish! The flavors worked well together and it was intense (in a good way!). I think the baking really helped meld the seafood and tomato sauce. Again, the food was good and we finished everything! I was very happy with this meal, the wine, the service, and the decor. I'm glad we stumbled upon this place. It's a nice neighborhood joint serving fresh Mediterranean dishes. I would definitely go here again. Nisos 176 8th Avenue New York, NY 10011 (646) 336-8121 nisos-ny.com

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