Magazine article The New Yorker

Pampano

Magazine article The New Yorker

Pampano

Article excerpt

209 E. 49th St. (212-751-4545)--You'd think that of the three tenors, Pavarotti would be the one with the restaurant, but instead it's Placido Domingo, opening for the third time, next door to Smith & Wollensky. His first engagement there, Domingo's, lasted five years, but the encore closed in just two weeks, so this time around the famous name is off the marquee and the portrait of the restaurateur as El Cid has been replaced by sandy-white walls with seashell-and-palm-tree bas-reliefs. More faux palms, woven into fans, rotate lazily overhead. The waiters wear guayabera shirts; the setting is now, someplace by the sea.

The seafood menu, under the direction of Richard Sandoval, of Maya, is strictly upper-class Mexican, a refined mestizo blend with traditional elements, like tomatillo salsas and chile pastes, interpreted lightly. There's a guacamole to start, but the smoked marlin provides a more seaworthy and adventuresome dip. The tuna ceviche (closer to a sushi in salsa than a true citrus ceviche) comes with mango and a hint of chile poblano, and the lobster tacos, in perhaps the finest performance in a seafood appetizer this season, balance black-bean puree and a smoky chile de arbol salsa in dark counterpoint to the lobster chunks and avocado shavings. …

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