Magazine article The New Yorker

Casa Mono

Magazine article The New Yorker

Casa Mono

Article excerpt

52 Irving Pl. (212-253-2773)--Andy Nusser, the executive chef and co-owner (with Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Selzer) of this tiny tapas-inspired restaurant, has a fascination with arcane offal. Perhaps it's the legacy of Babbo, where Nusser spent five years and where tripe and sweetbreads are so common that they are scarcely worth mentioning. But even the most jaded thrill-seeker will be impressed by the cockscombs at Casa Mono. Their texture--halfway between osso buco and jello--might put off some diners, but the persuasive preparation, a rich reduction of red wine and cepas (Spanish porcini), transcends mere novelty. (The combs themselves are recognizable, with spiky crenellations that make one imagine Foghorn Leghorn wildly clutching his scalp.) There are plenty of unintimidating Spanish dishes, too, such as bacalao croquettes (here served with orange-tinged aioli) and pan con tomate. Among a pleasing selection of dishes designated "a la plancha" (a kind of Spanish griddle), the octopus--two baby specimens on a bier of fennel and grapefruit--is a standout. …

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