A couple of boys from Beantown are braving Yankee territory to open up Toro, a Barcelona-style tapas restaurant serving up traditional and modern takes on Spains beloved small plates tradition. Chefs Jamie Bissonette and Ken Oringer open the NYC version of their Boston hit tonight at a space inside Chelsea's former Nabisco factory on 10th Avenue. They're employing the local/market-fresh approach that's become a standard line on every menu around town, using Spanish techniques and traditional dishes with ingredients found on this side of the Atlantic.
The expansive menu breaks dishes into five categories, starting with pinchos, the name for small stacks sometimes served on skewers or sticks. Here you'll find Baccala (salt cod) on toast ($7), Boquerones (white anchovies) bathed in olive oil and vinegar ($8) and Bocadillo de Erizos, a pressed sandwich with sea urchin, miso butter and pickled mustard seeds ($13). Dishes like the yellowfin crudo ($17) and mackerel tartare ($15) make up the Tapas Frias section, which also includes a selection of hams, pates and a pig's ear terrine with king crab and yuzu.
On the Tapas Calientes side, the chefs eschew chicken for the Pato Con Membrillo ($11), duck drumettes lacquered in a quince glaze and stuff their croquettes with ham and pigs head ($12). Take a seat at the dedicated Plancha bar and watch cooks prepare Pulpo (Galecian octopus with potatoes and charred onions, $14), Abalone ($24) with brown butter, parsley and migas and veggie-centric dishes like Setas ($16)—mushrooms with a farm egg, olive oil and parsley—and Zanahorias ($12), heirloom carrots with buttermilk, dill and harissa.
Finally, since we're in Spain after all, the chefs offer three varieties of paella, which can be ordered in two sizes depending on the number in your group. The Paella Valanciana ($32/65) follows the most traditional route with shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo and chicken all tucked inside Calasparra rice. The Paella de Conejo y Lumach ($30/60) combines rabbit and snail with squash and minty nepitella while the Paella de Zanahoria, Rutabega y Nabos ($27/55) ditches the meat altogether in favor of carrots, squashes and rutabegas.
Furthering the Mediterranean immersion, the 120-seat dining room includes large, arched windows throughout the space and an ivy-lined wall that brings the outdoors in. A mix of industrial touches like exposed steal columns with warm wood and brick paneling lend a contemporary vibe while dried legs of ham channel the relaxed markets and eateries of the restaurant's country of inspiration.
85 10th Avenue, (212) 691-2360; toro-nyc.com