From Plaza to Bullpen, Toro’s Menu at Harry’s Pizzeria is Live & Kickin’

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 10.29.56 AM

ERIZOS CON CAVIAR: Layers of caviar, sea urchin, quail egg, and Jamon Iberico consumed in three seconds flat linger long and luscious on the lengua at TORO NYC. Uni makes an appearance on its pizzeria menu next Tuesday at Harry’s.

It was around 10:00 p.m. on a mild October night when we walked west through Chelsea toward its perimeter highway on the Hudson.  The sun had long set into Manhattan’s stalagmite forest, and we were full of good food and great wine after a dinner with friends on Lemon: NYC eve.  Word on the wind was a newly-opened restaurant had the perfect remedy for restlessness in the tradition of Spain, Boston-bred and throwing its hat into the ring due south.  Two chefs were ready to dance that delicate, precise number necessary to entrance the king of bulls, and we were there to greet them.  Backward it may seem, but the call made perfect sense.  It was time for tapas.

To their credit, Mr. Oringer and Mr. Bissonnette do not cook as if they are in a huge restaurant. Toro’s food isn’t stagy or gimmicky; it’s honest and thoughtful, and it can feel a bit lost in this space. There are times when eating tapas here is like watching card tricks at Yankee Stadium.

As The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells concluded his two star review of Toro in New York City on December 31, this coliseum to a supercharged Catalan cuisine is vast and formidable, unlike its sibling to the north.  An arena perhaps where only this pair could command the presence, focus and certain no sé lo que needed to orchestrate the crowd in their favor, not get lost in it. That’s exactly what we encountered on our first visit.  Ken was behind Toro’s food bar in the back, and we found Jamie on the hotline in its underbelly down the hall, a passageway of winding guts the likes of a grand hotel’s commissary kitchen. The chefs were having fun, the dining room was electric and wanted more of where it all was coming from. So did we.

Édouard Manet (1832–1883) "Stierkampf" 1865-1866, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay Paris

Édouard Manet (1832–1883) “Stierkampf” 1865-1866, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay

On Tuesday, January 21, one week from today, we offer our bullpen in Miami’s Design District for a Toro spectacle, concentrated, up close and personal.  So here is what’s for dinner, food finalized this past weekend with the chefs and drink, yesterday, with Eric Larkee and the kind folks at Vibrant Rioja. The wines they chose are perfect examples of both old school and modern winemaking that characterize the region today.

Safe travels to the Ken and Jamie, salute to us, and see you next week! Tickets include it all (Jamie got new tees banged out just for us!) and can be purchased here.

Toro Pizzeria
Harry’s Welcomes Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette
Tuesday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Welcome Cocktail
Florida Kumquat Gimlet

Beef Heart Bruschetta  chives, lemon, romesco, sourdough 
Chicken Liver Stuffed Sage Leaves  tempura
Maize Asado con Cotija Pizza  roasted corn, Spanish aioli, espelette 
Oysters Escabeche  cranberry verjus and horseradish 

Bocadillo di Uni  uni, miso butter, pickled mustard seeds
Tomato Salad  mint green goddess, crab, purple basil

Wood Oven Octopus  charred onion vinaigrette
Roasted Romanesco Catalan  raisins and pine nuts

Wood Oven New York Strip  onion marmalade
Florida Shrimp Paella  sun chokes and black garlic

Churros con Chocolate  smoked maple and bee pollen sugar

To Drink
Lopez de Haro Rosado 2012
Marques de Caceres Blanco 2012
Vina Herminia Crianza 2010
Contino Reserva 2007