NYC Restaurants

Alta
64 West 10th St (bet. Fifth and Sixth Aves)
New York, NY, 10011
(212) 505-7777 Map

Cuisine: Italian , Mediterranean

Menu:   View the Menu

Reader Ratings:

Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Cititour Review:
Step inside Alta and you are instantly transported from West
10th Street to an old taverna somewhere on a dusty countryside road in the Basque country. This new-ish Mediterranean tapas joint, owned by Christopher Chestnut, the man behind El Teddys in Tribeca, groans with charming rusticity from its thick raw beams, Portuguese tiled floors, wrought iron chandeliers lit with votive candles, and saffron clay walls.

But one of my favorite things about Alta was what I discovered written in a box at the end of the long yellow menu that includes 35 dishes ranging from tapas, to salads, small plates and fish and meat entrees. The box reads: "THE WHOLE SHEBANG: That's right folks, everything on the menu, desserts not included, for $275. Recommended for large groups of 6 or more, or less if you have really big appetites."


We started with lots of tapas, and found hits and misses. The lamb meatballs, soft little orbs flavored with orange ($5) were not so great—they were served with shaved fennel that lacked any flavor at all, and a tiny little teaspoon of lebne (Middle Eastern yogurt sauce). But the boquerones—lovely pungently marinated white anchovies, with fat sweet cherry tomatoes and sliced hard-boiled quail eggs drizzled with a horseradish mayo—were delicious ($8). The smoked eggplant dip though tasted like liquid smoke, and not much else, so I would resist that dish. But do not skip the "fork-crushed and fried" red bliss potatoes—golden, greaseless, and crisped—that were topped with a cold smoked trout crème fraiche ($6.00). Taking a bite of the hot fried potatoes topped with the creamy, cool smoked trout was like a plunge into a cold lake on a scorcher of a summer day.


Truly though, nothing compared to the pot of caramelized cauliflower tossed with manila clams, chorizo and golden raisins ($8). We all observed a moment of silence after a first bite. All the elements—the lemony cauliflower, tender but firm; the briny, meaty clams, the spicy bits of chorizo, the shower of shaved almonds—tease and please every taste bud. Brilliant.


I know it sounds a bit hedonistic, but we also shared some spiced hanger steak kebabs with cherry tomatoes and tzaziki ($11.50)—very charred and juicy-tender on the inside. We also tried the hake—a glossy sort of cod—served with artichokes and tangerines, caper and lemon juice ($13) that was silky, light and very delicate. Then we put down our forks and declared the meal, and us, done.


Is all the food at Alta terrific? No. Is most of it? Yes. Plus, it's fun, it's lively, and it's got that thing that every restaurant needs that you can't put your finger on—it's that life force, like chemistry in a relationship—an energy that makes a place work. Plus, you can order THE WHOLE SHEBANG.

Review By: Andrea Strong

Neighborhood: Greenwich Village


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