Of The Week
Pimenton Intrigues With Food And Wine Of Spain
Housed in a comfortable brownstone in the shadow of the towering Citicorp Building in Long Island City, Pimenton Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar opened just two months ago to the delight of this burgeoning neighborhood. Owner Manuel Vicente, whose family hails from Galicia in northwestern Spain, and his partner, Robert Perez, have set out to fulfill a dream of offering authentic tapas and entrees from Spain to New Yorkers hungry for this seductive cuisine. Having spent some time in Spain, I can tell you that Pimenton offers the real thing.
Warm yourself by the cozy stone fireplace and then the friendly staff will seat you at a comfortable table. Only premium Spanish wines, brandies, liqueurs and ports are served, and Vicente mixes fabulous half and full carafes of homemade sangria to order.
Vicente often prepares many dishes also. Tapas are small portions of the delectable dishes served throughout Spain, and a diner can sample several varieties in one evening. Pimenton has the best array of tapas in New York. They’re available from noon to 10 p.m., starting at just $4.50, so stop in any time for a light meal and a glass of wine.
We sampled several of Pimenton’s hot and cold tapas, starting with warm white bean and chorizo stew. Chorizo sausage lends a smoky note to this soul-satisfying dish, which is especially good when soaked up with crusty bread. Savory Serrano ham croquettes are tender and delicately flavored, as is the sliced tenderloin of pork. Sweet and savory sautéed dates wrapped in ham are quite a treat.
The cuisine of Spain relies heavily on seafood and fish and Pimenton offers a host of tantalizing choices. Tender octopus are dusted with ground, powdered pimenton pepper. Diver scallops are baked in their shells to retain all their flavors and juices. Shrimp grilled with sea salt is extra special here. I plan to go back for the New Zealand mussels in Spanish wine and saffron broth ($4.75).
The wait staff was helpful in making suggestions as we tried to decide on which cold tapas to try. We loved the northern Spanish tuna with wood-roasted peppers, and no Spanish meal is complete without boquerones, delicate, marinated anchovies. In Spain the word tortilla means an omelet, in tapas bars often served by the slice at room temperature. Tender, white asparagus spears are served with zesty vinaigrette, and grilled eggplant is cooked with onion and caramelized garlic. All the dishes mentioned come from the tapas menu.
Full dinner entrees are available as well. Start with a steaming bowl of Galician soup replete with white beans, broccoli rabe and smoked pork. Salad Nevat tosses goat cheese, figs, crisp Serrano ham, walnuts and tomato and is drizzled with fine truffle oil and sherry vinaigrette for a unique taste. The entrée menu also features fish dishes such as seared tuna on a bed of tender fava beans ($15.95). Red snapper filet is baked with onion, shallots and tomato. Classic arroz con pollo, scented with saffron and flavored with smoky chorizo, is perfect for two. Two diners can also share traditional paella, a rice dish cooked with chicken, shrimp, clams, scallops, mussels and even lobster, if you wish. Veal scalloppine sautéed in Rioja wine with ginger and garlic is out of this world.
Don’t leave without dessert—there are plenty to choose among. Aside from traditional flan, a vanilla egg custard, crema Catalana, a type of Spanish crème brulee, topped with caramelized sugar, is also available. Vanilla ice cream is topped with vanilla bean syrup and glazed chestnuts for a special treat and poached pears flavored with red wine and a touch of cinnamon are simply delicious. Torrijas, slices of bread dipped in a sweet egg batter then fried until golden, resemble French toast, only they’re better! Don’t forget to pair your dessert with an after-dinner cordial such as Jerez brandy and a cup of rich espresso.
You’ll need to visit several times to experience the wonderful variety of tapas, entrees and desserts at Pimenton, where the atmosphere is cozy and comfortable. The restaurant’s second floor allows for additional romantic dining or a private party of up to 40 people. In warm weather, a delightful outdoor garden will open so diners can enjoy this Mediterranean cuisine al fresco.
Make your Valentine’s Day reservations now at this romantic restaurant. The ambience, food, wine, and music of Spain will seduce you and your special date. Pimenton is open for lunch, tapas and dinner, Monday through Friday. Dinner and tapas are served on Saturdays from 5:30 to 11p.m, but Pimenton is closed Sundays. Credit cards are accepted. Parking is a snap in the evenings. Remember to call now for Valentine’s Day and impress your loved one with the great food and wine at Pimenton.
21-50 44th Dr.
Long Island City