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Casa Mono

Spanish Tapas & whole organic animals

$$$

A pricey ($30-60) spanish / tapas restaurant with organic meat options in (17th St & 18th St) (East 20's-14th (Flatiron)) with date night offerings.

Daily: 12pm-12am

212 253-2773

www.casamononyc.com/

52 Irving Pl.

(17th St & 18th St)

Review By Megan Murphy

The sole Spanish effort in the Batali-Bastianich Italian restaurant empire, Casa Mono has been a popular destination for authentic Catalan fare since it opened in '04. Mosaic tiles and wine bottles decorate this tiny, bustling taperia off of Union Square which offers bold-flavored small plates and entrées prepared mostly "a la plancha" (on the grill). Cozy up to one of the communal tables or sit at the bar to experience the grilling action first hand.

Chef Andy Nusser crafts a dynamic menu featuring seasonal produce, locally-caught sustainable fish, and organic grass-fed meats. Start with the signature “Ensalada Mono”, a lightly dressed mound of slivered frisée flanked by thin Manchego cheese wedges and bacon sprinkles. A side of grilled artichoke hearts with mint and precisely prepared duck confit seized in zesty pepita mole with pickled celery, invited sharing among the table.

Seafood makes a strong showing, as in the seared scallop trio and Fideos-cut angel hair pasta tossed with spicy chorizo and manila clams. Adventurous eaters can delight in offal offerings (such as sweetbreads, beef tongue and cockscombs), though the meal’s meat standout was the leg oflamb cazuela (Spanish for “cooking pot”)—a hearty bowl of tender, smoky lamb chunks, plump apricots and thick Moroccan spiced sauce, which begged to be sopped up with bread.  Additional tempters include a seasonal sorbetto, Spanish cheeses and one of the city’s first and most extensiveall-Spanish wine lists.

The host asked guests to leave their tables after dining, offering to transfer drinks to the bar or adjacent Bar Jamon. While there are limited seats and a tight reservation policy, this was slightly off-putting. However, with the vibrant food and atmosphere, it’s understandable why patrons would want to spend a while in this casa.