Ken Oringer Graces New York City with Toro-Finally an Exciting Tapas Restaurant
I just returned from a mind-blowing meal at Toro, the new Chelsea tapas hotspot that originated from the South End restaurant darling in Boston (I like to think it put Boston on the food map, but I need to tread cautiously with this statement). The entire experience and meal was very memorable. We sat at the back bar overlooking Chef Oringer, who calmly fired up dozens of plates like razor clams, live sea urchin, and foie gras. His demeanor was humble, friendly, and knowledgeable.
The menu is gigantic and a bit overwhelming at first, but thanks to the friendly wait staff, you should be in good hands.
How many times have you had tripe, fried blow fish, foie gras, crispy pork belly, and more all in one seating? Well that's basically Toro in a nutshell.
We tried a variety of plates, all rich in flavor, but diverse in seasoning, like the Morcilla y Callos (tripe with yellow pea stew and blood sausage). My only experience with tripe involved a rather bland Chinatown meal. Not as memorable as this dish, which is a rich stew that reminds you of what Grandma would concoct.
Make sure to try the Pez Globo (blow fish, pictured at top). Eat it like a chicken wing to avoid the bones. The North African-flavoring and meatiness of this fish stands out. And it reminds me of Founder from The Little Mermaid, but in a good way.
The Panza de Cerdo (crispy pork belly) was also delicious. This fatty delight was served with apples and rutabaga. We gobbled up every bit of succulent fat (word for the wise, don't come to Toro on a diet).
Plates like the Gambas al Ajillo (garlic shrimp) are good but doesn't quite stand out as much as the Foie Gras y Piquillo (foie gras with piquillo peppers and candied walnuts), whose plump bodies of goodness arrive on skewers that are just begging to be de-skewered and consumed.
One of the most memorable dishes was the Abalone, an entirely new sea creature to experience. Abalone is a mollusk from the scallop and snail family. It's a tad chewy and pairs perfectly with the rich brown butter sauce, crispy parsley, and homemade migas.
I'd highly recommend Toro. The wait staff was friendly and it was a trip to chat with Chef Oringer and watch him in action. He was the one who suggested we try the blow fish and tripe--two of our favorite dishes. It's fancy tapas, so your bill will add up. Each glass of wine is $12 and tapas dishes range from $6 to $15, with a few outliers like the $50 Blanco Trufles con Camarones (shirred egg with white truffles and shrimp), and the paella entrees, which range from $35-90 per person.
I left Toro with a high from a combination of the versatile richness and flavor, which was paired with an adventurous and unforgettable culinary experience like never before.
All in all, Toro truly delighted the senses.
85 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10011