City Pulse

By Eudie Pak

ostiaoutdoor.jpg

Image by Matt Verzola

…Throw your sangrias in da air if youse a true playa. Kekeke.

¡Hola! to all of you Spanophiles in the NYC. I had the really difficult task of reviewing this new tapas joint called Ostia in the West Village and letting you know whether it’s worth your wallet. (It ain’t easy being me.)

Before I let you in on it, it’s time for a bit of a history lesson. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with these tasty tidbits, tapas are thought to have originated in Spain’s southern Sherry-making region, where the bar owners would top off drinks with a piece of bread to keep flies out. Eventually, they started to add other yummy morsels like olives and cured ham to encourage drinking. So from very humble, practical beginnings, tapas have evolved into exciting, sexy fare. Grrrrr, chica. Grrrrr.

Any of you guys know what Ostia means? Among its many interpretations, Ostia! is a common expression in Spain which can translate as ‘heavenly delicious.’ And that was just my task – to find out if this new place could really stand up to its name.

Atmosphere
Mr. Photographer and I strutted in round 7 p.m., which was fairly early since this place caters to the late-night crowds. Interestingly, though, there were already a variety of people chompin’ away at their little bites…

There were some hipsters – ya know, the type who part their hair like an old man’s comb over and spend a fortune to look like they just jumped out of a dumpster. And then there were some older boisterous Spanish peeps who just walked in all rico-suave-like and made everyone feel at home.

Along with the dimmed lighting and gilded walls amid Spanish-house music and Argentinean rhythms, the place made for a stylishly welcoming and relaxed dining experience.

Perched next to us was this Long Island couple who kept spying on our dishes and proceeded to order the same. Copy cats. But they were nice copy cats…and smart, too, since we got the signature dishes.

The Tapas
The dishes and presentation are meant to be a cross between the modern and traditional. Here’s what we ate and my comments:

Round One: Sweet and Salty

ostia3dishes.jpg

Image by Matt Verzola

1) Da’tiles – dates wrapped in Serrano ham
Comment: Ostia!
2) Croquetas de jamà³n Serrano – golden fried ham with a French cream sauce.
Comment: Bueno (wish it was served warmer, though)
3) Degustacià³n de montaditos- five toast points sampler
Comment – Mr. Photographer thought it was the best because some of the samplers had anchovies. I no likey anchovies, but I did likey the veggie sampler.

Round Two: Spicy

ostiashrimpfries.jpg

Image by Matt Verzola

1) Gambas al vino blanco – Shrimp with garlic in white wine
Comment: If you like a fishy smell to your shrimp and enjoy the Spanish tradition of sucking the heads off these crustaceans, then go loco.
2) Mojama de atàºn – cured tuna carpaccio
Comment: The consistency had a cheese-like quality to it, but this is not to say that it wasn’t Ostia! worthy. Good stuff.
3) Patatas bravas – potato wedges lightly fried to perfection with a drizzling of alioli, a special Spanish mayonnaise made with garlic.
Comment: (In my best Borat impersonation: It’s a very nice!)

Drinks

ostiasangria.jpg

Image by Matt Verzola

Mr. Photographer and I toasted with Sangrias which I highly recommend. Not only was the presentation muy attractive, but the taste was also perfecto. The alcohol wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t too sweet, either.

Other customer faves are the Che Mojito (vodka, ginger, mint, and lime syrup) and the Espresso Boracho (espresso, kahlua, and vodka).

If you want some vino action going, Rafael Mateo, the jovial and personable manager of Ostia, hand-selected the 40 Spanish wines on the menu among the 500 he personally tasted. (I want his job).

Conclusion
I’d go again. Atmosphere is great, the fare is light and yummy, and the manager is cool.

Ostia is located at 113 Seventh Ave. South between 10th St. and Christopher St. To check out the menu online, www.ostiatapas.com.

By the by, wait for my review on Ostia’s competition, Tasca. I’ll let you know how these rivals compare!

Originally published March 2007
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