I don’t know what is crazier or more embarrassing: the fact that I spent most weekend nights at the wild Nolita House (now Estela) when it was alive, or the fact that I hadn’t been to to the restaurant that took its place which Bon Appetit magazine named the #3 restaurant in the US until last week. Estela is loved by the media, loved by the neighborhood and loved by everyone that steps foot inside. You’ll forget in no time that a bartender used to spray a fire extinguisher at wee hours in the night over the kids. The menu is laid out in an interesting way as it’s a bit unclear at first glance if dishes are appetizers, entrees or plainly just meant for sharing all around (although we should always share). It seems that chef really offers one of everything, yet it’s not traditional American dishes that you’d crave – that is until you’ve tried them. There is no chicken, no burger, no red sauce pasta, nor any side dishes. The menu forces you to branch out and order a few things you might not otherwise try.
The beef tartare with Sunchoke is quite dandy, yet the Ricotta Dumplings need more cheerleaders over there. This is 100% one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had and probably better than any gnocchi on the market. The mushrooms, not too rich broth and pecorino sardo blow your mind and your palette. It’s perfect for sharing and there are plenty of pillowy lovers to go around for two or three people. I think this is the definition of comfort food and can lift anyone up off the floor when needed.
I also loved the Scallops with greens and lardo. While the plate looks small, the amount of scallops are a plenty. For two of us, we each got 3 or 4 nice sizes and boy, are they tender as can be. I loved the apple slice addition as well. It’s almost like a little scallop salad and something I’d be down for weekly for sure.
It’s clear why Estela was named one of the best new restaurants of 2014. The space is cozy yet sexy, the food doesn’t miss a beat and you feel comfortable, relaxed and like nothing else in the world can ruin your night while you are here. Estela is special and you’ll understand why as soon as you claim your seat at the bar or a table. Don’t wait as long as I did to get yourself here because this will immediately join your rotation of favorite weekly spots.