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Novo Restaurant

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Novo Restaurant

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Address: 290 Hudson Street
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10013
Phone: (212) 989-6410
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: Latin America
Area: SoHo
Entree Price: $10-15


Review:

As the days of the simple three-course dinner continue to fade into oblivion, Novo, an appealing Latino eatery that recently opened a stone’s throw from the Holland Tunnel, takes the so-many-choices, so-little time concept one step beyond. Chef Giovanni Ventura has divided his tapas-like menu into seven categories of dishes (all priced between $8-$12), most of which are smallish, but still designed for sharing. So give yourself an extra 15 minutes just to navigate and discuss the menu. At the moment, though, you won’t have to spend any time perusing the wine or cocktail list, since the restaurant is awaiting its liquor license (due later this month). Right now, the BYOB policy is a big hit, as we saw diners bringing copious amounts of vino to accompany their meals. And though you don’t realize it immediately, you won’t have to think about dessert either. The house’s policy is simply to present diners with a complimentary sweet treat at the end of the meal -- which will change monthly. (We were told March’s finale will be a coconut macaroon). Frankly, they would do just as well to end the meal with the delicious chocolate-flecked roll that starts the proceedings. As for the main event, a couple of the smaller dishes and one of the heartier ones per person will suffice. The ceviches are the don’t-miss starter; we were quite taken with both firm lobster in a marinade of lime, orange juice, horseradish and pickled jalapeno, and the delicious octopus enlivened by lime, mint, and cucumber. The kitchen’s sure hand with seafood was also in evidence with perfectly prepared shrimp in a zesty but not overpowering garlic sauce, and the excellent seared tuna that sat atop a fresh-as-can-be mound of arugula in a mustard-tangerine emulsion. However, the montaditos did no justice to yellowtail; in fact, the dish turned out to be an odd variation on a tuna salad sandwich. The heartier dishes are divided into three categories: tallarines (pastas), a la plancha (grilled meats), and arroces (rice with proteins), and the ones we sampled were quite filling. My grilled duck breast, perfectly rare, was so delicious that I wish I had tried at least one more plancha – there are nine choices in all – especially the short ribs. Instead, I opted to sample them in the andrajos, where shredded pieces of the tender beef were the main ingredient in a disappointing ragu that sat atop wide noodles. As for the arroces, which require diners to choose one of four rices and pair it with one of four proteins, we took our waitress’ suggestion to combine the saffron-pimento rice with the adobo chicken. My dining companion and I both found the dish a tad too salty, but I was still quite pleased with the creaminess of the rice. With its long, narrow banquettes and a large communal table up front, Novo is an excellent choice for group dinners, especially since you can have great fun experimenting with the menu. And for those always seeking something new, Novo hits the spot.

Review By: Brian Scott Lipton


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