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ONCE & FOR ALL..THE BEST PAELLA & SANGRIA?

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  • Steve Nov 28, 2000 09:17 PM
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Okay..fellow chowhounds, it's my birthday next week and I am in search for the BEST PAELLA and SANGRIA. I have had it at Sevilla in the Village many times, and it's good there, but I am looking for the best. I read through the search for paella, and a few people mentioned Solera...what other suggestions are out there? Also, my wife thinks we should go to an upscale Gramery Tavern type place for dessert only afterwards...any other desert suggestions would be appreciated too...

thankyou!!!

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  1. THE best paella? Two words. Maz Mazcal (86th b/w 1st and 2d).

    It says on the menu that it takes 45 minutes for it, but the wait is well worth every second. By far the best rendition I've had (chock full of seafood, chicken and chorizo and the rice is unbelievably smooth). I can't say the sangria is anything more than average, but their margaritas are potent and they just redid the bar area and expanded.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dan-o

      The best? tough question. The best I've had was in the Basque region in Spain, but here in the USA? I'll say El Cid..
      Their Sangria is sublime as well.
      Try the Anguilla app. to start.

    2. There is no decent Spanish food in Manhattan. Get thee to Newark.

      Casa Vasca would be my choice.

      Jason

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jason Perlow

        I like a place called "Spanish Sangria" It's on the corner of Magazine and Rome St. Also in Newark.

        1. re: Michele

          Agreed. As one who has lived in the metro area for my entire life and tried my fair share of places in all of the boroughs, I can tell you that you haven't had Portugese/Spanish until you've been to Newark. Spanish Tavern has the best garlic shrimp I've ever had. Iberia and Iberian peninsula are excellent as well. Order the paella and you' ll be taking home your leftovers in buffet pans--

          1. re: Michele

            Rachel and I went to Spanish Sangria this evening -- thanks for the recommendation. Its a solid Spanish restaurant, to be sure.

            Unlike Casa Vasca (which remains my favorite) Spanish Sangria is apparently is still primarily a local haunt -- the place has little ambiance at all, but obviously thats not why people go there. Parking is strictly street, most people park around the corner under a highway overpass. The restaurant is in the industrial part of Ironbound, unlike Casa Vasca which is in a residental neighborhood and has its own parking lot. Not exactly the most charming part of town (it looks like something out of the Sopranos) but apparently someone does watch your car. Another plus about Spanish Sangria is that its a huge restaurant, and according to the patrons the place doesnt get too packed even on saturday nights -- and again unlike Casa Vasca, which you might have to wait up to a half an hour in the smoky bar waiting for a table.

            You start off with a complimentary bowl of soup, on sundays apparantly you get the Galician soup, which is an escarole/bean thing in a chicken broth with potatoes and a little bit of ham in it. It wasnt too salty, very tasty, great start. For appetizer we ordered the spanish chorizo , a very generous portion of thinly sliced pork sausage that was sauteed very simply in a pan, with not too much oily residue and had a nice crispness to it -- excellently prepared and great quality meat. We actually ended up sharing some with a couple at an adjoining table, who had the garlic mushrooms and gave us some of theirs in exchange -- again, huge appetizer portion. The mushrooms were just plain white mushrooms, but they were absolutely mind-blowing in their garlicyness and it had exactly the right amount of oil. Both these apps went great with the fresh dinner rolls.

            Main courses -- I had the camarrones ajillo (shrimp with garlic sauce) and Rachel had the pollo ajillo (chicken in garlic sauce) -- our two benchmark dishes for testing out Spanish/Portuguese places. Shrimps were excellent, very garlicy, medium sized, butterflied, and broiled in a "plancha" pan wih oil which we were very happy to sop up with the bread. Rachel's dish was similar but chicken peices that were flash-fried, then sauteed in the garlic and oil. Chicken meat was -slightly- overdone, rachel said it didnt quite have enough garlic compared to the shrimp but I liked it well enough. The fried potatoes (papa frita) were sliced just to the right thickness and were nice and crispy -- if a restaurant blows this, I dont go back (Fornos of Newark=NO! Abort mission!). Yellow rice was good but I dont think it was saffron rice, probably tumeric -- too yellow.

            The real signature dish of the house, which we found out due to its dramatic presentation, was the shrimp in wine sauce, which consists of jumbo shrimps in a sizzling platter in a wine/garlic sauce. I know this sounds like a real basic dish, but when we saw the waiters carry this to the next table we immediately both said "this is what I am ordering next time!". The odor wafting down our way defied description, it smelled that good.

            We of course had the namesake sangria, although we had the white stuff and not the red. Very fruity, very boozy, definitely want to try the red the next time.

            We bypassed coffee and dessert and went (per recoommendation of our dining companions at the table next to us) to TEIXEIRA's bakery, where we had some phenomenally good cappucino (with real whipped cream!) and brought home some killer cheesecake and cannoli. The place was easy to find cause you can smell the bread baking WAY down the street. The place appeared to have great rolls and sweet portuguese bread too.

            A successful evening, to be sure.

        2. i have not been to Maz Mazcal.

          My best Paellas have come from La Paella on 9th street bet. 3rd and 2nd aves. They do it in a shallow dish and and broil the top, which in my opinion is how it should be done. You get that nice layer of crispy rice sticking to the pan.

          There are several varieties of Paella, and lots of tapas to chose from, but the sangria is quite ordinary.

          The room is nice, but small, and the service is good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: keith k

            I have to strongly disagree with that place. I had there paella and when we got it, it was mostly squid. We mentioned this to the server and they pretty much said tough take it or leave it. I think it was late and maybe they ran out of the other ingredient but no one gave us any explanation either. That was the first and last time we went there. It WAS when they first opened so perhaps it's changed. BUT as they say you are only as good as your last meal.

          2. according to the rules of this site i am telling you now that i supervise several restaurants in the new york area.

            that said, in response to your post about paella and sangria i can tell you this. the best paella i have had in the city and keep in mind that three of my restaurants serve it, would have to be el faro down town on greenwich st.

            they don't take reservations and it get's very crowded but it's worth the wait.

            as far as the sangria question, my impartial opinion is that we do some of the best sangria at our places. since the rules prohibit any direct advertising or plugging, you can email me directly and i'll gladly give you the particulars.

            incidently, our paella is excellent, but doesn't quite match up to el faro.

            1. no one mentioned sevilla on charles street?! that is in my opinion the best place for paella. the sangria is pretty good also.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob

                I did mention Sevilla in my post saying I have been there many many times, but was looking for better...It looks like we are going to try El Faro on greenwich, as this sounds like an interesting post, will write back and report after we go and let you know all the particulars...Still waiting for some dessert suggestions, my time is running out.....thanks chowhounds!

              2. The best Paella in the world (including spain) can be had at Majorca in Pittsburgh. It is worth the 6 hour drive just to eat the paella and drive back. I understand they are opening a second location in Phila. I will keep you posted.

                1. Hello Chowhounds,

                  Wanted to get you my report of my birthday dinner excursion. My wife and I went to El Faro in the West Village as suggested by one of the posts. A very mysterious looking place, looks like a little dive you would see an independent movie shot in. Very old world looking and quite tiny place. We ordered pitcher of Sangria, the sangria was nothing much, and had no fruit to speak of, so I was certainly not impressed by it by any means. The Sangria at Sevilla or Pio Pio in Queens in much much better. We were served a small little generic dinner salad, but the dressing was a bit spicy, so it was okay. I ordered the Paella with Seafood (full of Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Mussels) very large portion, and truly delicious and wonderfully seasoned, and seafood ultra fresh. My wife ordered the Shrimp in Green Sauce. Everything seemed fine, until I looked over and saw my wife lifting a very long hair out of her shrimp and sauce, and her expression was becoming quite dazed. I immediately called the host who sat us as he was standing closeby, and I quietly pointed to my wife's plate, and she sort of lifted the hair on her fork, but she was still in her speechless mode. Anyway, the host couldn't have been nicer, and immediately said, Oh I see the hair there, I am terribly sorry, I have them wearing hats in the kitchen, but sometimes it can happen..I will immediately get another on the stove for you, and I am very sorry. My wife began to speak again as the offending plate was removed from her, and she said thankyou, I appreciate it. At this point, I am thinking this birthday might not be so good, but my wife was a very good sport, and spared me a panic attack. When the new dish arrived, she devoured it, and said it was great, and hoped noone had spit in it, or otherwise. I also had some of it as well, and have to agree that it was really good. Full of alot of shrimp, some smallish, but plenty medium sized and very flavorful and cooked just right. Their green sauce was a much heavier and denser version, richer tasting, than Sevilla's, which is much more olive oil and wine like with alot of parsley and garlic. But, this was very good. Now, my wife really wanted to take me for dessert at Gramercy Tavern. We walked in the freezing cold around the Village for a bit, so we could work up an apetite for more chow as we were stuffed from dinner. Made it up to Gramercy Tavern at about 10:15. My wife went in while I parked, and asked if it was okay if we could just have dessert. The maitre de was so wonderfully nice, and kind, and said yes, and was so helpful in explaining that there was a 45 min wait for the Tavern front area, where there were less dessert choice and they were $8.50 each, or we could eat in the main dining room, where there were more of a selection and they were $10 each and we could get in right away. We took the main dining room. Unbelievably nice and sweet waitress helped us. My wife told them it was my birthday and they wrote happy birthday in choclate syrup on one of the desert plates. Very sweet touch. We had a apple tart dessert which completely blew us away, it was beyond incredible. It has such a combination of flavors accompanying it. The other dessert was a chocolate and caramel tart with caramel ice cream. They were both works of art, and the flavors exceptional. I also had the most amazing hot apple cider, and my wife had a PERFECT cappucino. We were just thrilled, wonderful atmosphere, and just perfect dessert. Can't wait to have an excuse to go back again. It was a real special treat for us. Then we went to see the Xmas tree at Rockefeller center and ice skating, and finally made it home..A perfect evening.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Steve

                    So nice to read an upbeat, happy report that *includes* warts and all that could have made it negative. Everyone you encountered seems to have risen to your occasion. Unexceptional food aside, the hair and potential for a long wait and/or aloof service always loom to spoil things. And we all know that some folks are always looking for something to go wrong. You handled everything with grace!

                  2. dessert at il molina (i think w3rd street) is the best show in nyc - old italian and not cheap but desserts made at your table and the best grappa and cappacino

                    1. Hello

                      Have you tried Don Pepe in Newark New Jersey.