Friday, October 12, 2007

Nita Nita: Learning to Love "Tapas"

Nita Nita
146 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

(718) 388-5328

After more than a requisite number of trips to Madrid in one lifetime, I have a soft spot in my heart for Spanish culture and nothing sends that heart into palpitations quite like a restaurant serving appetizers masquerading as "tapas."

If the French began piling beef on a croissant and calling it a hamburger, Americans would be outraged, right? If we Americans started freezing fish on rice and selling it in supermarkets to be deep-fried into sushi, the Japanese would all-out invade us, right? So, I find the co-opting of an inherently Spanish tradition to fuel sales of small-portioned food a rather annoying excuse for culinary innovation. For crying out loud, American culture spreads like a virus that no amount of orange juice and chicken soup can stop. You'd think, at this point, that we could just make up food 'cause we feel like it and call it what it is. It worked for Jimmy Dean, I'm pretty sure NYC restaurants could pull it off too.

Well, Nita Nita missed my memo.

Roxie coxed Mint and I out to this new Williamsburg spot, which we found absolutely packed on a Friday night. The drink specials were few, but stellar. Mint, who doesn't usually opt for oddly-contrived creations, ordered a pumpkin martini of remarkable substance--with actual pumpkin puree in the mix.

The "tapas" menu, aside from olives, chorizo, and a plate of garlic shrimp, hardly hinted at Spanish anything. And yet, I was impressed. The mojo potatoes, suggesting perhaps bravas inspiration, arrived quietly herbed with a bit of spice. Not bravas, but not bad. Nita Nita's bar pizza was a simple, crispy crust with superbly fresh tomato sauce and glowing white melted mozzarella. The specials were far more creative--salmon served with fried herbs of its own (a curious twist) and champagne-doused pears with biting blue cheese and shaved dark chocolate. Decidedly some of the most memorable creations I've had in a while, I'll grant Nita that much.

At the end of the day, I still question invoking the Tapas Gods, but I will surely return. What can I say? Good food is good food.

Photo courtesy of Nita Nita.

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