So Food Network star Bobby Flay finally decides to prove his on-air cooking talents still exist in a real kitchen, and he opened up Gato in NoHo- his first restaurant in New York in nearly a decade. Gato is Mediterranean, a little Spanish and all dishes meant for sharing. It might be hard to get a reservation, but they have first come first seating at the bar and side tables. It doesn’t seem like they have really figured this part out as both times I’ve been they have been really full here yet have some empty tables in the back dining room waiting, begging you to sit there, but they won’t seat you. Maybe the staff is instructed to leave some of these tables open at the beginning while the kitchen is still getting everything under wraps. Either way it’s strange.
You can see Bobby himself roaming around working hard in the kitchen with the utmost concentration and focus. The large dining room is spacious, and the bar area handles most of the “coziness.” The dinner menu offers bar snacks, appetizers, vegetables, entrees, etc. The Roasted Cauliflower is off the hook. I snuck extra servings while my friends weren’t looking in fear that the taste might escape my palate. It’s sweet from the agro dolce and has padron peppers as well to balance. I can’t even describe how delicious it is, but if you are trying to trick someone into finally liking cauliflower, this is your guy fosho. I debated ordering a second serving for myself and next time I waltz on in, I will not hesitate and selfishly order my own. Don’t look back.
My other favorite dish of the night was the Roasted Octopus with Tangerine, Bacon and Oregano with a surprise shisito pepper squatting on top. The octopus owns a softer texture without any char or crunch and dipped in a light sauce. The portion is a tad small, only a few bites for a table of 3 so you might have to get two depending on your group size, but absolutely don’t miss it if you are concerned about this. Although it screams delight, the Crab Risotto ain’t no thing. However, a better carb to indulge in here is the Pizza with Lamb Sausage, Tomato Jam, Mozzarella and Mint. Attack this pie. The mint and fresh salt sprinkled within each bite is spot on. It’s not heavy, the bread is thin enough but crisp enough all at the same time. I loved this. I’m really wondering why everyone has given so much attention to the Kale and Wild Mushroom Paella instead of this pizza. Yes, pizza is everywhere but it’s just got that warm comforting taste and mint seasoning that I thought beat the paella (if we are choosing between them).
Kale and Mushroom Paella
Overall, I’m super glad to have Bobby Flay cooking up this light, shareable and Mediterranean storm across the street from my apartment, and it brings an extra swell vibe to the neighborhood. All I could think about and what replayed in my head over and over again is how I wanted a second round of the standout dishes. The dining room is fun, too. Everyone is excited to check out this place and I ran into several friends at the bar reminding me how small and exciting New York really is.
If you can’t find me, just look for me at the bar at Gato- I’ll be the one alone at the bar with the roasted octopus and two orders of cauliflower.