Jose Garces has some of the Food Network visibility of Guy Fieri (having completed a stint as one of America’s own Iron Chefs), yet has quietly assembled a dynasty in the rising culinary city of Philadelphia — making him a respected entity amongst the gastronomic elite. So can he translate that celeb-seeking mojo to NYC’s tourist-thronged Times Square, while still maintaining the polished integrity demonstrated at Battery City’s outpost of Amada?
That’s the hope at the just-opened Ortzi, located in the Luma Hotel, directly on West 41st St. A standalone concept (unlike the aforementioned Amada), the 45-seater focuses on Basque cuisine — specifically dishes cooked in cazuelas — Spain’s traditional clay vessels.
Working together with chef de cuisine, Michael Han (formerly of A Voce and Bouley), in a centralized open kitchen with a rustic brick oven, Garces has fashioned a breakfast-through-dinner menu; the better to capture his in-house, hotel audience, while remaining constantly available to area sightseers, seeking step-above sustenance from Bubba Gump’s Shrimp.
Morning options include Bocadillos — thin, pressed sandwiches of egg, manchego and potato hash — as well as Stone Fruit Pancakes, laked in sangria syrup and canela whipped cream. The cazuelas appear during lunch and dinner (look for simmering pots of Wood Roasted Poussin, Bacalao Stuffed Peppers, Braised Oxtail with chickpeas and Sofrito, and albarino-glazed Rabbit Stew), flanked by tinned conservas and fresh crudos (Tuna Belly, Octopus, Spanish Mussels, and Black Bass Escabeche, respectively), as well as items traditionally prepared a la plancha; think seared Garlic Prawns, Blood Sausage, Lamb Chops, Sea Trout, and Wagyu Sirloin touched with salsa verde.
And since Basque Country is synonymous with cider, Ortzi doesn’t disappoint; offering bottles of Istasegi, Txopinondo and Clos de la Fontaine Hugo, as well as communal, festive tastes of Uriondo and Domaine Bordatto, decanted on high from a Porron; a special glass pitcher shaped like a watering can; popularly dispensed directly into one’s mouth.
Just as festive as beakers of Bacardi at Senor Frog’s, but infinitely more urbane.
120 W. 41st St.