Favorite Dishes #66: Pulpo at Toro


Complicated as it can be to cook, octopus has emerged as something of a common menu item across the city. Few and far between, however, are the eateries that truly excel at this maritime delicacy. For a high-minded example of tasty tentacles as they are meant to be served, head straight to Toro, a Spanish-styled tapas bar in the West Village. Their pulpo — braised and seared in its own juices — reflects a traditional Galician preparation. An impossibly delicate exterior char provides only a slight crunch, before revealing an unending tenderness within.

Gilding the round tendril of seafood is a golden array of garnishes, including a charred-onion vinaigrette and crisped fingerling potatoes, peppered liberally with garden oregano fresh from the farmers’ market. The starch glides over the excess liquid, soaking up the deluge of flavor — saltiness from the octopus, caramelized sweetness in the dressing, even a subtle nod to smokiness. The tastes run analogous to any number of Toro’s well-balanced mezcal cocktails, most notably its TBD — a tongue tickler enhanced with smoked chile bitters, lime, and grapefruit zest.

Skip the rest — when you want octopus done right, Toro is leading the charge.

The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.

Here’s our countdown up to now:
#100: Laminated Blueberry Brioche at Dominique Ansel Kitchen
#99: Egg Shop’s Golden Bucket Fried Chicken
#98: Ramen Lab’s Torigara Shoyu
#97: Cannoli at Ferdinando’s
#96: Breakfast Sandwich at Dimes
#95: Banana Royal at Eddie’s Sweet Shop
#94: Fletcher’s Burnt Ends
#93: Almayass’s Mante
#92: Empellon Taqueria’s Fish Taco
#91: El Rey’s Sardine Tostada
#90: General Tso’s Pig’s Head at the Cannibal
#89: The Vegetarian at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop
#88: The 21 Club’s Creamy Chicken Hash
#87: Deep-Fried Olives at Via Carota
#86: Pougi at Loi Estiatorio
#85: Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich
#85: Pearl & Ash’s Smoked Bread with Chicken Butter
#84: Gluten-Free Pizza at Rossopomodoro
#83: Perry St’s Chocolate Pudding With Candied Violets
#82: Whit’s End’s ‘Fuckin’ Bluefish Dip’
#81: Morgenstern’s Salt and Pepper Pine Nut Ice Cream
#80: Levain Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
#79: Delmar Pizzeria’s Pizza
#78: Cafe Cluny’s Avocado Toast
#77: Brooklyn Star’s Cinnamon Bun
#76: Pork Belly Cotton Candy at Carnem
#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns
#74: Mission Chinese Food’s Oil-Cured Anchovies
#73: Johnnycakes at LoLo’s Seafood Shack
#72: The Starving Artists Steak at Belle Reve
#71: The Spotted Pig’s Gnudi
#70: Xi’an Famous Foods’ Tiger Vegetable Salad
#69: Crème Brûlée Truffle at Kee’s Chocolates
#68: Pok Pok’s Muu Paa Kham Wong
#67: Cacio e Pepe at Upland