Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 04/08/2015
Photo: Dara Karac
- more in dining/
102 Norfolk St., 212-432-4180, Lower East Side, Manhattan
La Contenta is a snug, romantic new bistro on the Lower East Side, fueled by fine tequila, mezcal and Mexican fare executed with French technique. Chef-owner Luis Arce Mota is from Mazatlán and trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America, later working at Bouley, Ofrenda and Cafe Condesa. Here he's partnered with Alex Valencia, from Mexico's Jalisco state, whose passion for alternative agave distillations is eye opening. The menu features blue crab tostadas and fabulous fish tacos, two plump planks of sole in a cloak of tempura batter, piquant with a smear of chipotle aioli. A pairing of braised chicken breast and chicken leg confit is doused in full-bodied, chocolaty mole sauce and served on a bed of wild-rice risotto with sweet accents of plantain. Neighborhood gallery and boutique owners converge here after work since it's quieter than the area's bar-crawl hangouts.