Recently Opened Restaurants

by Julie Besonen, 05/22/2013

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  • Melibea
    2 Bank St., 212-463-0090, West Village, Manhattan
    Salvador Dalí would be twisting his moustache with amusement at the cleverness of Spanish chef Jesús Núñez. At his new Mediterranean restaurant, Melibea, he deconstructs tiramisu and composes a zany still-life study of tomatoes, curled, sliced, puréed, dried and metamorphosed into tomato marshmallows and tomato powder. A gable of what looks like crispy bacon slices turn out to be smoky strips of eggplant concealing a vessel of moussaka. It's one of his best dishes, a delicious stew with hints of cinnamon, spicy béchamel and melting hunks of venison instead of lamb. Melibea, the sister restaurant of Barraca, next door, is named for the object of love in Fernando de Rojas's 15th-century tragicomedy La Celestina. The theatrical theme comes through with raised-platform seating and flattering lighting. The menu touches on Iberian, Greek, Italian, French and Israeli influences, all seen through Núñez's prism, and is matched by a wine list reflecting similar origins.

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