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Manhattan Spanish

Itzocan Bistro in Spanish Harlem (longish)

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Itzocan Bistro in Spanish Harlem (longish)

flo | Mar 26, 2004 12:25 AM

Just had dinner at an amazing little French/Mexican Restaurant up on Lexington Ave/corner 101st street, named Itzocan Bistro.
They just opened a week ago, the chef is a very talented and gentle man from Puebla named Anselmo Bello, who manned the stoves at some French restaurants, and Max & Moritz in Park Slope, before opening his own place, together with his brother Fermin.
The cuisine could best be described as Mexican with strong leanings to French techniques.
The three of us sampled the pumpkin and grilled shrimp soup with serrano peppers, quite possibly the best pumpkin soup I've ever had. Our other starters were the duck confit, Brie and wild mushroom quesadilla, which had a sprinkle of truffle oil, and a crisp potato, queso fresco and poblano napoleon, both moderately spicy and beautifully presented. As entrees we picked lamb shank, pumpkin seed crusted red snapper, and a bowl of steamed mussels. The lamb was set over spicy roasted new potatoes, with a Merlot and (forgot which) ..pepper sauce, delicious. The perfectly baked, meaty snapper filet came over grilled squash and a chipotle saffron broth, excellent and light. The mussels were straight forward, garlicky and in a tomato & wine broth.
Of the desserts, the pear & chocolate tarte (with more pear than chocolate flavor) and a silky brown sugar and Kaluha pot de creme were memorable. We missed a real chocolate dessert, but were glad not to see another oozing molten chocolate cake on their menu.
Wine with dinner is still free, while they are awaiting their liquor license.
They are not open for lunch, but are doing weekend brunches and catering and delivery.
The three course dinner for three came to $ 75, including coffee and sparkling water. Our glass of Cabernet was free. The vibe is very friendly, utterly unpretentious, a neighborhood bistro in the best sense.
Their adress is: Itzocan Bistro, 1575 Lexington Ave, corner 101st Street. Tel.: 212. 423 0255. They do take reservations, and you very likely get the chef answering the phone.

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