Once upon a time — about ten years ago, to be exact — the only local, pre-movie dining options you had were either Chevy’s or P.J. Clarke’s.
Now, directly across the street from the Regal Battery Park City theater — and a new Mexican restaurant called El Vez, Blue Smoke Barbecue, and Shake Shack — is Amada, a Spanish restaurant named for owner’s grandmother, who
ignited his love of food at a young age.
Amada, which first opened in Philadelphia, was José Garces’ first solo venture, won him the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. A decade later, Garces brings Amada to Brookfield Place, his first restaurant in New York.
In collaboration with Chef de Cuisine Justin Bogle, previously of the Michelin-starred Gilt, Garces offers a menu of traditional and modern tapas that features classic Amada staples, as well as unique signature offerings, available only in New York City.
“It is truly humbling to return to the city where I started my career as a young chef all these years later,” says Garces.
Amada’s menu includes a variety of favorites from the Philly-based original, such as Amada’s Empanada made with a melty Spanish Manchego and artichoke escabeche, an homage to the meal he prepared with his grandmother for family gatherings years ago.
“I can remember when I first worked for Jose back in the early 2000’s, I was at the restaurant the day he brought his grandmother in to teach the prep team how to make the dough and form the empanadas,” said Chef Bogle, who lives a ferry-ride away across the river in Jersey City. “Amada’s approach to Spanish Tapas is pretty traditional, with some modern touches. It is a fairly-large menu, which we feel allows us to offer something for everyone.”
Also making the trip to Battery Park is the Tortilla Española (Spanish tortilla served with a saffron aioli) and Wagyu Brochettes a La Planxa (griddled Wagyu beef skewers), as prepared at a plancha grill in the rear of the dining room.
The menu also features dishes exclusive to the New York location, such as Calamares Con Apio (grilled squid and celery salad with morcilla and potato), Sopa De Espárragos (white asparagus soup with mushroom, duck butifarra and pistachio), Picado (lamb tartare with romesco verde and Idiazábal), Guisantes (English peas with mint and potato), Butifarra Coca (Spanish flatbread with Catalan garlic sausage, piquillo pepper confit and spinach), Pichón Con Jerez (roasted squab with morels and rhubarb) and Trucha, (Sea Trout with harissa, baby lettuce and a tamarind glaze).
Large dishes, or Especialidades De La Casa, include, most impressively, a $78 Lobster Paella topped with a fava bean salad and smoked paprika aioli. Right now, those are moving at a rate of about 15 orders per night.
Chef Bogle’s personal favorite is the Cordero Picado, a dish of Border Spring’s Farm Lamb Tartare with Romesco Verde and Puffed Idiazabal. This was one of the first dishes he developed for the New York outpost, which gained immediate Jose’s approval.
“We take a classic romesco and substitute green ingredients. Instead of ripe tomatoes we use green tomatoes, green peppers in place of red peppers and pistachios are added in place of almonds,” he said. “The dish is garnished with a puffed Idaiazabal cheese cracker, similar in texture to a Vietnamese prawn cracker, except made with Idiazabal cheese.”
Adjacent to the restaurant is Amadita, a bright and airy 20-seat café offering coffee and a light breakfast or lunch. The café features a menu of Spanish-style coffees, like Café con Leche and Cortadito, and savory breakfast options such as a Ham and Manchego Pastry and Pan con Chocolate. Lunch offerings including Bocadillos, Spanish-style sandwiches, such as Jamon Y Chile Verde with Serrano ham, Idiazábal cheese and green chile escabeche, and two types of Empanada Gallega filled with chorizo picadillo or spinach, manchego and egg.
At night, Amadita transforms into a vinoteca, with Amada’s full wine list and a menu of bar snacks including cured meats, cheeses, and tapas like Pimientos De Padròn (flash-fried peppers with salbitxada) and Croquetas de Jamón. Crafted by the award-winning pastry chef Michael Laiskonis, the dessert menu includes modern twists on Spanish-style creations such as Tocinillo De Cielo (egg cream with vanilla, orange meringue and pistachio sponge cake), Milhojas (puff pastry with hazelnut, praline, bergamot, and banana) as well as Churros with spiced sugar and Spanish hot chocolate.
Amada is open seven days a week, for both lunch and dinner. Lunch is served on Monday to Sunday from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM, dinner is served on Sunday to Thursday from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM and Friday & Saturday from 5:00 PM to 11:30 PM. Amadita is open seven days a week for breakfast from 7 AM to 11:30 AM, continues into lunch from 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM and turns into Wine Bar at 5:00 PM during dinner service. Reservations are available via phone at (212) 542-8947 or online at www.amadarestaurant.com.
Helaina Hovitz is an editor, writer, and co-founder of Headlines for the Hopeful, a news site dedicated to positive news stories about people making a difference in the world. She is also the author of the forthcoming memoir After 9/11: One Girl’s Journey Through Darkness to a New Beginning. She has written for the New York Times, Teen Vogue, Salon, Newsday, xoJane, New York Observer, and others. She is a contributor to Forbes, Huffington Post, Recovery.org, and is the NYC Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Visit her at www.HelainaHovitz.com