July 28, 2017
It hurts me when a really good restaurant isn’t packed with people. I walked into Gloria last night and instantly knew it was going to be a great evening. I’d liked everything I’d read about this new Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, from the fact that the chef, Diego Garcia, had worked at Contra and Le Bernardin, and has focused his menu on sustainable east coast fish. I liked that the wine list features natural wines. And I certainly appreciated the airy, open, gracious room. The service could not have been more pleasant, and as the night progressed, I kept wondering why only half the seats were full.
The first taste was promising. I could have made an entire meal of this buttery, crunchy corn bread.
And it was uphill from there. That octopus up top was impressive, tender little discs set on a colorful bed of black rice and red cabbage. I was even more taken with this inky iteration of squid, the way the pea tendrils added a green note and d those sneaky little heaps of white turned out to be cauliflower masquerading as rice.
Crab was served with a generous hand, interlaced with crunchy little bits of kohlrabi (is it about to become the new kale?) and a smooth sabayon infused with the flavors of bouillabaisse.
And the tomato salad was superb – a really appealing take on caprese – all texture and taste.
On to the larger plates: Whole shrimp were served with their heads, on a bed of hominy. Pure simple pleasure.
A beautifully cooked whole snapper came with lobster sauce (and would serve two)
Should this be entirely too pescatarian for your taste, or you’ve got a bean freak in tow, don’t miss these:
There’s a lovely simplicity to Rivera’s food; it’s pretty but never contrived, and the flavors come shining through. This is also true of the desserts: none of those over-engineered fantasies, but a straightforward tart
And a tres leches cake whose memory stayed with me long after I’d left the restaurant.
Why wasn’t the room full? Beats me. But I, for one, will certainly be back.
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