Taberna Arros y Vi The name that’s hard to say with the food you won’t forget
By Maggie Louie
Just past the Promenade, tucked away on 2nd, between Santa Monica and Broadway, sits the Westside’s newest little neighborhood tapas and paella joint, Taberna Arros y Vi; the name that’s hard to say with the food you won’t forget. There is a distinct feeling of being at a small family owned restaurants. Many regulars fill the bar area which is brimming with conversations and laughter. Staff joke and mingle with one another and patrons giving the entire place a friendly inviting vibe.
Executive Chef Verite Mazzola Executive Chef Verite, began her career as a humble pastry chef working for the likes of Wolfgang puck, but soon found herself “hot side” running a full kitchen and staff. Now a seasoned veteran, she takes great pride in the restaurants and the quality of ever dish they prepare. With daily deliveries form local farmers, imported spices form Spain and line caught fish shipped fresh daily (and sometimes with hook still in) the quality of her ingredients sets her apart in creating these classic Spanish dishes.
Morcilla Bocadillo – Blood Sausage Sandwich with Paquillo Peppers and Harrisa Aioli This oversized sandwich could be the Spanish version of a Po-Boy or a Cuban. The blood sausage, made by chef Verite, uses rice in lieu of the onions, which balances the mineral flavor of the blood. This technique of sausage making is similar to that of the classic creole sausage, Boudin but the taste is entirely different. Morcilla is rich and creamy; the rice absorbs the flavor of the blood but without adding a mealy or bready texture. The sausage is sliced and laid flat on the bread that’s been prepared with a healthy slathering of the harrisa aioli. Topping that is the roasted Paquillo pepper. This large pepper is a type of chili – but is sweet not hot. Grown in Northern Spain near the town of Lodosa, this pepper has hints of pimento and roasted red pepper but a distinct sweet smoky flavor all it’s own.
Octopus Carpaccio – Cured Orange Fennel Salad, Kusshi Oyster, Topped with Fresh Herbs It’s hard to imagine how they slice the octopus so thin. Chef Verite uses a technique that involves first making an octopus roll. After freezing this roll/log she is able to slice the delicate meat paper-thin. The Roll is reconstructed on the plate with the thin disks placed overlapping down the center of the long plate. Atop the delicate octopus sits the cured orange fennel salad. Light liquorish and fresh citrus perfume without over powering. Finally the fresh herbs give a nice crunch to entire bite. Everything I tried was absolutely amazing but the Octopus Carpaccio was addictive.
New Zealand Green Mussels – with Spicy Butter, Chorizo and Blue Cheese If you love mussels but have never tried New Zealand Greens, this is a must. The New Zealand Greens are the cleanest tasting mussel I’ve ever had. The clean “non-lingering” taste is due to the cold water temperatures, I’m told by chef Verite. “ We sauté the shallots, white wine and chorizo, brown it all in a pan to order, add the mussels just until they open then add the spicy rosemary butter with tomato, a touch of blue cheese and serve immediately”, says Verite. This is evident in the texture of the mussels. Perfectly cooked and based in the delicious sauce, the melding of flavors and textures is a “must order”.
Vegetable Paella – Market Fresh Romanesco, Fava Beans, Brussel Spouts, and Heirloom Carrots One of the most impressive qualities of Taberna’s Paella is the freshness. No Par-boiled rice here. Chef Verite uses the traditional Spanish Bomba rice and each paella is made to order and takes about 30 minutes to make. Grab sangria and a few tapas while you wait, it’s worth it.
Crustless Honey Cheesecake – with Candied Red wine Quince and White & Red Pomegranate Chef Verite started her career as a pastry chef working for Wolfgang Puck, so it should come as no surprise that she still has a passion for nurturing the sweet tooth. Using local honey as her inspiration for this velvety delicate cheesecake, Chef Verite creates another original…. For those looking for a lighter cheesecake packed with flavor this is a great pick. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no lack of the expected rich satisfying taste you would expect from cheesecake, but the honey gives this just a slightly lighter mouth feel.