210 E. 3rd Street (Between Avenues B & C)
New York, NY 10009
After numerous trips to NYC to visit my sister, I finally got a chance to try one of her favorite restaurants. She fell in love with the place the first night she moved to the city. She and my parents decided to walk around her neighborhood to find a place to eat after moving and unpacking all day. A block and half away, they stumbled upon this little gem. My dad rarely talks a place up unless it’s halfway decent. Cafe Cortadito is well past halfway.
Last Saturday, my sister’s boyfriend, James, and I decided to treat my sister (it was her birthday the night before) and her friend Vanessa to dinner. We thought a reservation would be a good idea as it was a Saturday night. We had all been drinking since 1 at brunch. I was pretty well cocked and so I decided to take a few hours off. James kept his head down and powered through straight until dinner. He called at seven o’clock and made a reservation for four under the name “James/Julie…trust me, you know us.” He then called back saying we’d be a little late when we decided to watch the better part of “Drive.”
When we arrived, it was apparent that they were both very busy and our “reservation” may have been lost in translation (likely James, not the restaurant). James poked his head in and spoke to the hostess, who happens to be the chef’s wife, to see how long it would be before we could get a table. She was very sweet and was able to get us a table in the back within 15 minutes. Until then, we looked at the menu outside salivating.
The inside was very cozy; tight like a lot of smaller restaurants in NYC, but not claustrophobic: the type of restaurant that you don’t want to try to navigate through after a dozen drinks. I thought it was noisy at first until I realized that our table was contributing to the majority of it.
Within a minute, we had waters, a Stella (for myself) and a pitcher of red sangria (for everybody). We decided on splitting the Piquillos (stuffed peppers) and Chicarrones de Pollo (marinated chicken) appetizers for the table. My sister was there the night before with her roommate and also recommended the Yuca Frita con Cortadito Salsa (fried cassava fingers).
The Piquillos were delectable. I wished I could have dipped my fingers in the sauce without looking like a cromagnon asshole. The chicken was very tasty; the seasoning was savory and strong, yet not overpowering. The sangria was delicious and deceivingly tangy (guh).
The entree was an easy choice for me. Every time I go to a Cuban restaurant, I try their Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in a creole sauce). This was the best Ropa Vieja that I’ve ever had by far; wonderfully seasoned and tasted like it had been slow-cooked for a day. And there was something about the black beans. Christ, they were delicious!
Come dessert time, we were all stuffed. In order to make up for the wait, which may or may not have been our fault, the hostess comped a round of champagne for the table. Exactly what we needed. The four of us hobbled out of there happy and sated.
I’m making it a point to try their brunch the next time I’m down there.
If you’d like to check out the menu, visit their website: Cafe Cortadito