We like the original Socarrat Paella Bar quite a bit - and we're obviously not the only ones. So, as it goes when you've got a hot concept, Socarrat has begun its sprawl with a wine bar adjacent to its Chelsea flagship and a new, comparatively spacious location in Nolita.
This Nolita location is exciting news for a few reasons, most notably that it's much larger and they take reservations. No more bumping elbows at Socarrat Chelsea's communal table and praying you don't get seated next to a lefty. Right? Wrong.
The food at Socarrat Nolita is just as good as it is on the west side, and they even have a few exclusive paellas that we really like. But despite all that extra space, they have inexplicably occupied 40% of the room with a communal table. Now, we're all for group dining with strangers, but the only way you are having a comfortable meal sitting at this thing is if you have the body frame of Beaker from The Muppets. They need to pull about five stools away from the equation so you and your date won't have to deal with the lady next to you breathing on your calamari.
Speaking of dates, we don't recommend coming here with a party of two, just for the simple fact that you're pretty much guaranteed to sit with the strangers. Come in a party of three or four, and you should be dining comfortably at a table made for people with shoulders. A good thing, considering you will be eating from a giant pan.
Gambas al Ajillo
A pot of shrimp sizzling in olive oil, garlic and hot peppers. You'll see this in front of pretty much everyone at Socarrat. You should follow suit. It's good.
Also known as pan con tomate. These are crunchy, smallish crostinis with a pretty good amount of tomato guts spread on top. We typically like this kind of thing, but have had better versions elsewhere. Namely, Casa Mono and Spain.Paella de Langosta
This is the new lobster paella available at Socarrat Nolita. It's also got a whole sh*tload of other high end goodness from the sea, which is why it's the most expensive pan at $28 per person. It's worth it if you feel like getting your hands dirty on some langostines and cockles. If not, go for something less tactile like the Arroz Negro.Paella de Cordero
This one blew our minds a little bit. We're all for seafood, but the Cordero is a paella with just lamb, Japanese eggplant, and pine nuts. It's amazing.
Arroz Negro Paella
Socarrat's signature squid ink paella with black bass, squid ink, shrimp, squid and scallops. Tasty, and guaranteed to make the inside of your mouth look like a Louisiana oil spill.