92 Second Ave., btwn. 5th and 6th Streets, East Village
It’s a well known fact that pairing cuisine styles generally doesn’t work. Such restaurants rarely do justice to either cuisine. But Candela Candela does a fair job at pulling it off. And while it may not be at the top of any trendista’s list, Candela-Candela is a low key East Village restaurant that serves up fresh, generous Italian and Cuban entrees at tabs that are reminiscent of the days when the East Village was still an edgy, bohemian part of town. This sort of charm is reflected in Candela Candela’s interior.
It has a rustic decor replete with wooden floor planks, country-style tables, tin ceilings and Cuban-inspired paintings. Candela Candela is also graced with a cozy bar area and has a decent wine list and serves drinks that range from the Jaeger bomb to the Mojito Martini. The swift and competent service also makes it a really good off-off Broadway pre-theater choice.
Last Friday, a friend and I were able to score a table there at an hour and a half before our theater performance at the Club La MaMa. The place was well attended, but still had about 2-3 empty tables and the no fuss staff accommodated us immediately. Since my friend and I were not in the mood to rush, we decided to forgo appetizers and go straight to the main course. I had the special of linguine with mussels, squid and calamari in a white wine sauce. I was served a large-sized platter of linguine, cooked perfectly aldente topped with a couple of dozens of fresh, fragrant mussels, toothsome squid and a light white wine sauce that was not too garlickly. The textures and delicate flavors enabled me to eat much more than I thought I could of this generous portion.
My friend decided to try the Cuban side of things and ordered the ropa vieja. It too a gargantuan sized portion, but playfully presented to her with a tasteful garnish of friend plantains. The meat was exceptionally tender and sumptuously flavored. Both entrees were so large that forgoing dessert was the only option, even though we would have had the time to order some. I settled for a digestive espresso and the check. Our delicous meals and two glasses of wine came to a tab in the low sixties.
As to the lack of trendista-appeal: who can afford to be one these days?
And what do trendista’s know about good food anyway?
For my review of the great cabaret performance that I saw at Club La MaMa, click on the image below.