Pan-Latin food is in the spotlight at one of Bay Ridge’s newest eateries.
Salud Restaurant, which had its soft opening on Third Avenue late last year, features impeccably prepared cuisine that merges Spanish and Latin-American cuisines, with many dishes served as small plates via the popular Iberia tradition of tapas.
The style – which Managing Partner Jose Rodriguez says reflects Spanish, South American and Caribbean influences — easily allows diners to enjoy tastes of several items on the cozy eatery’s menu, sharing a variety of offerings with the other people at their table, a mode of service picked up from the restaurant’s previous incarnation (which closed after Superstorm Sandy) in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.
The move to Bay Ridge provided the owners of the restaurant with an opportunity to give the menu what Rodriguez called “a facelift,” while still retaining the best and most popular items on Salud’s bill of fare.
“The chef [Tony Arellano] nailed it perfectly,” Rodriguez enthused, resulting in a menu in which virtually every item can lay claim to being a highlight, with almost everything (except the bread and the ice cream) made in house.
At our dinner, we sampled several of Salud’s specialties, concentrating on the tapas menu.
El Tequilaso ($14), a mix of savory and sweet featuring tequila-spiked sautéed shrimp on a bed of pureed sweet plantains came to the table flaming. The contrast of textures and flavors was delightful, particularly the subtle smoky undercurrent provided by the addition of chipotle peppers to the dish.
Chupachups de Chorizo ($10) were crispy-on-the-outside “lollipops” whose centers were chunks of iberico sausage and Spanish tetilla cheese – an approach to appetizer presentation that was delicious as it was fun.
Green plantain chips ($6), crispy ribbons just begging to be eaten, were served with a creamy black bean dip, and were smooth and subtly spicy, with the savor of chipotle.
The Langostacos ($16) plate features a trio of petite soft tacos filled with tender, slightly briny lobster meat, corn kernels and silken guacamole, while the Pulpa alla Parilla ($14) is comprised of rich grilled octopus, its flesh surprisingly mild, accompanied by al dente wedges of boiled potato, with a subtle vinegar flavor.
The one main dish we tasted was the Fish of the Day, baccala ($28), which was served accompanied by crispy and blissfully buttery cooked vegetables – including wedges of carrot and Brussels sprouts, and asparagus spears – atop squid ink-infused polenta in a pale yellow saffron-infused sauce.
Washing it all down we enjoyed one of the restaurant’s signature wines, the Don Jacobo Reserve Rioja ($11, glass; $42, bottle), and two mixed drinks – a delicate yet sprightly Mojito and a sweet and smooth Caipirinha (each, $11).
Then it was time for dessert. We sampled smooth and silken coconut flan ($8) garnished with whipped cream and a luscious, luxurious Volcan de Chocolate ($9), whose baked exterior belied a gloriously gooey interior, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a handful of berries.
Salud, said Rodriguez, will vary its offerings by the seasons, with a fall-winter menu to be succeeded by a spring-summer menu. In addition, the eatery has just begun serving brunch on weekends, with live music from 12 to 3 p.m. on Sundays (as well as Fridays, from 8 to 10 p.m.)
7204 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Tuesday-Thursday: 4-11 p.m.
Friday: 4 p.m.-midnight
Saturday: 11 a.m.-midnight
Sunday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Prix fixe: $25 two tapas and one dessert on Tuesdays and Wednesdays