New York, NY 10011
Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Mon.-Thu. 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
- Cuisine: Portuguese, Spanish, and Mediterranean
- Meals Served: Dinner and Lunch
- Price Range: $$$ ($16-$25) . Petiscos, charcuterie, appetizers: $7-$15
Classically trained chef George Mendes has worked with the best mentors (Bouley, Ducasse) and impressed the top critics (2 stars from the Times for his cooking at Tocqueville). But his most important mentors—and toughest critics—have always been his Portuguese family, whom he now mines for wisdom and inspiration at his first solo outing, Aldea, which specializes in upscale Iberian fare. "I grew up with the cured hams, the bacalao, the sardines, with those Iberian flavors," he tells us. "I like the tradition of tapas, and in Portugal we have petiscos, or snacks. And I built the menu off of that." At Aldea, those petiscos include crisped pig's ear and razor clams a la planxa, side by side with house-cured charcuterie (i.e. duck ham) and traditional appetizers like shrimp alhino, which is enhanced by a rich jus extracted from roasted shrimp's head.