A finalist in the James Beard foundation’s Best New Restaurant of 2014 (covering the entire US), Estela is a tough reservation to get online.

Given two people we’d met on this gastronomic adventure (who didn’t know each other) recommended it, we managed to score a table on a holiday weekend at the ‘early-bird special’ time of 5.30pm. The sun was beating down outside but we had a quiet and cool table for two in a little niche at the rear of the restaurant.

With very solid expectations, we perused the small menu that changes regularly. The dishes are designed to be shared, which plays perfectly into the way we like to eat.
Greedy Girl ordered a glass of J. Lassalle ‘Preference’ Brut – a boutique champagne house in Chigny-les-Roses on the Montagne de Reims, while gluttonous husband had an Evil Twin ‘Falco’ IPA from Connecticut. The champagne was rich and creamy and the pouring generous. Greedy Girl settled in happily.

Both co-owners have considerable pedigrees. Chef Ignacio Mattos is Uruguayan but has been cooking in NYC restaurants for quite a long time and come to the attention of industry award judges and top magazines. Co-owner Thomas Carter looks after the front of house and the drinks side of things but he too has cooked at some impressive places, including Le Bernadin and the Mercer Kitchen. The restaurant’s website says the two ‘found each other through a truffle guy’. Greedy Girl likes their style.

And so to the food. The plates are presented simply. Trying to lengthen our stay, we asked for our dishes to be presented one at a time. First to come out were the salted cod and potato croquettes with aioli. Gluttonous husband incurred Greedy Girl’s wrath here, attempting to tuck into these crunchy morsels before the obligatory photograph had been taken. Such is the downside for a hungry man dining out with a food blogger. These were perfectly balanced and went well with the aioli. Gluttonous husband hoovered down three of these to Greedy Girl’s one. It was a lovely accompaniment to the drinks.

salted cod and potato croquettes

Salted cod and potato croquettes

Next up was burrata with salsa verde, pictured at the top of this blog. Hidden underneath here is a piece of very crunchy bread – and it needed to be because the salsa verde was very wet. Burrata is made from mozzarella and cream, giving the cheese a little extra lightness and changing the texture slightly to make it rather less elastic. The sauce went very well with it but the somewhat watery texture was a little confronting to begin with.

Next was fried arroz negro with squid and romesco. Yum, yummier, yummiest. The fried black rice was soft and yet crunchy in parts and the squid full of flavour. Getting one of the little pieces of onion and the romesco sauce just took the flavours to another level. Every grain of rice was mopped up.

The go-to dish - arroz negro with squid and romesco sauce

The go-to dish – arroz negro with squid and romesco sauce

Our final savoury course was ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo. Again the sauce was very thin but the combination of flavours here was extraordinary. The dumplings and cheese were hidden under a layer of shaved mushrooms. This pulled off the near-impossible – to be rich and light at the same time. We mopped up every last drop with some crusty bread.

ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo

Ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo

The debate began on whether to order another savoury course or to go to dessert. The latter won out and we chose the recommendation of our lovely waiter – parsnip ice-cream with chocolate caramel and sesame. The presentation of this was extremely simple. Gluttonous husband tried to cut the smooth disk open to reveal the caramel filling but it just oozed everywhere. Parsnip ice-cream? It was very, very good. Even Greedy Girl thought it excellent and she doesn’t go in for ice-cream. The caramel and sesame were excellent flavour matches.

parsnip ice-cream with chocolate caramel and sesame

Parsnip ice-cream with chocolate caramel and sesame

Our lovely waiter, seeing our glasses were close to being drained, brought us a delightful dessert wine as a treat. This was a Domaine Marengo muscat from Corsica, from a tiny vineyard taken over by a lawyer and a marketer only in 2007. They’re clearly doing it right; this was the most refined, subtle and delicious dessert wine Greedy Girl has ever tasted.

Sadly, it was time for us to head out. Greedy Girl kept an eagle eye on the plates going to other tables and wished for more time in NYC so she could come back and try more.

Just a tip: if you’re trying to get a booking and the availability online is limited, ring the restaurant if you can. There seems to be much more flexibility and opportunity.


47 E Houston Street, New York


Estela Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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