The big review: Brosia *** (very good)

Seared ahi tuna. Photo: Cheryl A. Guerrero/

It’s Brosia, not “ambrosia,” as anyone familiar with Greek mythology or Southern fruit salads might think.

“It doesn’t mean anything, but it sounds Mediterranean,” says owner Scott Engelman.

And though a meal here won’t confer immortality or end with coconut-strewn canned fruit, a contented smile is
almost guaranteed. Chef Arthur Artiles, a young and innovative protégé of Norman Van Aken, is serving up some impressive eats.

Lunch is prime time at Brosia, as the crowds of neighborhood designers and their clients come for the fantastic feta and olive tapenade burger on a toasty ciabatta roll as well as the gently dressed salads festooned with delicacies such as tiny quail eggs, baby anchovies and young arugula.

Skip the ramekin of OK white bean dip served with bagel chips and head straight for the stellar appetizers. In what should become a signature dish, the Catalan shrimp with tender clams the size of pencil erasers is studded with chorizo coins and diced red chiles and spiked with an almost creamy reduction of garlicky sherry.

Lamb sausage merguez on tiny skewers with a chunky yogurt tzatziki and Moroccan steamed mussels with coconut curry sauce are good starters to share. Skinny, herbed fries are another must try.

A side of creamy polenta with good Parmesan goes with anything. Vegetarians could make a fantastic meal of it with the expertly sautéed, wine-and-shallot-laced spinach or grilled asparagus.

On the entree side, the pork tenderloin is exceptionally tender, pink and juicy, served with perfectly braised greens, pickled caperberries and cornichons and an apple-puree reduction.

The value-priced lobster pappardelle — silken pasta loaded with chunks of tender claw meat and sprinkled with sprigs of mint — is one more reason to like this unpretentious newcomer.

The wine list offers plenty of decent picks, with dozens of bottles under $50. Teetotalers will be thrilled with the star anise blood-orange iced tea.

Desserts like a chocolate-walnut cake are, like much of the rest of the menu, delicious in their simple and satisfying execution. Best of show is a Spanish-style flan with a twist of lemon and a smooth caramel finish.

Reviewed: March 20, 2008


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