At Estela, Thomas Carter and Ignacio Mattos cracked the shareable small plates code by serving portions that were slightly larger than tapas, but still not the size of traditional entrees. You might call them "leave them wanting a little bit more plates" or "entree ponies." The critics loved them, and Ignacio Mattos got a James Beard Award nomination for cooking them. President Obama popped in for dinner, bringing Houston Street to a standstill. The Times compared the duo to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Estela landed on both the Eater 38 and the National 38. And now, Mattos and Carter are getting read to unfurl their follow-up to that wildly popular restaurant.
After a few friends and family dinners last week, the dynamic duo will officially thrust open the doors to their new Hudson Square Italian restaurant, Cafe Altro Paradiso tonight.
He is experiencing the kind of pure, simple joy that can only come from eating pasta and drinking wine near a folded-up newspaper. The napkin is correctly tucked in the collar of his shirt. Reading glasses neatly folded on the table. He's in the zone.
The menu includes beef carpaccio, a chicory salad, fritto misto, grilled swordfish, seared octopus, and five types of fresh pasta. Eventually, Cafe Altro will launch daily dinner specials, and possibly a daytime menu. Expect a wine list with a lot of Italian options, plus Champagne and bottles from Burgundy and the Rhône. Mattos tells the Robs: "Estela is about creating identity in dishes...I want this to be as traditional as possible — but of course, you still have to sparkle it up."