One of Spain’s most acclaimed chefs Dani García — who owns 11 restaurants and is known as a master of progressive Spanish cuisine with dishes like nitro tomatoes and oxtail brioche –– will open Casa Dani on December 14 within the new Midtown West dining center Citizens NY, located at 448 West 33rd Street, between between Ninth and 10th avenues.
The 3,700-square-foot restaurant, which is divided between a 160-seat mezzanine dining room with a glassed-in open kitchen and 11-seat bar plus lounge space, is a collaborative project with Sam Nazarian’s prolific hospitality group Sbe (the same group who first partnered with pioneering Spanish chef José Andrés in Los Angeles to open his iconic the Bazaar). In contrast to much of the avant-garde, three Michelin-starred food that catapulted García to fame in Spain, here in New York he’s simplifying things, focusing on the Mediterranean cuisine he ate growing up in southern Spain’s Andalucía region.
“The inspiration comes from my youth, and the traditions of my country,” says García, adding that “the [restaurant’s] name indicates this.” Naturally, the menu leans toward seafood, with classic dishes from Southern Spain like chanquete con huevo y pimiento (noodlefish with fried eggs and roasted peppers), chipirones en su tinta (baby squid in ink sauce), and the crowd favorite of ham croquettes. While the chef notes that Casa Dani does bear some similarities to his seafood-focused restaurant Lobito de Mar (which counts locations in Marbella and Madrid), he explains that while some dish names are similar, each has its “own personality to the concept.”
Naturally, a decent portion of the menu is dedicated to tapas, and there’s a whole section devoted specifically to tuna and its various preparations. García says that he’s bringing in the best tuna in the world, from Spain, and will serve various cuts like tuna belly pan con tomate, morrillo a la sal (the forehead of the tuna with greens), and a tuna porterhouse carpaccio simply drizzled with Spanish olive oil. He is also importing that specific olive oil from Spain, along with boquerones, anchoas, and rice. “We are trying to bring as much as we can from Spain,” he says.
García’s Mediterranean menu continues with a mix of familiar dishes like croquetas de jamón ibérico and bacalao (salt cod) with piquillo peppers to larger family-style dishes such as a whole Canary Islands branzino baked in black salt. And no Spanish menu would be complete without a tribute to rice. Here, diners can pick from a handful of dishes with rice or fideos (noodles) fortified with proteins like Cornish hen, a 28-day dry aged bone-in ribeye, or seafood assortment. And, for customers who are keen to try any of García’s signature dishes, there is the oxtail brioche appetizer. It’s a dish that he created 18 years ago when he wanted to add oxtail to a tapas-style dish. The hand-held bite is made from brioche sandwiching together pulled oxtail with slices of mushroom and a special sauce made from oxtail jus.
As for Casa Dani’s bar progra, it is a joint venture between the chef’s team in Spain and NYC, with input from Sbe, as well. Cocktails lean heavy on sherry –– with tipples like 5600 Miles, which calls for Spanish brandy, amontillado sherry, mezcal, lime, and strawberry –– while the wine menu spans from all over Spain.
To complement García’s homestyle Spanish-Mediterranean food and drinks, lauded architect and interior designer David Rockwell (Wayan, Catch Steak) and his team designed a space reminiscent of open-air Spanish courtyards, decorating rooms with soft earthy tones, tiles, hanging plants, and lace-inspired curtains for an outdoor feel.
Some New Yorkers might recall that this isn’t Garcia’s first run in the Big Apple. In 2013, he debuted Manzanilla, a hotly anticipated Spanish brasserie on Park Avenue South with Boqueria owner Yann de Rochefort, and despite some good reviews, that concept didn’t quite work and it shuttered a year later. So, Garcia is at it again, but this time with not just one restaurant, but at least two. He also recently opened adjacent fast-casual chicken-centered El Pollo Verde also located in the Citizens NY food hall, located steps from the Hudson Yards development.
And while chef Alberto Carballo — who worked at Manzanilla and was most recently at the Turk’s Inn in Bushwick — will oversee the kitchen on day-to-day basis, García plans to be in New York often to oversee his restaurants, he says while also hinting that “there are plenty more projects in the works, so I’ll be here quite often.”