photo by Robert Menzer
Most of the Mario Batali - Joe Bastianich canon is firmly rooted in Italy, but Batali also lived in Spain, and so in 2003, the duo opened Casa Mono and Bar Jamón near Union Square, unveiling one of the first homages to the region of Catalonia on U.S. soil. Both spots channel Barcelona, with their casual rhythms and relaxed hums, and at the ripe old age of 11, still command nightly crowds. The best way to experience Casa Mono is similar to how you’d eat at the more casual Bar Jamón: Grab a barstool — preferably one at the chef’s counter, where you can watch chef Andy Nusser’s cohorts at work — order a glass of wine or sherry, and move at your whimsy through cured meats and raciones. Classics include the fideos with clams and chorizo, the duck egg with truffles and mojama, razor clams a la plancha, and foie gras; upon further review, we’d add the pan con tomate and the bacalao croquetas to the list of dishes you should not miss.