Like the district it resides in, everything about Toro is big. Its space, its wine list. The towering ceiling, the industrial metal beams. Everything, that this, expect for the small plates it specializes in.
Skimming the West Side Highway at the heart of the Meatpacking District, Toro is putting up a fight against intimidating foes, with Morimoto’s namesake restaurant, Batali’s Del Posto and Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons right around the corner.
But it has carved out a world of tapas that’s different enough to draw an audience to its spacious warehouse of a restaurant.
We found its entrance tucked away on the edge of the highway, opening up to a grandiose setting, which once served as the Nabisco factory.
We were in for a quick bite, so consider this review a peek into what is quite an extensive menu. Think Casa Mono on steroids.
The soft shell crab sliders came first, with strong, bold flavors, typical of tapas dishes. Given the in-your-face seasoning, the dish’s emphasis more slider than soft shell crab. That’s why it was a relief to see the next two dish show a bit more restraint.
The pulpo — octopus with potato and charred onion — was a bit more subtly flavored. The octopus was fresh, still bouncy in texture, but not to the point of chewy.
But my favorite was the callos — tripe in this bean and tomato stew. Not a fan of tripe? Its flavor here is understated and its often intimidating texture melded well into the stew. Again, the flavors are bold, so it would have been nice with some bread, but the dish itself is solid.
Meatpacking isn’t my favorite district for food, but Toro is proving to have some lasting power for now. And with a menu that’s constantly evolving, it’s intriguing enough to warrant another visit.