Pour some sangria out for La Paella. After 20 years on East 9th Street, the Spanish spot just got a Cuban makeover.
At Varadero (named after a beach in Cuba), chef Roberto Ferrer has ditched La Paella’s menu for a new one reflecting his Cuban heritage, though you can still order paella. Appetizers like Caribbean nachos, shrimp in garlic sauce, and choclo (corn on the cob topped with cheese and spicy ranch ailoli) range from $5 to $11. Entrees like ropa vieja are in the $16 to $22 range. There will also be a variety of beer and wines, including Spanish Rioja.
Owner Vinicio “Manny” Perez de la Cruz, who also owns Latin American restaurant Bungalow 31 Bar and Grill in Woodside, closed La Paella for several weeks to paint the interior; the new restaurant got its cherry-red signage last week. De la Cruz said his aim was to brighten and modernize the 20-year-old restaurant, which he said was in danger of going out of business when he took over (he’s still working with La Paella owner Carlos Camtoverde to ensure a smooth transition). To that end, the dim lighting and hundreds of dried roses hanging from the ceiling had to go. In their place are freshly painted gray walls and orange booths.
When we stopped by this afternoon, workers were still putting the final touches on the basement-level dining room, which De la Cruz said would be ready for Friday’s dinner service.
Here’s the menu.
Varadero, 214 E. 9th St, nr. Stuyvesant St., East Village; (212) 598-4321