For SSPNY Nolita Residents, New Destination Restaurant Estela is Yet Another Great Neighborhood Spot 

SSPNY Eats at Great New Destination Restaurant and Neighborhood Hotspot, Estela

SSPNY checks out Chef Ignacio Matto’s new restaurant Estela, an awesome destination restaurant on East Houston above dive bar Botanica, for great food and an incredibly difficult reservation to get. Matto opened this narrow 2nd-floor restaurant just months after leaving his wildly inventive and explosively flavored menu at Isa in Williamsburg.

One of my favorite meals of 2012 was at Isa in Williamsburg, during that brief period when Ignacio Matto ran the kitchen and the sparse menu featured tricky, explosively-flavored dishes that all landed on the correct side of inventive and weird. Not everyone was a fan, however, and Chef Matto left Brooklyn after only a few months. The good news: early this summer Chef Matto opened Estela on East Houston, an attractive, narrow (and, at peak hours, insanely loud) second-story room above the classic dive bar Botanica. I finally made it to Estela for a recent early dinner (it's been a tough seat there, slammed just about every night), and am happy to report that, in most cases, Matto is whipping up some awesome, only slightly odd, dishes. 

SSPNY looks at the short menu at Estela, easy for creating an appetizer/entrée combination meal, or just for ordering a bunch of smaller items to share. Pictured here, is one of the least pricey meals on the menu, a spectacular egg salad “snack” covered in bottarga and with crackling bits of grainy matzo. 
The Estela menu is short, and though you can create a standard appetizer/entree-ish sort of meal, sharing a bunch of items seems to be the way to go. I had four of Matto's creations and, to varying degrees, thoroughly enjoyed them all. Estela can be an expensive place to eat, but if you order carefully you can eat some really interesting, skillfully crafted food at mid-level prices. In fact, my favorite dish of the night may been the least expensive, a $9 spectacular egg salad "snack" covered in bottarga and accompanied with the crackling bits of grainy matzo. Which reminds me: another way to check out Chef Matto's Estela is to go for cocktail-hour drinks and snacks, sitting at the broad, comfortable bar. 
Next on the menu at Estela, SSPNY tries out the excellent Raw Scallop dish, for a massive and tender thinly cut crustacean, in a punchy yuzu sauce, topped with crunchy squash. Next, Chef Matto's Beef Tartare offers a nice and chunky mix with sunchokes and pieces of crunchy chips.
Also excellent at Estela was my Raw Scallop dish, the massive crustacean cut meltingly thin, swimming in a punchy yuzu sauce, topped with crunchy slices of squash. I could eat this all night long. Same goes for Chef Matto's Beef Tartare, which he leaves nice and chunky (as opposed to doing the grinding thing) and mixes with sunchokes and pieces of some sort of crunchy chips. Finally, for the salad part of my feast, the plate of Kohlrabi was first-rate, tossed with hazelnuts, mint and shavings of capra sarda cheese. Just a couple away from SSPNY's Elizabeth Street buildings in Nolita, Estela is a terrific addition to the neighborhood. 
Finally, for the salad SSPNY tried out a plate of Kohlrabi that was first-rate, tossed with hazelnuts, mint and shavings of capra sarda cheese.
Estela is located on Houston Street between Mott and Mulberry, and is open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 12:00 midnight, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 1:00 a.m. Closed Sunday. For more information and a look at a sample Estela menu, please see here. 


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