UPDATED WITH MENU, AT BOTTOM
Last night was the soft opening of Casa Ventura, the newest occupant of a corner storefront that's certainly seen a fair amount of action recently. First there was Barrio, which closed unexpectedly only to reopen as "small plates" concept MIX (after dabbling with the name Barrio Plates). That closed after about a month, and tonight at 5, after a thorough renovation and a change in ownership, Casa Ventura will be opening to the neighborhood.
The restaurant, on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Third Street, is the brainchild of several friends and neighbors who had been eager to open an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant with other Latin influences, in an upscale setting. After sampling some of the goods last night, it's pretty clear that they succeeded.
The focused menu contains 10 appetizers and 9 entrees, with seasonal specials to come, as well as a nice selection of specialty cocktails (the full menu is at bottom). Appetizers last night included Chicharron de Pollo (deep fried chunks of adobo-rubbed chicken served with a tasty red pepper-based sauce, $7.75), soy-marinated raw ahi tuna with a radish-pickled ginger salad ($10.95), and a crispy fried chicken and cheese empanada ($8.75).
Entrees included an 8-oz grilled skirt steak served with yuca mash ($17.95), fried sole ($15.95), Fideua (vegeterian paella made with pasta instead of rice, $13.95), and Jamaican jerk chicken breast served with rice and beans (at $9.95, a steal). Churros and flan were for dessert (both $5.95). There's some real creativity here as well as a deep knowledge of traditional Latin flavors, and even on the first night the kitchen churned out dishes that showed few, if any, flaws.
The space has been completely transformed, with reclaimed wood and earth tones throughout. The bar is now much larger than before, and seems like a pretty chill place to enjoy a cocktail or two: the margarita's made with Patron, mojitos were made with a deft hand, and the sangria will be very nice as we head into summer. The patio has also been redone, with simple black canvas and more reclaimed wood replacing the garish orange of Barrio. All told, the restaurant seats 80.
It's nice to finally see some real life breathed into this corner. The slate has been completely wiped clean, and judging by the food, decor, and service, all signs point to us having a real winner on our hands here.
Click through for the full menu, with additional cocktails to come.
Casa Ventura, 210 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-965-4000.