Make sure you uncover the gastronomical gem contained within the Radisson in New Rochelle. With an unassuming front entrance, NoMa Social is easy to miss for those not staying at the hotel—but I implore you not to make this mistake.
Despite stormy weather on a Tuesday evening, the Mediterranean restaurant housed a handful of groups and couples sharing small plates and big laughs. Executive chef Bill Rosenberg and his attentive wait staff greeted a handful of presumed regulars upon their coming and going. It was lovely to watch the friendly rapport between Rosenberg and his patrons.
Soft Latin rhythms playing overhead matched the swanky flair of the room, which is comprised of a large bar and lounge area in addition to regular tables. The modern vibe is comparable to trendy Manhattan spots, and the restaurant is actually linked with the Big Apple in its name: “NoMa” is short for “North of Manhattan.” I noticed a few homey touches tucked away around the perimeter (e.g., books on a shelf), but the white and purple couches with zebra-patterned accents certainly grabbed my attention most.
Rosenberg presented me with quite a spread of tapas, each more delectable than the next. The “asparagus a la plancha” was on point, topped with a farm egg I loved breaking apart and spreading liberally. Had I been fed brussels sprouts “chips” as a child, there is no way I would have harbored such a long-lasting resentment towards the vegetable. Shrimp prepared with toasted garlic, marsala, and chili flakes also ranked among my favorites. Its leftover sauce was perfect for dunking bread, and I could have happily licked the bowl clean.
For spicier bites, like the patatas bravas, a blueberry lemonade was the perfect refreshing complement. Made with Stoli blueberry vodka, triple sec, muddled lemon, ginger syrup, and a splash of soda, this cocktail struck the right balance between sweet and tangy, serving as an ideal palate cleanser between dishes. The cleverly-named “octopus in purgatory,” noted by Rosenberg as a personal favorite, and the blistered shishito peppers certainly required a few large, lemony gulps. Dessert was a heavenly pecan chocolate tart sundae that was as beautiful as it was tasty.
Rosenberg’s repertoire extends well beyond tapas, though. The extensive menu boasts several wood-fired pizzas and full-size meat and fish dishes. Various sides and a delicious-sounding cheese plate round out the vast offerings, leaving the average diner with an almost overwhelming plethora of options. Rosenberg seems most proud of his small plates, as he should be, and NoMa Social offers a great deal: five tapas and a pitcher of sangria for just fifty dollars. Happy hour features a selection of beer, cocktails, wine, and tapas for four dollars apiece. I look forward to returning and taking advantage of such bargains.
I had the opportunity to speak with Rosenberg himself for a few minutes to learn a little bit more about his background and preferences. He draws inspiration for his dishes based largely around what is available at the market in order to maintain a menu that is somewhat seasonal. The majority of what I sampled was reminiscent of my travels through Spain, which is valid given that Rosenberg lived just outside Madrid when beginning his career. He cites time spent with his grandmother as his very first exposure to cooking at a young age. Rosenberg started working in a restaurant by the age of fourteen.
Most recently before heading the kitchen at NoMa, Rosenberg owned F.I.S.H. in Portchester; prior to that, he was the original chef at Barcelona in Greenwich. Rosenberg is grateful for the opportunity to have worked for various bosses in many different environments and cuisines, as he believes that exposure is essential for any aspiring chef.
Despite Rosenberg’s obvious prowess in the kitchen, he still faces the same dilemma as any parents with average culinary skills: how to satisfy three picky children who each require starkly different meals. He says he keeps his cooking at home simpler, noting roasted chicken as a staple in his family. I anticipate it will not be too long before his children grow to appreciate the breadth of their father’s culinary talent!