Gourmet Archive >>


REVIEW: Brunch with a Side of Surprise at Ooviña

I used to think I’d rather walk on my lips than eat gluten free. Then along came Ooviña.
By Paul Hagen

Chef/Owner Giovanni Morales and Co-owner Stephen Hoover

Chef/Owner Giovanni Morales and Co-owner Stephen Hoover



On a chilly Sunday morning, my fiancé and I were the first to arrive for brunch at Ooviña (496 Ninth Ave, NY, oovinanyc.com). It just so happens that he had on a purple pullover and I was wearing a shirt and tie in shades of lavender. Little did we know we had accidentally dressed to match the restaurant’s design scheme — which includes a crew of handsome, friendly waiters sporting purple shirts and snazzy, patterned bow ties. We laughed over the coincidence and settled into a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the Ninth Avenue people-watching, as soft purple light reflected off an artful mass of vines overhead.

Our next colorful surprises came in the form of Ooviña’s bottomless brunch cocktails. Too often such specials seem exciting in prospect but skimp on quality in execution. Not so here. The juice in the bellinis and mimosas tastes fresh and rich — paired with bubbly that nicely rounds out their flavor. The Bloody Mary is nicely seasoned, with a great kick of horseradish and no sign of my arch-enemy, superfluous celery garnish. And the margarita postively bursts with tongue-tingling lime.

However, it is the food that has drawn us to sample Ooviña. The eatery was conceived by Executive Chef/Owner Giovanni Morales and co-owner Stephen Hoover in the mode of tapas — a place to enjoy small plates along with wine and cocktails. The twist? Not only is the menu gluten free, but it’s also designed so that — if a diner didn’t know this — they would not be able to spot the difference. In this regard, the Ooviña succeeds tremendously. They don’t hide the fact that the dishes are gluten free — both the menu and the wait staff point it out with pride. It’s more like a magic trick: You thought something couldn’t be this delicious and gluten free but — voila!

Chorizo Breakfast Tacos

Chorizo Breakfast Tacos



In the spirit of tapas, we began by sampling each of the restaurant’s array of tacos and were met by delight after well-balanced delight. Our favorite was the steak: a fantastic blend of savory meat, bright mango and a sauce with tongue-tingling kick. A close second was the pork loin taco; the pork is offered in tiny cubes which maximize their salty, crunchy surface area. The perfect shrimp in the shrimp taco are plump and beautifully prepared. A creamy sauce adorns the purple cabbage atop the chicken taco — calling to mind a delicious chicken salad, and yes, you can really taste the jalepeño in the sausage of the tasty breakfast burrito. I must, however, reserve high praise for the vegan burrito. I am not one to order anything vegan nor a fan of tofu — but here, the tofu cubes arrive in an inviting sauce reminiscent of excellent barbecue and receive added crunch from crisp apples.

Though already fairly sated, we moved on to main courses. Eggs Benedict is a favorite of mine, and I generally am a fan of almost any variation. But I will say, news of an “eggless hollandaise” left me a bit concerned. I need not have been. That sauce — brimming with parmesan, bacon and garlic goodness — absolutely makes this plate, which also includes two beautifully poached eggs, grilled pork loin (not too salty), gluten free cheese toast (once again I could have mistaken it for the normally gluten-full kind), and a generous pile of papas picadas, which — like the pork in the aforementioned taco — seem to have been cut specifically to maximize crunchy, delicious surface area.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict



But perhaps the nicest surprise of all was the Tres Leches Waffle. Its star is a house-made gluten free waffle, which went above and beyond masquerading as “not gluten free.” It was far better than most gluten-rich waffles I’ve ever been served. The vanilla cream cheese frosting is to-die-for, and what could be a more appropriate way to end our very purple brunch than with one more dash of the color in the form of a tongue-tantalizing mixed-berry compote for added zing? Scrumptious barely begins to describe it.

While there are many places to have brunch in New York City, there are few that so beautifully take on the challenge of dietary restrictions (from vegan to gluten free) and create fare that one would never think to describe as restricted. Each and every member of the staff greeted us with genuine enthusiasm, and — with a full wall projection lighting the back of the restaurant, the ever-watchable citizens of New York parading past the front windows, and a bouncy dance soundtrack begging us to shimmy in our seats — I’d be hard pressed to describe a more delightful environment in which to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Ooviña

Ooviña



Ooviña is located in Hell’s Kitchen at 496 Ninth Ave, NYC. For hours, menus, and reservations visit oovinanyc.com though brunch is served Sundays from 12–4pm.

Metrosource is a glossy lifestyle and entertainment magazine geared towards the modern metropolitan gay community. Metrosource has three editions: New York, Los Angeles and National. For more great articles like this, subscribe here or download Metrosource for iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle.

View Gourmet Archive

Leave a Reply

Our Articles

Our Business Directory


NY    LA    National


GET US HOW YOU WANT US