Highlights from My Meal at Arthur: The Best Octopus I’ve Had Outside of Spain

Spanish octopus “ala plancha”

When I dined at Arthur, the sustainably-minded Italian-American restaurant that opened on Smith Street this spring, I had high hopes.  Chef Joe Isidori is known on Long Island for his radical devotion to local seafood and produce at Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton (read our profile of the Michelin-starred chef in Edible East End here.). Not surprisingly, every bite was delicious.  Wonderful both in texture and taste, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my meal.  Neither could my dinner companion.

“This is the best octopus I’ve had outside of Spain,” she told our waitress.  (And that’s not a compliment she throws around lightly.  We used to live in Spain and pulpo a la gallega was her favorite tapa request.)

The hardest part was that we’d decided to share our plates.  As we played the ‘no, you can have that last bite’ game with our starters, I was torn between snagging the last snippet of the Spanish grilled octopus–sustainably caught without trawls off the coast of the Canary Islands–or taking what little remained of the escarole salad, which was dressed like a Caesar and topped with house-cured sardines, a farm egg and pecorino.  (She got the octopus; I got the salad.)

Luckily, our second course was just as scrumptious.  In one dish, local littleneck clams paired with Berkshire pork sausage, wild broccoli rabe and preserved lemon for a surprisingly bright dish that wasn’t heavy at all.  In another, heaps of thick, chewy buccatini pasta were doused in a sweet amatriciana tomato sauce and topped with Rhode Island squid and Tamworth bacon.

Thank the gods I saved room for dessert.  Caramelized peaches atop fluffy mascarpone cheese flecked with freshly ground black pepper and garnished with a crunchy anise and almond-scented biscotti.  Need I say more?

If you haven’t tried Arthur yet, do.  And stop by Edible Escape, our October celebration of flavors around the world where we’ll have samples from Chef Joe and his crew.


Michael Harlan Turkell

Michael Harlan Turkell is a former photo editor of Edible Brooklyn, who walked the borough in sights of cultural cuisine at its best. Now he travels the world doing the same, bringing these ideas and foods to light as a photographer.

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