For some, octopus might be an acquired taste, but, at its best, it’s a chewy, meaty treat. The restaurants below serve our five favorite versions of octopus in New York City. Belly up to a table, and dig in. By Jessica Allen.
Beyoglu specializes in mezes of the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on Turkey. These small dishes of various salads and meats are served all at once, with oodles of plump pita. The vegetarian option boasts what we believe to be the city’s best take on spinach. But we digress. Let’s talk about the octopus salad, aka the Ahtapot Salatasi, in which the octopus is both char-grilled and marinated in lemon, vinegar, and olive oil.
Arguably one of the most romantic, transporting restaurants in all of Brooklyn, Convivium Osteria looks like a medieval taverna on the inside. It features the kind of warm light that makes everyone look good. The food too, including the yum-tastic pulpo asado con judiones de la granja. First, the baby octopus meets the grill, then it’s introduced into a salad of tomatoes, creamy white beans, and small pieces of celery and red onions, and then it’s gently bathed in olive oil.
Santos Anne lets you jump on the kale bandwagon while offering you tasty chunks of octopus and calamari, both seared. The kale caesar at this French-Mexican (yes, really) restaurant in Brooklyn combines chorizo, chopped kale and romaine, and wild plums with two fruits of the sea. It’s refreshing and healthy (thanks to the greens) and satisfying (thanks to the octopus) and slightly spicy (thanks to the horseradish-esque dressing). For a truly delightful evening, sit outside in the restaurant’s garden.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
Bad news first: Torrisi Italian Specialties doesn’t always have octopus. Its menu changes frequently, depending on market availability and seasonality. The good news: when octopus does appear, it’s some of the best in the city. Pictured is octopus with shisito peppers, tomatoes, and pizza spice, the chewy octopus almost, but not quite, mimicking chewy crust of pizza. Recently on the prix fixe menu was octopus with crispy olives and potatoes.
Zenon Taverna is the kind of place where the regulars will walk up to a table of newcomers and coo over their baby, or recommend a dish, or just say hello. In other words, this Greek and Cypriot restaurant is all about community. It’s all about the seafood too, including a grilled octopus salad lightly dressed with vinegar and lemon. Also must-eat is the seafood salad, a lively mix of calamari, shrimp, octopus, crab, dill, and celery that comes with the massive Cypriot meze meal (pictured).