- Il Buco
47 Bond St.; 212-533-1932
Like arepas and tamales, empanadas are usually relegated to cheap street-food status—not a bad thing, certainly, but perhaps unduly limiting for a dish with such a long and pervasive history throughout Spain and Latin America, where it appears in different guises from country to country. The elegant empanadas at Il Buco are second nature to Uruguayan chef Ignacio Mattos, who changes his fillings seasonally, taking inspiration from around the world and his dough recipe (flour, water, lard) from Argentina, a country where every state has its own specialty and every cook his own repulgue, or signature crimp. At the moment, Mattos is alternating between two succulent seafood versions from Galicia—an oil-poached tuna with tomato and mojo rojo, and house-salted cod with golden raisins, which he serves with charmoula, the pungent Moroccan condiment made from cilantro and cumin. It’s a bit of a fusion approach, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a South American chef cooking in an Italian restaurant, with stints at Martin Berasategui and Chez Panisse under his belt.