1, 2, 3 at 14th St.; L at Sixth Ave.
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“Mediterranean” can connote many things: fresh octopus pulled from the water near a sleepy Sicilian fishing town to $8 waters sold in the clubs of Ibiza. While Melibea tries to fall somewhere in the middle, the fact that the house music starts thumping at 7:30 p.m. should give you an indication of which side it’s closer to. The room is a mishmash of Spanish tiles, hardwood floors, and modernist touches, though your eye is constantly drawn to the well-lit Abaresque shape carved into the wall behind the bar (a wall shared by the tapas restaurant Barraca; same owners). The food is uneven; the classic and the contemporary are pressed together by chef Jesús Núñez with varying degrees of success. The elegantly presented salmon and scallop carpaccio could use fewer toppings (and better salmon), and it’s weakened by an adventurous but misguided scoop of almond ice cream. The “Study of Tomato” salad, delivering varied incarnations of the fruit, is a better experiment, but your best bets here are still the simplest dishes: stuffed, smoked mozzarella is perfectly balanced with olive oil and tomato confit; a lamb tagine is at once hearty and delicate. The wine list is appropriately packed with big flavors, while the liter-size bottle of Estrella Damm Inedit beer from El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià is subtle and delicious.Recommended Dishes
Creamy stuffed mozzarella served with tomato confit, fresh herbs, and focaccia, $13; lamb tagine over couscous, garbanzo beans, dried plums, yogurt, mint, and harissa, $28