Dining at the Company Store

Grilled octopus with parsnip purée, shaved fennel, caramelized lemon, pimenton de la vera (Image: La Pulperia)

Over the last decade, Ninth Avenue in the low- to mid-forties has evolved into a hotbed of Latin restaurants. While it’s generally hard to have a bad meal at any of these places, one that stands out in terms of the scope of its offerings and skill in execution is La Pulperia.

The restaurant is named for the company stores found in the mining camps that were common in South America in the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth. Some of these outlets sold prepared food in addition to rations. Small shelves of Spanish-named food products found throughout the restaurant are a gesture to that tradition.

Image: AppleEats Staff

Salt cod, eaten in much of Latin America, often takes the form of croquetas de bacalao, which is how it is presented here. You get four of the little fritters, each on its own piped pedestal of sprightly citrus aïoli. Octopus is available three ways including as a “hot dog,” wrapped divertingly in bacon and delivered on a brioche bun slathered with a spicy kewpie mayo slaw.

Every culture it seems offers a seafood stew, known variously by names such as zuppa di pesce, bouillabaisse, and — in the case of Brazil — moqueca mixta. The dish as realized by La Pulperia combines big meaty shrimp, plump mussels and clams, and crispy discs of relatively mild Spanish chorizo in a savory coconut milk-thickened broth, the entirety garnished with a flavorful mound of green coconut rice.

Moqueca mixta (Image: La Pulperia)

Another blended dish, the Argentinian parrillada, brings together fat slabs of New York strip and skirt steak along with short ribs, chicken, chorizo, and the blood sausage morcilla, all graced by a zesty chimichurri. The dish, which is available for two, could easily satisfy a third and even fourth appetite.

The house offers an interesting and imaginatively presented assortment of cocktails. If you’re here on a first date, order your partner a Del Callao, not only because it artfully combines pisco, hibiscus, passion fruit, chile morita syrup, and lime juice into a refreshing mixed drink but because it arrives at the table in a glass pump with a 5-inch stiletto heel.

Del Callao (Image: AppleEats Sraff

Price range: Starters—$15 to $27; main dishes—$27 to $45; dessert—$12.

La Pulperia, 623 Ninth Ave (at 44th St.), 669-8984.