I have grown a fondness and respect Mexican cuisine ever since I went to Cabo last summer. I do admit, I don’t normally make my way out to Alphabet City of East Village but a friend suggested heading out to Matilda.
Matilda is a small, family owned restaurant that claims to be a Mexican-Tuscan restaurant. The menu reads mostly Mexican cuisine with very subtle nuances of Italian but nevertheless, a guest and I went head-on to eat some of their dishes.
We ordered their special of the day, chicken taquitos ($10) with covered in a trio of sauces – fresh guacamole, a white sour cream-based sauce, and marinara sauce and a quesadilla with mozarella, shrimp, corn and epazote ($10). Both are tasty dishes. The taquitos were nicely fried though the chicken was a little dry. The sauces were great compliments (I adored the guacamole the most) but the marinara was forgettable. The quesadilla was generous with the mozzarella cheese that it kind of dominated the shrimp but I did enjoy the sweet corn mixed in there.
The Spinacini al Gorgonzola ($12) is a large plate of fresh baby spinach, crispy pancetta, almonds and a gorgonzola-roasted poblano dressing. This salad is not difficult to like. A good amount of crisped pancetta and almonds mixed with tender spinach leaves. I just wished this dressing was diluted a bit as it were thick glops that clung onto certain parts of the salad but at least it was had the wonderful pungent flavor of the gorgonzola (I didn’t really detect the poblano peppers).
Braised short ribs in ancho chile and guava sauce ($22), served with mashed potatoes was the best dish of the evening. The short ribs were fork tender and succulent and I loved the mildly spicy-sweet sauce it was simmered in.
The sandwich called Piccante con Gamberoni ($12), a focaccia filled with sauteed shrimp, guacamole, and spicy vegetables in oil and vinegar is an odd ode to the Mexican torta. The focaccia bread was on the griddle a little too long that the bottom piece of the bread was tough to chew but the filling was pretty great and I liked the heat from the spicy pickled vegetables. If the kitchen stuck with the traditional torta bread, I would imagine it would be fantastic.
For dessert, we had a prettily plated orange hibiscus sorbet, Mexican chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream ($8) that has a whimsically carved strawberry dusted in powdered sugar. The sorbet was wonderfully tart but a tad icy. The Mexican chocolate was good but maybe a bit too chewy in texture; dulce de leche ice cream was the best of the three, as it was super creamy, not too sweet, and delicious.
If the restaurant stuck with its Mexican roots I think it would succeed in its dishes a lot more than the quasi-strange Italian accented flavors (that I barely taste regardless). Prices are generally reasonable and the food is solid even with its quirky accent.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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