Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mundo: Vegetarian Wonder of Astoria

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
My fellow vegetarians, come one, come all. And bring your carnivorous pals.

I had been avoiding Mundo because of some shameless promotion on one of the websites I frequent, but eventually we wandered in, mostly because we were underdressed for our first choice for the evening. Who knew it would be so blog-worthy?

Mundo is decorated simply but beautifully. It was *hot* outside, but comfy in the cool, plush (but not posh) interior. It's on 32nd Street, just South of Broadway.

This place reminds me of a younger, veggier, Cravo & Canela - a fabulous place that was open on 34th Av & 32nd Street - only for about 8 months, 2 years ago. Does anyone remember that place?

After we sat, the waiter/co-owner began explaining the menu. He had lots to tell. The food is Turkish-Brazilian and we were glad he gave us the scoop. He’s quite a chatty one. I know this place sounds uber trendy, but give it a chance. It’s super vegetarian-vegan-friendly, but without any of those groaty meat substitutes. I hate that "tofu-chicken" crap. Mundo has lots of interesting salads, grains, beans, & veggies. There is actual meat and fish on the menu, too. The plates are small, but rich and not expensive. It's easy to over-order.

When we sat, warm pita arrived accompanied by an olive oil with sumac and sesame seeds. They brought us a carrot and yogurt dip on the house (we were the only people there at the moment) which was *really* good.

Like all restaurants when they first open here, Mundo doesn't have their liqueur license yet. You are welcome to bring in wine or beer. We sipped Turkish soda - sweet, but with a funky kick.

Our artichokes were enormous, carved-out, and stuffed with peas, carrots and a pretty pearl onion. The fava bean pate was shaped into a butterfly and a tree! That’s the kind of presentation that makes me feel loved.

We had a salad of black-eyed peas and chopped veggies. It was a luxury on a hot day. The Red Sonia - sort of a moist bean and grain patty snuggled in lettuce leaves with fresh lemon juice on top - was veggie-vegan dream food. The shrimp were just warm shrimpy goodness. They came in a clay pot au gratin with a red sauce and were very fresh. If you eat fish, you must order them.

At this point the fresh-faced chef/co-owner popped out of the kitchen to say "hello". He told us that he's Turkish but tries to incorporate some Argentine and Brazilian elements into the food. That seems to work for him.

We declined dessert, but these two can't resist. They left us with a serving of delicious chocolate mouse. It was chocolate perfection. (Is there any other kind?) I had to skip ice cream on the way home. So much for that review.

This pair are running Mundo all on their own, and from what I can see, doing a bang-up job of it. I hate to write another rave review, but this place rocked.

Key points here: veggie-vegan-friendly, food was great, service was outstanding. A nice joint, but totally unpretentious. This is what I’m *talking* about, folks!


Doxy said...

Yes, I remember Cravo & Canela very well. It was a great place to eat. The two owners were a hoot to chat with. They were a couple, and I hear that they split up, and thats why the restaurant closed so quickly. Wonder if it was from the pressure of living and working together 24/7? Too bad we really liked the place.

Religiously have become a reader of Joey in Astoria. Think your blog is terrific. We tend to not eat out very much (we love to cook), but have been enjoying your reviews and tips about the restaurants in the neighborhood. Thanks for the heads up re:Baru. We walk by it everyday and had wondered how it was and also why there isn't a menu in the window. Now we know. And know not to try it.

Keep bloggin'!

Joey said...

Hi Doxy,

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who remembers! At the time we lived *right* around the corner from them and ate there all the time. What I wouldn't give for a picture. The food was simply genius. It makes me wonder how many tiny "undiscovered" places like this there must be throughout the City.

Toward the end, I thought they said that one of them (or their mother maybe?) was sick and they were moving to Puerto Rico where the one that cooked (I always mixed up which was Cravo and which was Canela) was from. Does that sound familiar?

We were very sad when the for rent sign went up. If you liked them, you'll like Mundo for sure.

Thanks for commenting!

Doxy said...

No, you are not alone in remembering this restaurant. Yes the food was terrific, and the space so cozy. At on point we knew of a contingent of about 15 guys from Manhattan that came out on a Saturday for dinner there. And they all thought the place was amazing as well (not sure how they all fit in there though - LOL). But you are right, it really does make you wonder what hidden restaurants there are in NYC that we just don't know about...but your site is helping us find out. Thank you.

I hadn't heard about someone being sick. But that could also explain C&C's early demise. Also, "Cravo and Canela" actually means "Clove and Cinnamon." I had originally thought that it was their last names, but they explained to us one night the actual meaning. We have tried to recall their first names but its not coming back to us. Also, about a year after the restaurant closed my other half was shopping at FYE in Rockefeller Center and ran into the younger one who was working there as a manager. But don't believe that he is still working there. We haven't seen him since.

But anyway.

We'll be sure to keep reading your site, and will be checking out Mundo.

Enjoy the summer and your gardening.


Anonymous said... food/story/319630p-273327c.html

Anonymous said...

Joey said...

oh yeah, I saw that. Thanks!

Mike in Astoria said...

One of the best recommendations yet. My girlfriend and I had a fantastic meal there last night and the service was so attentive. One of the best meals I've had in Astoria.


boy labyog said...

There's have any hamburger stand?

Laby[big & tall suits]