Vareli in Morningside Heights is a Welcome Addition to the Upper West Side Dining Scene
If you don’t mind wading through clots of soused Columbia Students, Vareli in Morningside Heights is a nice spot for some of the best food on the Upper West Side.
The restaurant, which specializes in Mediterranean-themed small dishes dishes and tapas, is situated on the ground floor of the building that also houses that long-time Columbia drinking spot, The Heights. So if you want to avoid the weekend scrum, best to try this place on a weeknight.
Inside, the decor is plain but the food makes up for it. It’s very good and it’s consistent. I ate at Vareli’s about a year ago and had a delicious meal then too. Friday night, I selected roasted baby beets with kefalograviera cheese, pine nuts, and pickled onions and red beet coulis. The salad was tasty but the texture was a bit mushy, not what I expect from a beet salad.
Then, I tucked into some of the best grill octopus I’ve eaten anywhere. Unlike many versions of this dishes which can be tough and rubbery, this preparation was tender, moist and flavorful. It was helped along by Moroccan olives, serrano peppers and a bed of labneh yogurt.
My hubby chose pan seared scallops. He’s very fussy about his scallops. Mostly, we only eat them on the North Fork, right off the boat. But these were remarkably tender and delicious.
Entrées are mostly in the $20 range. Small plates are in the single digits or low teens.
2869 Broadway, New York 10025
(Btwn 111th & 112th St)