Casa d'Paco is the type of Spanish restaurant that New York City dearly needs more. Like La Nacional Tapas Bar before their ongoing renovation, the place caters to Spanish people, has authenticity through and through, and is not a factory. For the people in the Ironbound section of Newark, a truly special restaurant is easily available. For the rest of us, get a group together and make your way over for an outstanding meal.
Warwick Street and this section of the Ironbound District are far removed from the hustle of Ferry Street and its multiple bars and restaurants on every block. It seems to be created in a building that was a residential property like all the rest on the street, but opening the doors is like a change of worlds. On a late Sunday afternoon when we visited, the place was almost at capacity and seems to be a local favorite enjoyed for decades. It is surprise to learn it is barely over a year old.
Tapas start arriving at the bar free when you order drinks.
Our group of four decided to stay at the bar and eat, taken care of by a very good bartender in a Spanish football jersey. They have Estrella Galicia on tap and from the remarks online make some mean sangria. We saw multiple tables ordering their paella and decided early on to follow form, complementing our feast with the following tapas:
Dátiles rellenos de almendra y bacon ($8)
Patatas bravas ($6)
Pinchos morunos ($6)
Croquetas de jamón ibérico ($6)
Pulpo a galega ($10)
The menu is long, without line spacing, and somewhat overwhelming at first. Double this for regular customers because they constantly change the list of tapas, so many of the orders you see above might not be available when you visit. I recommend taking your time to read through everything and having a conversation with the people who work here, as they all seem to be very comfortable with the menu and will point you in the right direction.
Recommended most from the five items above are the dates, full of almonds and bacon and the sweetness and bacon-y-ness that this entails, and the octopus which is served Galician-style.
The paella Casa d'Paco ($30, below) is in a world of its own with half a lobster, a gigantic shrimp and large mussels, as well as scallops, clams, squid, chicken and chorizo.
A pair of lobster crackers are brought with the dish, as the shell is still intact and does require a bit of work. Our group of four had no feeling of not getting enough, and this dish would definitely be sufficient for a couple dining alone. I am uncertain how any meal here could go without an order of paella after trying this one, but there are other choices for mains.
There are televisions with football and I saw a few patrons with jerseys as well. I cannot wait to return here in June for the Euro Cup, a championship the Spanish will be keen on capturing for the third straight time.