Mezze, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern at Café Roval
Tall curly metal gates and an overgrown entryway welcome diners to Café Roval in Morningside/Upper East Side. Strolling along a winding stone path you enter the 1920’s genuine coral house with a storied past that includes a water pump station, private home, home for single women and a hair salon.
After sitting vacant, owner Mark Soyka, who also owns neighboring, Soyka and “car wash-turned-pizzeria”, Andiamo, snatched it up a couple years ago and has created a cozy, intimate spot complete with stone rimmed reflecting pools, lush tropical foliage, multiple indoor and outdoor dining areas and a newly created Tiki Cocktail bar.
Café Roval can provide a romantic dining experience (wedding proposals are a popular occasion on any given night), a special birthday or anniversary, or just a different and fun evening for a group of coworkers or friends. Romantic couples line the stone trimmed pools, older couples dine inside in the candlelit bistro café with coral walls adorned with vintage style art, and big groups like the privacy of the upper deck areas surrounded by palms and greens.
Chef Curtis Rhodes, who is originally from Hawaii, took the helm in the kitchen about a year ago, and transformed the menu into a mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian influenced items. And it works well in this unique setting as many items are shareable and offer a variety of flavors.
On a perfect Miami evening, six of us dined on one of the upper dining areas, under a foliage lined arbor. Our only complaint was the lack of lighting, which made reading the menu and then even visually seeing the food quite challenging. I encourage the owners look into some low lighting for the more remote dining areas.
The newly created cocktail menu is fun with names reminiscent of classic Jazz tunes, like the Misty named for a 1954 Jazz standard by pianist Errol Garner and is made with Sipsmith Gin, Fos Mastiha, Aperol and oregano simple syrup and is available from the bar and also in the newly designed Tiki Bar in the back garden.
And fortunately, in this lovely setting, the food did not disappoint. As we chose a number of starters to share and main courses.
The easiest shareable item was the classic Mediterranean Mezze which included separate dishes of Fava Bean Hummus and Tahini, Babaganoush, Fried Cauliflower, Falafel and house pickles and olives and a plate of seasoned warm pita bread. We also ordered Breaking Bread, a crispy herbed flatbread with a feta and tomato dipping sauce.
Another appetizer was the Grilled Octopus, which was tender and surrounded by a fresh tasting gigandes bean salad.
Our group also ordered and enjoyed the Butter Lettuce Wedge salad and the Lamb Meatballs and next visit I plan to try the Beef or Broccoli Schwarma as both came recommended by our server.
For mains, we opted to share Oriental Steamed Branzino, with bok choy and sesame oil, and the Smoked Short Rib with wild mushrooms, truffle and fava bean risotto.
But our favorite dish was the Moroccan Spiced Chicken with braised legumes and topped with an herbed yogurt. The mixture of the spices and the yogurt sauce was a delicious combination.
Other key dishes on the menu include the Paddle of Lamb for three or more, which comes with flaky bread, and couscous.
A very satisfying dinner, attentive service and pleasant surroundings awaits you at Café Roval. Café Roval is open for Happy Hour from 5 to 7pm with $7 drinks and appetizers like a lamb Laffa flatbread and Grilled chicken wings. Dinner begins at 5pm Café Roval is open for Sunday Brunch from 11am to 3pm.
5808 NE 4th Ct