By Mark Thompson
As every home cook knows, sometimes the simplest dishes are the best—and sometimes the best are those learned from a chef.
For the past two decades, foodies have followed Brooklyn-born Chef Franklin Becker on his gastronomic odyssey throughout New York. Becker has been chef at Abe & Arthur’s, Catch, Lexington Brass, and Capitale. His cuisine has been so widely acclaimed that he is now a recognizable fixture on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.
Becker’s latest culinary adventure has landed at Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus, which extends from 129th to 133rd Streets on Broadway. Situated within the five-cuisine food hall known as Manhattanville Market, Oliva Tapas is a separate restaurant on the upper level with its own entrance for dinner dining—and a happy hour that easily stretches into an evening reminiscent of those enjoyed in Spain.
A traditional comfort food in many Spanish and Mexican households, fideo (or noodle in English) is one of those dishes that can be served as a main or a side, or even as a soup—and everyone’s favorite fideo is the one they recall from childhood. Vermicelli noodles (or capellini) are toasted in oil until they’re crunchy and then coated in a tomato-based broth.
Chef Becker’s version called Cangrejo Fideos (or Crab Noodles) is served in its own pan beneath a mound of crabmeat and dollops of aioli, along with a lemon, flecked with paprika. The server will tell you to stir it up—but take a moment (or a photo) because this dish deserves its moment in the spotlight.
Becker’s Cangrejo Fideos hits all its marks with a toothsome crunch like the layer of socarrat at the bottom of the paella, accompanied by the sweetness of the crab and the luscious creaminess of the aioli, all complemented by a spritz of tart lemon and smoky paprika. Becker and his chef de cuisine Chris Strelnick have created a fideo that rivals the best of any beloved family recipe—and one that many families might attempt to recreate and claim as their own.
3229 Broadway (130th Street)
Featured Dish: Cangrejo Fideos (Crab Noodles) – $21.00
Tue – Thu & Sun 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
We never know who will send in a review of their favorite local dish. Mark Thompson is an editor, journalist, and photographer whose work appears in Travel Weekly, Huffington Post, and other periodicals. He’s also an award-winning novelist with a PhD. When we thanked him for his contribution, he wrote, “I’m so happy that I could assist WSR, which is always such a joy to receive and read.” Thanks Mark!
Here’s the Dish is a reader-written column that appears every Wednesday. Please send a review of your favorite local dish to westsiderag at gmail.com. We don’t expect everyone to be a professional writer! A simple paragraph or two and a photograph would be great. For examples, you can read all of our Here’s the Dish columns here.