When entrepreneur Rex Tanlin surveyed Brooklyn to find the perfect place to open a new bar/eatery; capitalizing on his success as a sommelier at Grand Prospect Hall, and briefly, behind the scenes at Nobu New York, he saw a well-worn field.
“It definitely seemed like everywhere I looked, people were trying to do a watered-down version of what I was trying to create. I really questioned my originality, but also I just questioned the marketplace, and finally asked myself, ‘Where am I most needed?’”
Rex immediately saw an opportunity in Shang Heights, opening La Rioja two weeks ago, to fill a niche that had long been missing and that, for the majority of us who have longed for a low-key date night spot, was sorely needed.
“I spent a lot of time in Spain this last year, sampling the different flavors of the regions. It was such a change from the comfort food-type of dishes that I had been used to creating.” “I decided then and there that I had to bring this kind of food back to Brooklyn.”
What Rex brought back cannot be described. A converted subterranean space with an all wood surface made from reclaimed upstate barn beams that are as warm and fleshy as your date; a playful menu which includes creamy clam and potato tartlets garnished with parsely foam and candied onions; and a wine list that is beyond eclectic (Vietnamese rice wine? Yes please) but not beyond affordable.
“You’ll see a lot of Spanish wines that you know, but then also ones that you don’t, and some where you’re like, ‘what is THAT doing on this list?!’, but they all pair really amazingly with our dishes.”
Candlelight, great wine, fun food: the perfect cheek-to-cheek spot for you and your lady or fella. La Rioja and King Rex reigns!
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 6:00-11:00/ Friday-Saturday, 8:00-1:00
5520 7th Avenue, 11220
347 392 4488