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Black Tree

These meatmeisters turn to produce for creative summer fare

By Molly Aronica

This cozy spot on Orchard Street is best known for its meat-filled offerings, turning out anything from pork belly sandwiches to duck rillettes. For a change of pace, this month Black Tree has been shifting its focus toward summer produce. In fact, only four dishes out of the 20 on the menu include meat at all. But no matter what’s being featured, the premium on grabbing a table here remains high—and it’s worth the wait.

Beginning with a soft, fresh corn tortilla, tacos are topped with sweet corn, roasted poblano peppers and red onions, cilantro, and scallions. The vegetables are then drizzled with both a tangy yogurt sauce and a bracing chimichurri made with super-fruity olive oil. Everything comes together for the perfect bite, as if everything has been picked immediately from the farm and prepared just then.

For burrata lovers in New York City, seeing “DiPalo’s” on a menu is always a great sign. The creamy ball of mozzarella, made down the street in Little Italy, is marinated in olive oil (the same stuff they use to make the chimichurri), sea salt, and black pepper then topped with edible flowers and served with toasted ciabatta. Challenge yourself to hold back from devouring the whole thing—if only because there are so many other incredible bites on the menu to try.

Fried “rice” is a classic on the Black Tree menu, though the ingredients and “rice” components are always changing. The version on offer right now includes freekah and a melange of oyster mushrooms, snap peas, carrots, scallions, and eggs. This dish lives and dies by the quality of the produce, which in this case is exceptional—the rainbow carrots are so juicy that the texture is almost like sweet summer squash, and the peas are so fresh they’re still in their pods.

The bulk of the larger dishes on the menu are sandwiches—think toasted ciabatta rolls slathered with creamy, tangy ricotta then piled high with thick slices of watermelon and bits of pickled rind, with a drizzle of aged balsamic and chocolate mint leaves to top it off. Meat eaters can add bacon to the mix for a sweet, juicy, salty, porky masterpiece.

You may want a beer or two to go along with your food, and Black Tree has a curated selection of draft beers—most of them local—that will do the trick. And while you’re at it, why not start or end your meal with a pickleback that’s sure to be unlike one you’ve ever had before—the bartenders pair pickle juice from whatever the kitchen is pickling currently. Pickled beet juice paired with tequila, anyone?
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Mon–Tue 5 PM–midnight; Wed–Thu noon–midnight; Fri–Sun noon–2 AM

price range

$13 (Summer Mushroom²) to $16 (summer pig)