168 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★
Cards: All Major
Hours: Mon-Thu, 5pm-midnight; Fri, 5pm-1am; Sat, 11am-1am; Sun, 11am-midnight
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Bedford Ave.
NY Mag says:
Appropriately situated near the Williamsburg waterfront, Rosarito Fish Shack features open air windows, sea-creature wallpaper, and decorative raw bar. The menu begins with tacos: overstuffed tiny tortillas that come two to an order, including classic pescado, short rib and avocado, huitlacoche mushroom, and even camarones al pastor. Well-spiced ceviches are fresh, citrusy and bursting with flavor. Mezcal, from the attached tequila bar, makes its way onto the menu in the glazed tuna entree, tender and accompanied by a tempura pepper hidden under a mushroom salad. Two jumbo lump crab cakes are generously sized, encased by a thin layer of crisp breading, and stacked beside a tower of forgettable truffle fries. The ambitious shack stew mixes octopus, shrimp, mussels, clams, white fish, and even chorizo with rice. For dessert, “Tiramex-su” puts a spicy twist on the Italian classic by means of Mexican cacao and tequila-infused lady fingers. Bar stays open until 2 a.m. on Friday and 4 a.m. on Saturday
Village Voice says:
Quibbles about concept and décor aside, the fish tacos ($11) are quite good. Two to an order, mini-tortillas enfold fingers of fried flounder, chili arbol salsa, pickled purple onions, and tidbits of fried pork skin. Creamy avocado tacos are a further gloppy surprise, heaped with fava beans, pickled jalapeños, strips of slippery cactus, and crescents of deep-fried alligator pear, as the oily green fruit was once known. You’ll notice the ungainly stuffing-topping combos have a certain Guy Fieri quality about them. Taco prices range as high as $16 for lobster, which comes smeared with something called “Vietnamese salsa.” Dudes, you’re on the wrong side of the ocean!
Further throwing the limited menu of a real Baja fish shack to the winds, Rosarito treats tacos as only one of several attractions, also offering snacks, raw seafood, ceviches, entrées, sides, espresso-based beverages, and desserts. The quality of the food runs from delicious to deplorable, so you must plot your meal carefully, like a sloop tacking into a stiff nor’easter. The whole deep-fried sea bass (market price, $29) looks magnificent as it toddles up, the crumbed flesh pulled away from the flanks for easy picking. A slit in the top spills over with slaw, and the milky eyes bulge out fiercely, like a sumo wrestler’s. Don’t miss the cheeks; they’re the best part.
By contrast, the octopus frankfurter ($10) looks disgusting. The muscular arm sticks out of the bun like a small penis with a bacon foreskin, and multiple sticky sauces only temporarily obscure just how tough the protuberance is. Awful, too, is an ocean-themed burger that relies upon a seafood sausage patty that has all the appeal of a dog toy. By contrast, the raw bar is a thing of beauty as you enter the dining room and first spot it. A tray tilted your way is loaded with mollusks and crustaceans up to their necks in crushed ice. The oyster service ($12 for six) is great and reasonably priced, the perfectly opened bivalves accompanied by mignonette and horseradish-scented ketchup. Use a squeeze of lemon instead.
On the other hand, the ceviches tend to be soupy messes of difficult-to-indentify species, more Peruvian than Mexican. You’re always better off avoiding dishes featuring mixtures of seafood at Rosarito. The worst example is enchiladas de mariscos ($18), a main course. In spite of a sauce said to contain lobster and chilies, the pair of wrapped tortillas led one friend to turn up her nose in disdain. “Cat food,” she sniffed. Indeed, some of the best things on the menu contain no seafood at all, including a pair of quesadillas configured like empanadas, bulging with poblano pepper strips and zucchini flowers. Getting a little fancy and also a little Italian for a Mexican seafood shack, the fettuccine with crab ($18) offers a fine quantity of both, enough for two to share as an entrée.
Ignore that the flavorless crab doesn’t penetrate its cream sauce: You’re sitting in comfortable surroundings a short block from a body of water connected to the ocean, the breezes are blowing, and you’re eating seafood. What more do you want?