Mediterranean Cruise

Melibea swings through the Mediterranean

You'd need three days, a custom ras el hanout blend, and a master class in plating food to cook Jesús Núñez's lamb tagine ($28).

Or you could just dine at the new Melibea in the West Village.

There, couscous sits under garbanzo beans, bits of dried plum, a swoop of yogurt, and hunks of lamb shoulder that yield beautifully under the influence of time, technique and a fork (no knife necessary here).

At Melibea, Núñez's menu sails for the Mediterranean, pulling flavors from Italy, Greece, Israel and North Africa. Here and at his more straightforwardly Spanish restaurant, the neighboring Barraca, the native Spaniard has tightened the deconstructed flourishes of his cooking from his time at the now-closed Graffiti.

Nonetheless, the overly modern touches he does still employ, as with Study of Tomato ($17) and the roasted fennel with white chocolate ($11), don't wholly succeed.

But there's no denying the suppleness of that lamb; the spot-on taste of hummus beautifully speckled with beets, lemon zest and a haze of pimentón de la vera ($8); and the delightful sweet-and-spiciness of raisins and spiked mayo scattered over fried cauliflower ($7).