Latin Style Restaurants in NYC
June 2006
By Linda Kavanagh

Carne de Cerdo - (Yes, that means pork!)

“Latin Americans are serious about their pork. The taste of tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked pork is a staple, as well as a talent of Latin chefs and home cooks around the world.” - Chef Todd Coleman of the Institute of Culinary Education in NY. Most popular class is the whole roasted sucking pig night!

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Since 1998, Calle Ocho, a high energy Cuban inspired restaurant and gathering place, has been presenting their brand of traditional Latin cuisine, in addition to more modern interpretations. Bold statements are made with color, depth, and creativity in both the food and the atmosphere at this uptown oasis. It’s non-descript exterior gives way to a world of flavors, sights and sounds. Exposed brick walls, swooping scalloped skylights, and colorful u-shaped banquet booth seating fill up this rather large dining room. A great start to an evening of food and fun is with Calle’s potent Agua Luca Caipirinha cocktail, made with just -squeezed limejuice and ultra-premium rum. Wow!

The menu, created by consulting Chef Alex Garcia, features vibrantly fresh seafood ceviches, a popular table starter. With over 10 to choose from, our favorite was the Peruano with sliced fluke, Aji Amarillo, grilled sweet potato, and pickled jalapenos. Puerto Rican rum glazed shrimp and their signature datiles of bacon wrapped almond stuffed dates with hearts of palm and blue cheese were both fabulously flavorful appetizers. While there are many fresh fish dishes to choose from, including a tasty pumpkin seed crusted Mahi-Mahi with mango-papaya crab salsa, it was those wonderful pork dishes that we were there to indulge in.

Executive Chef Arturo Leonard prepares a scrumptious Chancho, a Yucatan style braised pork shank served with papas rusticas (potatoes) and cactus salad. You must give in to the surrounding fat as this is what makes this dish sing, adding a layer of decadence to the perfectly seasoned meat. Chef Arturo, so as not to overdo a good thing, prepares specials for specific days of the week. Lucky us – we were there on a Sunday to enjoy the Pernil, crispy Cuban pork with Vigoron slaw (a Nicaraguan dish of pickled cabbage, tomatoes and onions) with steamed yuca and garlic mojo. Again, the pork fat played a major role in this dish, yet the crispy fat did not overshadow the tender meat. Gone are the days of dry pork meat, now cooked to an appropriate “medium” slightly pink center. Tuesday is when the Lomo comes to the table; an Adobo rubbed pork loin served with tobacco onion rings and roasted corn salsa. The leaner loin cut may not be as fatty or as tasty, but the salty/spicy Adobo blend and slight char from the slow grilling makes up for it. Thanks to Chef Arturo we were able to combine our days and taste all three dishes – in the name of food journalism of course…

Calle Ocho
446 Columbus Avenue
Between 81st and 82nd Streets


Novo, Fonda Latina
Novo, Fonda Latina is a Latin style bistro created by restaurateur Brian Bellefeuille and, once again, Chef Alex Garcia, one of the nation’s leading Latino chefs.

The beaches of Latin America, by way of Miami Beach, influenced the restaurant’s design. A blend of wood, granite and marble, and a waterfall cascading down copper sheets is reminiscent of the green patina created by water on rocks - bringing Mother Nature indoors for an almost alfresco experience in the confines of the city’s Hudson Square neighborhood. The Refresca Bar is fabulous cocktail retreat with thirst-quenching Limonadas (fresh fruit-infused limeade muddled with kiwi, strawberry, tropical fruit, blood orange, or passion fruit) and fresh fruit-infused Aguas Frescas (water sweetened with melon, tamarind, papaya, panela, ginger or guava). Latin American smoothies or Batidos are blended with milk and offered in flavors such as mamey, mango, guanabana, banana, or trigo.

The tapas style menu offers single items priced accordingly or, even better, the option to choose 4 plates from each portion of the menu (ceviches, platos frios and calientes) for one price. A few of Garcia’s most memorable creations include: Novo Hamachi Tiradito (yellowtail, yuzu juice, Serrano chili, roasted sweet cherry tomato), Ensalada de Esparagos Blancos (grilled white asparagus, pan roasted creminis, Tetilla cheese gratin), Croquetas de Jamon, Bacalao y Pollo (ham-cod fish and chicken croquette, lemon-aji amarillo allioli), and Tortilla Espanola con Langosta (Maine lobster, Spanish omelet with Romesco sauce).

But this article is about the pork – the Novo way of preparing pork, to be precise. An innovative pork dish lead the way with San Esteban Canelones, oven baked pork cannelloni prepared with “Gran Reserva Torres Brandy” sauce. Think pulled pork wrapped in light pasta sheets wading in a tangy spiked pool of sauce. Yep, imagine that? Pork Loin A la Plancha (cooked on a wooden plank) is an almost classic preparation, keeping the method and the seasoning simple, allowing the true pork flavor to shine. Piquillo Mojo, Olive Chimichurri, and a cheesy Spanish Fondue are a few lively sauces that are served, jazzing up the meat just a tad. Side dishes include yucca croquettes, spinach Catalan, white asparagus, and patatas bravas, which are boiled potatoes with a spicy, paprika-infused sauce.

Oh, and let’s not overlook the chorizo. Chorizo is a pork sausage originating from Spain. It is made from coarsely chopped fatty pork and usually seasoned with chili and paprika. It’s the Spanish paprika that gives this sausage its characteristic flavor, just as fennel is characteristic of Italian sausage, in sweet and hot variations, and hung in cold dry places to cure. Often prepared with sweet accountremants such as dried fruits (dates and figs), the flavor contrasts are typical for Latin inspired dishes. Novo features Cocido de Chorizo, served with potatoes, olives, and orange rind – sweet and savory, as with all things Novo.

Novo, Fonda Latina
290 Hudson Street


Sala - Bowry and Sala - One Nine
Since May of 1999, New York’s East Village has been home to the city’s most authentic Spanish style villa eatery, Sala. Known for their fabulous parties, both locations are consistently booked with private parties, offering special event rooms, communal tapas style menus, and some of the best Latin music in the city. Our favorite pork and Serrano ham dishes include:

Plato Fiambre Español (serrano ham, chorizo, sobrasada, cabrales and manchego cheese)

Croquetas De Jamón (serrano ham croquettes)

Chuletas De Cerdo En Adobo (grilled 12oz pork chop in adobo)

Alcachofas con Jamon (artichokes from Navarra sateed with garlic and Serrano ham),

Chorizo Frito (grilled chorizo)

Croquetas de Jamón Serrano (recipe)

Sala, Bowry
344 Bowry at Great Jones Street

Sala, One Nine
35 West 19th Street


Linda Pernice Kavanagh
MaxEx Public Relations, LLC

102 Alton Road
Stamford, CT 06906
P 203.323.4185 F 4183

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