For restaurateur Oscar Monegro Jr., bringing a Mamajuana Café to Huntington wasn’t just an brand expansion, it was a necessity.
“There’s no traditional Latin restaurant in the area, I’ve been living in Huntington for over 20 years and I go to a bodega on New York Avenue that has a steam table for Latino food. The neighborhood badly needs a Latino restaurant that provides authentic Hispanic recipes and dishes,” says Monegro, who is from the Dominican Republic.
Monegro, who has locations in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan and New Jersey, will be opening the first Mamajuana Cafe in Long Island at the site of the former Dragon Gate restaurant, at 555 Jericho Turnpike, which closed recently.
Mamajuana Cafe’s menu reflects cuisine from a variety of Latino countries from the Spanish speaking Caribbean Islands, South America and Central America.
According to Monegro, the dishes are made in true fashion of their origin country, such as the Ecuadorean style Ceviche, the Puerto Rican Mofonogo’s, the Dominican fried chiccharrones and sancocho, the chuletas, (Pork Chops) are seasoned with authentic Latino spices, chimichurri in churrasco, an authentic Argentine dish, bandeja paisa from Colombia.
“In Huntington, we will expand to offer a few El Salvadorian delicacies., Monegro said. “These entrees are served with rice and our authentic Dominican style beans or other choice of sides including, yucca mash, tostones, maduros just to name a few. However, perhaps one of the most unique dishes are their Latino sushi rolls, which infuse traditional Latino ingredients with Asian cuisine. “From roast pork to sweet plantains, we roll it up, top it with Spanish style and serve it as a roll.”
Mamajuana Cafe also serves several American dishes alongside their traditional Latino dishes. “We pride ourselves in quality steaks including hearty bone-in ribeye and skirt steaks, as well traditional seafood dishes. We have a lot of second-generation and non-Latinos guests that want their staple items.”
Every Sunday, the restaurant will host a ALL YOU CAN EAT Brunch Buffet with unlimited Mimosas for a 2 hour seating. And it will offer offers Dominican breakfast items including mangu, queso frito and fried salami, and nine or so other dishes.
Mamajuana Cafe gets its name from a drink unique to the Dominican Republic made with rum, red wine and honey mixture soaked in a bottle with various tree bark, herbs and spices. The drink evolved from its early form as a herbal tea prepared by the Taino Indians. In the post-Columbus era, alcohol was added to the recipe.
The restaurant is planning to open in mid-December, “We hope to open in 2018 but it’s a full-blown gut job inside and out. We need to take every single thing out: the kitchen, basement, bathroom and redo the whole interior and exterior. Mamajuana Cafe has a ‘look and feel’ and it’s all consistent between locations. It’s an old-world Spanish dark-wood, iron, stones ‘look and feel’ representative of the Spanish architecture found in the Colonial cities of the Caribbean” According to Monegro, however this space was ideal, because of its location on a busy street, an ample 55 car parking lot, and it being a standalone building.