Dominican Heritage Month takes place in the United States, especially in New York, in the weeks surrounding the Dominican Republic’s Independence Day of February 27. The New York State Legislature just honored Dominican baseball star Pedro Martínez, but I’m not much of a baseball fan and I am actually of Puerto Rican background, so I prefer to honor our brothers and sisters from Hispaniola by doing what I do best: eating.
A new Dominican takeout joint opened recently in Westbury and my son and I have graciously checked it out for Edible Long Island readers on multiple occasions, just to be sure. And sí señoras y señores, Punta Cana Dominican Grill on Post Avenue is the real deal.
Opened by Westbury native John Romero just two months ago with the help of his mom, Lisette Romero, (both of John’s parents are Dominican) and his fiancé Jenna Toron, Punta Cana features perníl (Dominican pulled pork), mofongo (mashed green plantain with or without chicharrón, pork crackling), arroz con gwandules (pigeon peas and rice), empanadas and some seriously good rice and beans, all at very reasonable prices.
This is authenic Spanish Caribbean casual eating: excellent, hearty, well-seasoned but-not-spicy meals that can be packed up and brought to home or office, in portions so large that leftovers are a given. A Cana bowl of rice and beans, meat or veggie and a side (get the tostones – fried green plantain disks) goes for just $7.50 or double the portion for just $1.50 more. “People say I am crazy to do that,” says John Romero. “But we are known for our generosity with food and I am keeping up that tradition.” You can also eat-in at the luncheonette-type tables.
Cognoscenti of Latin Caribbean food will want to know that sanchocho (root vegetable and meat stew) and mondongo (tripe stew) are on the menu Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There is also snapper, salmon and lobster on Fridays; for these I recommend calling ahead because they sell out fast. Flan is made in-house and the tres leches and Dominican cake are made locally. ¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Dominicana!
Punta Cana Dominican Grill
162 Post Avenue, Westbury NY 11590 516-280-4099
Open Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Natalia de Cuba Romero offers simple recipes for Spanish Caribbean food and more at her blog Hot, Cheap & Easy.