Casa Ventura, on corner of Seventh Avenue and Third Street, is now open!
Patch has followed the restaurant, which replaced (that only survived for one month), which replaced , from its to the day their copper topped bar, which specializes in rum, .
Casa Ventura, owned by Jose Ventura, his wife Devonna Middeleer and local proprietor Avi Kravitz, opened on Tuesday and has a heavy focus on Puerto Rican food, but also serves food from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Peru and Santo Domingo.
The theme behind the restaurant was to model it after Ventura's childhood home in Ponce, a town in the south side of Puerto Rico. And he did a good job, the walls and ceilings made out of dark, raw reclaimed wood and Mexican tile on the floor give the space a down-home feel.
And who better to have as a chef when you are using your mother’s recipes than your brother? Jose’s brother, Giovanni, moved from Puerto Rica to Brooklyn to become the executive chef.
“I am excited, yesterday [during the soft opening] was a but nerve-racking,” Ventura said while standing in his restaurant on Wednesday, which opened a couple minutes prior. “Once people told me our food was great, I got past the thought that everything was going to go badly.”
For opening night, they had live music, played by a salsa band named the Irek Group.
The menu is in Spanish, speckled with main courses like Asopao de Langosta, Puerto Rican-style gumbo with Caribbean lobster and tostones and Carne Frita a mi Estilo, crispy marinated chunks with mampostea rice and pickled avocado.
For appetizer they offer dishes like Ceviche de Mero, curry-coconut milk marinated grouper with aji caballero infused oil and Calamares a la Romana, fresh crispy calamari topped with limon criollo alliolo sauce.
But Jose’s favorite is the Chicharron de Pollo, adobo rub marinated chicken chunks with pique de la casa (house pink sauce).
The dish is delicious—the chunks of fried chicken thighs are marinated for 24 hours and then fried. They are crispy on the outside and juicy and hot on the inside. It is smothered with ketchup and mayo and then has a dipping sauce on the side, their homemade hot sauce.
The hot sauce is just spicy enough and is packed with flavor. After eating the entire plate, you can expect for the top of your head to be sweating.
Jose explained why it is his favorite:
“After the first bite, I told my brother, ‘Man, this has the exact taste of when Mama used to make it,’” Jose said. “It’s straight up Mama’s recipe.”
When asked what separates Casa Ventura from all the other restaurants in Park Slope, Jose said that he has a secret weapon.
“My brother is what separates us from them all. He is so deep into Latin seasoning that there is no other cook who can make Latin cuisine like him,” he said.
He also said that there is only one other Puerto Rican restaurant in the neighborhood, but Casa Ventura also specializes in food from all over Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We are giving our patrons signature dishes from all kinds of Latin countries, Jose said. “I think we are going to do excellent.”