It was a long wait, but finally .
Casa Ventura, owned by Jose Ventura, his wife Devonna Middeleer and local proprietor Avi Kravitz, opened on April 24 and has a heavy focus on Puerto Rican food, but also serves food from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Peru and Santo Domingo.
The restaurant is built completely from reclaimed wood—the effect is a dark, down-home feeling. And that was planned: Ventura wanted to model it after his childhood home in Ponce, a town in the south side of Puerto Rico.
And to fit with the down-home feeling, Ventura got his brother, Giovanni, to move up here from Puerto Rico and become the executive chef. Giovanni uses his mother’s recipes but adds his own flavor and excellence.
Let’s forget about the décor and focus on the food:
The Chicharron de Pollo ($7.75) is by far one of the best dishes. Although it is an appetizer, I could eat this for any meal. It’s fried chunks of chicken, which were rubbed with adobo. This is a must have—salty and delicious.
The Ensalada de Repollo ($7.75) is a shredded cabbage salad with shallots and Spanish sherry vinaigrette. It is cool, easy and simple. But has a taste clears your palate and is great between a savory dish like the Chicharrones and a main course.
The Arepa Rellena ($8.95) is also something that you need to save room for. It is sweet cornmeal disc with pan roasted mushrooms and queso fundido. It is sweet and cheesy and preps you taste buds for anything.
For dinner I had the Carne Frita a mi Estilo ($14), which was a lot like the appetizer, but this dish is crispy marinated pork chunks with mamposteao rice and pickled avocado (which is really just guacamole). This dish is fantastically savory, juicy and the avocado and rice are both perfect companions.
Another main course that needs to be tasted is the El Salmon y la Papa ($13.95). This is a pan-roasted salmon with ensalada de papa casera, which is potato salad, and is topped with a valencia orange beet reduction. The salmon is cooked very rare, still pink inside, and has a tender bite and explodes with flavor.
And of course, you cannot forget the crispy plantains, or tostones, for the side.
There really was no room left for desert, but I had to force it, you know, to get the entire picture. So, the flan ($5.95) and the passion fruit bar ($5.95) are both excellent and worth expanding your belt a couple notches.
Overall, the service is excellent: the waiters know the dishes, can explain their diverse flavors and which ones to pair or not to pair with each other.
And to top is all off, the atmosphere is perfect for a date, they have a great corner table, or a party on the covered patio.