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Minis Latin Fusion for the Colorful Vibrant Tastes of Latin America

clamsandchorizoSteamed clams and chorizo.The flavors of Latin American cuisine are adding a vibrant taste to the New Rochelle culinary scene with the recent opening of Minis Latin Fusion Restaurant. It is owned by Nicole Pirraglia Piparo and Michael Piparo. Upon chatting with Nicole, she indicated that she worked in several restaurants on City Island as manager and in the front of the house. Driving to New Rochelle to pick up her children from school, she noticed the empty storefront that previously housed Fratelli for many years. The rest is history. She decided the area needed a change of pace from the many Italian eateries in the area. Thus, Minis Latin Fusion was born. “Our food is Spanish with influences from many Latin cultures. We offer something for everyone. The person who I would have loved to experience Minis, is my grandmother, a great cook. My goal for the future is to expand to many locations. For me, the best part of the business is the social interaction. The hardest part, is being away from my young family.”

The space has been redesigned. Seating about 50 guests, the bar is to the right and the dining room to the left. To give the space a south of the border ambiance, the many works of Mexican artist Leonid Afremov adorn the white stucco walls. They depict many areas of the arts. The dance and music themes compliment the Latin food.

We enjoyed several appetizers. One of my favorites was a bowl of steamed clams paired with chorizo. The fragrant cilantro flavored sauce was perfect with the delicate clams and nicely spiced chorizo. Toasted slices of bread were just right for dipping. I requested a spoon to lap up every bit of the sauce, and I was told that another guest indicated that if he had a glass, he would just drink the beautifully flavored sauce. Empanadas con Picadillo with creole sauce were quite good, as well. These “meat pastries”, were filled to the brim with a well seasoned meat mixture and were fried to a golden brown. I had been instructed on how to navigate the empanada and followed the rule…. I bit off the corner of the pastry and the tantalizing aroma of the beef mixture with its combination of herbs and spices filled the air. Quesadillas are popular in many restaurants. At Minis, the filling is chicken that is roasted and tossed in a mole sauce. It was a very pleasant variation with that great chocolate enhanced sauce of Mexican origin. Chicharron de pollo arrived as fried to a crisp nuggets of chicken. They were as crunchy as could be and pleasant when dipped in some creole sauce. --- One caveat----- They are not boneless, so be careful when biting into these delicious morsels. Creamy garlic shrimp were another tasty appetizer. The diced shrimp tossed with a creamy white garlic sauce were serve atop freshly fried tostones. Yet to be tried among the appetizers are shrimp soup with Juarez Sherry, black bean soup and sancocho, a soupy dish with chicken or fish, popular in the Caribbean. For a lighter beginning try the Arcadian green salad with sherry guava vinaigrette or tomato avocado salad with chipotle orange vinaigrette and tostones. carneasadaSteak with Argentinean Chimichurri Sauce

Many dishes are creatively presented at Minis. Ropa Vieja is a dish I have enjoyed through the years. Translated as “old clothes”, this dish of shredded beef is a Cuban specialty. Here the shredded beef is served in a Peruvian presentation. The meat mixture is layered with rice and white beans. This mountain of flavors was enhanced with aji Amarillo, a Peruvian yellow chili, avocado and a few slices of tostones, those fresh , fried green plantains, on a plantain leaf. The origin of the dish is Cuban and the “ tacu tacu” presentation is Peruvian.

Other entrees are varied with dishes popular in Puerto Rico, Peru, Cuba and the Caribbean, to name but a few. There is the popular arroz con pollo and seafood paella. Grilled NY Steak has a Latin touch when served with Argentinean chimichurri sauce. Pernil, pork shoulder , from Puerto Rico, plantain crumb crusted chicken breast, pork chops with moduros, sweet plantains and mofongo , a popular mashed plantain dish , with meat, vegetables or seafood. There is even mac and cheese with chorizo and chicharon crumbs.

Desserts include carrot cake bread pudding, cheesecake brulee as well as a Latin inspired tres leche Maduro sundae with those terrific sweet plantains, nuts and syrup.

Minis serve lunch Tuesday through Friday with Latin touches joining popular favorites such as fish and chip sandwiches with spicy Caribbean tartar sauce, carne hero with chimichurri sauce, and tamarind bbq pernil. Enjoy happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4-7 pm. Sunday brunch is offered from 11.30-4 with selections including Venezuelan frittata, chorizo mac and cheese, and chimichurri steak and eggs.

Park your car in the parking area of the strip mall or on the street and enjoy the ray of Latin sunshine at the new Minis Latin Fusion Restaurant soon.RopaViegaRopa Viega

Minis Latin Fusion
237 East Main Street
New Rochelle
(914) 355- 5609

Recipe: Beef Empanadas (10 empanadas)

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, finely diced
3 Tbsps chopped garlic
½ red bell pepper finely diced
½ green bell pepper, finely diced
4 Tbsps. tomato paste
2 Tbsps. capers
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
½ bunch chopped cilantro
½ tsp. adobo
½ tsp. salt
10 Goya empanada shells, 5 inch rounds
2 Tbsps. olive oil

Olive oil for frying empanadas

In a large pot mix together all filling ingredients. Saute stirring, in 2 Tbsps. oil until meat is browned and cooked through. Chill the mixture. Divide it among the 10 shells. Fold each in half and crimp the edges tightly. Fry in olive oil on both sides until golden. Drain and serve.

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