Eat this! Tallarines verdes con bistec apanado.
Whenever people ask me about my favorite places to chow down in Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island Taste always lands on the shortlist.
Tucked away in a little storefront opposite the 61st Precinct, it’s the only place in the neighborhood for authentic South American cuisine. And, call me biased, but if you’re going to only have one South American place, it better be Peruvian. Heck, that’s why Coney Island Taste was one of the first restaurants Sheepshead Bites ever reviewed.
It’s so good it even gave those hoity toity culinary scribes over at the New York Times reason to slog down the Brighton Line for a bite. With Peruvian being the new Thai, the Times finally got on the bandwagon and did a write-up of several small places to get your ceviche on.
At Coney Island Taste in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, the menu depicts the Wonder Wheel, while the window faces Coney Island Avenue and the local precinct house, 2580 Coney Island Avenue (Gravesend Neck Road-Avenue W); (718) 339-8371. At first glance, the décor suggests a luncheonette, with well-padded chairs and booths, and signs near the register promoting American lunch specials with soda. Peruvian cooking, however, dominates the bill of fare. Rocoto pepper sauce and an amuse-bouche of cancha, salty roasted corn, are delivered by your server, just as cream and sugar would be.
Belly-filling dishes are the order of the day. You might begin with papa a la huancaina ($6), slabs of boiled potato swamped by spicy, creamy cheese sauce. A lighter but equally peppery sauce dresses aji de gallina ($12), shredded chicken. Seco combinado ($11), beef stew buttressed by rice and beans, is milder if chewier.
The fry cook shows a deft touch with jalea ($15), heaped with squid, shrimp and corvina. Chaufa de mariscos ($14), seafood fried rice tinted with soy sauce, is even more expansive, but can be overcooked. To accompany it, there’s chicha morada ($8 a pitcher), a soft drink made from purple corn.
And don’t forget, Coney Island Taste was one of the participants of A Taste of Sheepshead Bay. So you can find their menu in the restaurant guide we made for the event.
We got down with Coney Island Taste back in November, munching on the restaurant’s Peruvian goodies and dishing it out to all of you. To this day, we continue to get messages from readers thanking us for bringing it to their attention, and at least one reader told me her office now orders from them several times a week.
Well, now Mr. Fancy Pants, Robert Sietsema (also one of my favorite food critics in the city), has made his way down here and checked it out in our wake. His verdict? Que rico!
As the patient proprietor took our complicated order, we realized that—despite its dodgy disguise as a forgettable deli—the place was a very serious Peruvian restaurant. The menu was extensive, and as we ticked off dishes, the guy never once said, “We’re out of that,” which is the trademark of overextended cafés.
We’re glad you agree, Sietsema. Next time, give me a call when you’re down here; I’d love to show off a few other hidden gems.
Tallarines verdes con bistec apanado - Just one of the traditional Peruvian dishes at C.I. Taste
For those who don’t know me, I spent the better part of the past year living in Peru. For those who have never seen me, I gained a lot of weight living in Peru. There’s a simple reason for that: Peruvian food is among the best in the world. And my increasingly chunky behind became very discerning about what qualifies as good Peruvian food. Coney Island Taste (2580 Coney Island Avenue) is good Peruvian food.
Don’t let the name fool you. Or the appearance. Coney Island Taste’s humble establishment plasters its windows with photos of greasy sandwiches, burgers, and breakfasts, harking back to its beginnings two years ago when it started slinging such simple fare. And when they began selling true Peruvian cuisine a year ago, the small line on the awning advertising Peruvian-American dishes got lost in the mix.
That’s a shame, because owners Fabiola and Jesus Roa are serving up the best Latin food this side of South Slope. Originally from Piura, a Peruvian city along the northern coast known for its seafood dishes, the Roas have been living in the Sheepshead Bay/Brighton Beach area for more than 12 years and saw a niche that needed to be filled.
“I saw this was an area that doesn’t have many Spanish restaurants, but this is a mixed area,” said Fabiola Roa. And so far the Peruvian dishes have been a hit with clients from all walks. “I have Russian customers, Indian, American, Latino.”
“Russians love the seafood dishes” like arroz con mariscos (a Peruvian seafood paella) and parihuela (seafood soup), she added. Continue Reading »