MOFONGO RESTAURANT: “CRAVE WORTHY EMPANADAS” (closed)
UPDATE: Mofongo has closed
Mofongo Restaurant serves all the home style classics and favorites your mother would make, if your mom knew how to make complicated Latin dishes and still liked to cook!
Mofongo is a family business, incorporating the firecracker energy and talents of three generations of extended family. Originally from Brooklyn, Rose Cabrero, Marta Delgado, Carmen Pagan, Vivienne Velasquez and Mary Gonzalez spent decades perfecting family recipes to create a menu that mixes tastes of traditions with modern crave-worthy treats.
I spoke with Cabrero and Pagan about the restaurant that is adding to the list of reasons to revisit the Springwood Avenue area.
TBP: I brought your empanadas to a party and every guest raved about the flaky crust and perfectly seasoned ground beef.
Pagan: I make the Empanadas, by hand, to order. They don’t sit around all day or start out frozen.
Customers joke that they cannot eat just one – it’s at least four or five or nothing. And for $1 each, why not?
We make everything from scratch here. We make our own tortillas, grind our own main spices. Our sofrito is made with fresh crushed garlic, cilantro, three different kinds of peppers, onions and more. We go the extra mile with everything and we do it with love. There are no Sason flavor enhancers or Goya bottles here.
The fried chicken is fresh chicken, not frozen. If you are craving chicken tenders we will take the breast meat and season it with our special seasonings. It is not like I bought a big box at the store and I am just frying it for you.
The plantains are peeled and fried for you right at that moment. The roast pork is made that morning and the stews are made every other day.
This is not fast food – it is all real food here. And most of the recipes can be made vegetarian if you ask.
Vivienne makes all the desserts – flan, upside down cake, cheesecake. All the good ones.
TBP: Her flan was crazy good. Many of the recipes came from your family from Puerto Rico.
Cabrero: These are the favorite meals our family would eat every day at home growing up. We use the recipes the way our mom and grandmother taught us. We boil our plantains in milk; we fry in olive oil. It costs a little more but in the end we want to make it so good you have to come and see us.
And when you come, you will see this is a family-run business. Even our young grandchildren, nieces and nephews come on the weekends to help with the customers. Mofongo is keeping our family together.
TBP: And your family shares that good energy with the customers.
Cabrero: I am fighting cancer for the second time right now. There are so many people and businesses that do not want to be part of the community or share their success with their neighbors. Too many people are hurting or angry and we are doing our part to help.
We would love to see more people from the area drive to see us. They have my word I will do everything to make them happy and leave stuffed. A lot of customers come for take out or catering and we are happy that they are sharing our food with their friends.
We want you to feel like you are coming home to your mom or aunt when you come here. We put love in our food and write “with love” on all the food packages here – customers know we are passing along our thanks and good wishes.
Mofongo “Spanish Food with a Touch of Sol,” 1208 Adams Street, Asbury Park. 732.455.5907. Call ahead for take out and summer hours. MofongoRestaurant.com.
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