Last week I was invited to Gracie Mansion by Executive Chef Filiberto Estevez, and while I attended the pre-Puerto Rican Day parade festivities (which were awesome!), I had the pleasure to meet Roberto Ayala , co owner of La Fonda Boricua, the legendary bastion of Puerto Rican cooking in Spanish Harlem. Mami and Papi were in town, so I decided to take them on a trip uptown (back to Papi’s roots)and get some some home cooking. There are no menus at La Fonda Boricua, but that does not mean there are a plethora of platters to choose from.We started out with an Ensalada de Pulpo (octopus salad), Chicarrones de Pollo (they serve them boneless and with the bone in), Ensalalda de Bacalao,Seviche de Camarones and Pescado en Escabeche.
Everything was seasoned well and cooked to the point. The seafood was fresh and fragrant, and the escabeche was deliciously vinegary.
We were definately off to a good start! I decided to opt for the Chuletas de Cerdo (pork chops) and share them with Miggy, Papi shared a Bistec Encebollado with Mami. Jerry ordered the Pernil, Angela apparently had not gotten her fill of the Chicharrones de Pollo, and ordered them with the bone, this time. We ordered Maduros, Arroz con Gandules, and White Rice with Red Beans, and an Avocado Salad for the table, and a side order of Camarofongo (mofongo stuffed with shrimp). Pete looked up and waxed nostalgic that the red beans tasted just like our Tia Maria’s beans.
The portions were gi-normous, and the food well seasoned, exactly like Tia’s house! It’s not diificult to see why we were looking so very happy in La Fonda’s dining room.
Owners Jorge and Roberto Ayala were very attentive and hospitable, and even brought out Roberto’s wife, whose in the kitchen making sure that everything runs smoothly. They sent out a very homey Budin de Flan which was deliciously caramely, and had a dense texture that was a marvel on the tongue.
Will I be back? You can count on it! Especially, since it’s easier than visiting my Tia Maria, who lives in Puerto Rico. La Fonda Boricua is a stop you definately have to make when you are jonesing for the authentic flavors of Puerto Rican home cooking!
La Fonda Boricua
169 East 106th Street
Between Lexington and 3rd Ave
New York, NY
212 410 7292