I was at a meeting at the federal court buildings in Central Islip, after which I needed to head to Mineola. I drove down the road past the LI Ducks stadium, bought some gas and looked for a spot for a fast lunch.
I walked into Sabor Latino (Casa del Chimichurri) and asked for something quick. The smiling man behind the bar paused for a second and said, Well, you can have some meat, with some beans and some rice, thats quick its already made.
Just as I agreed to this, a thin man drinking a Hienekin at the end of the bar piped up, What about Chimichurri? Thats quick. Do you like Chimichurri? Since the place proudly displayed flags from the Domenican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the United States, I assumed it was some sort of hot sauce. I eagerly nodded, and said that I liked Chimichurri.
So, the thin man said, you have to decide which you want chimichurri or meat. Confused and trying to pick up on the thin mans cues, I changed my order to chimichurri.
The thin man smiled and said, I like Chimichurri, too. You can go have a burger down the street, but to me this is better. As the smiling man went into the back to make my chimichurri, the thin man asked me if I liked my chimichurri whith everything on it. Unwilling to confess my ignorance I said, Yes, with everything Good, he answered, me too. He shouted a few words to the man in back in Spanish ensuring I would get a proper chimichurri.
What arrived from the back was a grilled sandwich with a thin, flat rectangle of ground beef, topped with lots of fresh shredded cabbage, red onions, tomato, hot sauce and mayonnaise. It was delicious and definitely the kind of thing that would inspire future cravings. I imagine it would taste even better after a few beers.
The smiling barkeep/cook took pride in telling me that he buys top round (he emphasized top round several times) and grinds it himself, because the ground meat they sell in the market is no good for making chimichurris. You cant make it flat like a chimichurri.
He asked me if I wanted beer or soda. I opted for soda and he laid out a colorful array of Dominican sodas. Both men seemed to push me to try the Merengue flavor, which (this time I asked) they told me was like cream soda. I tried it, even though Im not a fan of cream soda. It was much better than any cream soda Ive ever had. It had a hint of tartness and none of the fake vanilla taste of most cream sodas.
The barkeep/cook/owner confided in me that his dream was to put ovens in the place so that he could make pizza and Italian food. I worked as a cook in Italian restaurants. I know how to make a lot of Italian dishes. I wished him good luck, but silently prayed that this would never happen.
"Casa del Chimichurri"
38 Carleton Ave, Central Islip, NY 11722
Phone: (631) 348-1492
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