|"'How am I doing, Mom?' I asked my mother
when she stopped by the other night.
you're improving,' she said.
"That was good enough for me."
Credit Alan Batts
|Makes sense if you're Aarón Sànchez and mom
is Zarella Martinez, one of New York's great Mexican chefs and
the woman often credited with bringing authentic Mexican cuisine
to New York.
It’s been two years since Centrico opened with
Aarón at its helm, and judging from the popularity of this
restaurant in the heart of Tribeca, there's no question that the
handsome young chef has come into his own and is himself
delivering authentic Mexican cuisine to New York. On our most
recent visit, a hot and humid Thursday night, not only was every
table inside taken, there was scarcely an empty place on the
dining terrace that wraps around Franklin Street and West
Broadway (where Edie Falco was spotted by one in our group).
were indoors, inhaling the air-conditioning and seated on a comfortable
banquette along the wall of windows looking out onto West Broadway.
Before us was the entire high-ceilinged dining room, the long bar of
hammered zinc on the far end, and the open kitchen where Aarón could be
seen performing his culinary arts. The mood was festive. At a
banquet-sized table, repeated toasts were being made. Nearby, a young
couple, heads bent towards each other, were sipping margaritas and
|This was the kind of night where, whether
inside or out, you needed a drink. We briefly scanned Centrico's
wine list, noting how many selections were from Spain including
that country's well-loved "champagne" Cava Brut. But given the
mood and the focus of Centrico, we felt a Mexican spirit,
something made from the agave plant, was more apropos. There are
many Tequilas and Mezcals available: the recently bottled
Blancos, the slightly aged Reposados, the longer aged Anejos --
which one of our party selected and downed straight!
Cr. Julie Stapen
Supplied with drinks, we surveyed our copper-covered
table laden with eye-opening guacamole and salsa, crispy chips, and
copies of Centrico's menu, an intriguing document in and of itself
representing the colorful and diverse gastronomies of Mexico's varied
regions. An upbeat and informed server helped us through the many
choices. For starters, our group of four ended up with scallops and
Serrano ceviches, skewered octopus with a cherry tomato salad, lump
crabmeat with avaocado and chipotle aioli, and a quesadilla with
vegetables, oaxaca cheese and roasted tomato salad. For main courses, we
had the pan roasted chicken with mole; fried sweetbreads with bacon,
jalapeno and lemon butter; frog legs with cilantro oil and calabacitas
(the Mexican squash) with cheese; and the braised short ribs in ancho
chili broth from Jalisco. Vibrant, spicy, unique, they were emblematic
of a cuisine we all love, one light years away from the rice and beans
we once thought defined Mexican food.
Cr. Julie Stapen
Cr. Julie Stapen
The preparations, the combinations, the exotic spices
and ingredients -- it all seemed so complicated to us. But Aarón
demurred. He relies on quality products, on seasonal produce. "You can
create big flavors in Mexican cuisine without doing too much to it," he
Whatever the young chef is doing, Mom approves.
So do we.
211 West Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10013
Phone: 212 431-0700
# # #
About the Authors: Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband
team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional
scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories
It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in
America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in
Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.
They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining
as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United
States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
about these authors.
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