Restaurant Of The Week
By Teresa Barile
Chibcha Restaurant Puts Accent On Flavor
One of the best things about Queens is its ethnic and cultural diversity.We live in a borough whose residents represent more than 150 countries around the world. Fortunately for us, they brought their cuisine along with them.
This week’s journey takes us to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights where Chibcha Restaurant is celebrating its 25th year in business. Chibcha was named for an ancient civilization that lived in the mountains near Bogota, Colombia.At Chibcha, the flavors of traditional Colombian and South American dishes are served in a tropical atmosphere by well-dressed waiters. Owner Jorge Alarcon and manager DonFelipe will make you feel very welcome as you sip on a refreshing cocktail or share a bottle of wine from their well-stocked, temperature-controlled wine cellar.
The bilingual menu offers an extensive variety of seafood, meat, poultry and pasta dishes.Don Felipe will cheerfully describe the day’s specials that might include a tender, grilled veal chop topped with onions and peppers in a shallot wine sauce, or oven-roasted Cornish game hens with orange sauce.
I suggest you start with a typical Colombian appetizer of shrimp ceviche. This salad of marinated shrimp was fresh, tasty and enough to share, served in a lettuce leaf ($8.95). Empanadas Chibcha are delectable little meat pies, seasoned with herbs and spices and tucked inside a crisp pastry shell. Another fine choice is the eggplant vinaigrette, in tangy sauce.
Typical Colombian plates focus on meat and chicken, and are offered with a hearty serving of rice, beans, plantains and salad.Carne Chibcha is one such specialty, with the tender meat grilled to your liking. Loin of pork is slow roasted with a sweet and sour sauce and will satisfy a big appetite for only $11.95. For a new twist on steak, try the Argentinean steak topped with fresh avocado, tomato and scallions.You’ll also enjoy the marinated skirt steak with all the side dishes mentioned. A peasant dish of chicken legs sauteed in heaps of garlic is uniquely satisfying and something even the kids will enjoy.
Lots of families were dining together when we visited, many of them watching the live broadcast of Colombia’s soccer team playing Argentina. While the dining room is cozy and quiet, a separate bar area is lively with sports enthusiasts who come for regular sporting event broadcasts. In addition, each night, starting at 11 p.m., entertainment by well-known South American stars takes the stage for several hours of Latin singing, dancing and merriment.Seven nights a week, there’s always something buzzing at Chibcha Restaurant.
Seafood dishes are very fresh and plentiful at Chibcha Restaurant. We shared a huge skillet of paella marinara, traditionally a Spanish dish, Chibcha makes a terrific version brimming with fresh lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari with saffron rice.Paella valenciana is made with chorizo sausage, chicken and shellfish.Either way, you’ll enjoy this beautifully presented dish, served tableside byFelipe.
Shrimp in an aromatic garlic sauce or shrimp stuffed with crabmeat are also good choices, as is the filet of red snapper, finished with a vodka sauce and shrimp ($17.95). A typical Colombian dish, "cazuela de mariscos," is a type of seafood stew replete with scallops, clams, shrimp and lobster in a creamy white sauce. Try it.
Save room for dessert. Chibcha’s version of tiramisu is made with Tia Maria liqueur. There are also wonderful cakes, puddings and flambe to delight you.
Chibcha Restaurant is open seven days a week, from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. Enjoy dinner all evening, then dancing and entertainment from 11 p.m. Don’t forget to stop in for all your favorite soccer matches broadcast on big screen televisions. Chibcha Restaurant is another great thing about Queens.
79-05 Roosevelt Ave.