D’Antigua Restaurant, Café & Bar Links Food, Culture
This funky restaurant, café and bar is revitalizing its Jackson Heights neighborhood with a mix of Latin food, drinks, music and cultural events. Diana Narvaiz, along with her extended family, opened D’Antigua just over a year ago, in hopes of introducing a multicultural venue where people could enjoy good food, drinks, music and art, all in one well-run establishment, and the effort seems to have succeeded. D’Antigua means antique, but the cozy interior features an eclectic mix of antique crystal chandeliers, velvet sofas and retro vinyl banquettes that create a lounge-like atmosphere and appeal to the establishment’s generally younger clientele. New artwork and sculpture adorn the walls and a central stage and high tech audio-visual system allow for live performances such as Latin rock on Friday nights, Salsa and merengue on Sundays and poetry readings every other Wednesday. The music begins at 10 p.m., allowing plenty of time for diners to relax and unwind after enjoying a quiet meal. Thursday nights are devoted to classic movies from all over the world, projected on a large screen while patrons dine or enjoy a cocktail. Bar and table service is friendly and there’s always something going on.
We unwound quite easily with some cocktails from the bar. D’Antigua’s signature martini is shaken with light rum, banana liqueur and lime juice for a refreshing cocktail. Another libation, called “vida,” which means life, derives its pleasant flavor from peach liqueur. Beer imported from South America is served icy cold and goes well with many of their appetizers. D’Antigua even makes two kinds of beer cocktails, colored red or blue.
Start with crunchy and delicious coconut shrimp served on a bed of tender salad greens ($7.95). We shared a platter of ceviche, marinated shrimp, scallops and calamari finished with a touch of tomato. Picada mixta, a generous platter of grilled steak, tiny ribs, chicken and sausage is served with dipping sauce that makes this a perfect dish to share as a first course ($12.95).
The menu, though small, offers a surprisingly wide range of choices including meat, fish, chicken and pasta. New York Strip steak is cooked to the diner’s liking, then finished with a creamy brandy sauce with green peppercorns. Thin cut steak, a Latin favorite, is topped with sweet onions ($9.95). I loved the smoked pork chops sautéed with a rum-based sauce that includes chunks of fresh pineapple ($11.95). Chicken is herb-roasted with a brandy and garlic demi glaze, making it succulent and very flavorful ($8.95).
Fish and seafood dishes include one of their most popular entrees, filet of fresh salmon sautéed in white wine, butter and parsley. Fried filet of fish, flaky on the inside and crunchy on the outside, is served with homemade tartar sauce. Shrimp in garlic sauce is another traditional dish. D’Antigua is a very good value as well, since all the entrees mentioned come with two side dishes. Choose among Spanish style rice, baked potato, French fries, fresh vegetable medley or a crunchy green salad.
A few classic pasta dishes, such as fettuccine carbonara, Alfredo or il pesto with a fragrant basil sauce help to complete the menu. Children love D’Antigua, where they can order quesadillas and homemade chicken nuggets.
On Saturday nights, the kitchen stays open to midnight to accommodate music fans. Grilled steak or chicken sandwiches, grilled vegetable wraps and salads are available till late at night. All make for a light dinner or late night snack to savor while watching one of the various performances.D’Antigua serves rich and hearty coffee, with goes very well with their homemade cheesecake topped with chocolate sauce. For a real indulgence, share the fried ice cream, dipped in a cornmeal batter then deep-fried till crunchy on the outside and the ice cream just starts to melt in the middle. As we finished our dinner, a film had begun, and so we lingered to watch it. Soon, there were many patrons who come for the weekly film and to enjoy a meal or drinks with friends.
D’Antigua is open for dinner seven nights a week. The adjoining quick food take out shop is open from noon to serve great lunches and snacks all day and night. There you’ll find a nice variety of sandwiches, grilled burgers, hot dogs and corn cakes to eat in or to go. D’Antigua will deliver to your home or office.
For a great Latin style meal in a hip, eclectic setting, visit D’Antigua Restaurant, Café and Bar. Whether you come for a quiet, relaxing dinner or to hear local Latin rock, salsa and techno, the mood is always fun and friendly. Every other Wednesday, an open mike night allows for poetry readings and more. A disc jockey spins music from the ’70s and ’80s on Thursday nights after the movie ends. With so many events going on, it’s worth your while to check out their Web site for the most updated information.