Co-Owners Manual Veovides and Josh Miller
Price Range: $8-20
Phone #: (973) 856-6777
Location: 61 New St, Newark, NJ 07102 ( 6 min. walk from CC )
My favorite quality of Newark is the diversity among the community. Walk 5 minutes in any direction from NJIT’s Campus Center and you are guaranteed to find multitudes of ethnic cuisine. Japanese, Italian, Spanish – find your craving at any nearby locally owned restaurant. To experience one of Newark’s most authentic and comforting Latin inspired eateries, head down to La Cocina, which can be located on the outskirts of the Rutgers Newark campus.
Surrounded by festive music and the sweet aroma of spices, La Cocina is sure to satisfy any appetite that steps through their door. Off the bat, their customer service is fluid and impeccable. The employee’s guidance throughout ordering meals, which are displayed right before your eyes, allow customers to actively engage in creating their own plate. Any questions are easily answered and the employees are willing to accommodate any requests.
Standing before the presented food can leave an individual dumbfounded with the amount of choices. Your options begin with 3 types of rice to start as a base, paired with 1 choice of a side, and a main meal such as pollo al horno (baked chicken). This plate will run your wallet approximately $9. However, said example does not include other options such as their juicy empanadas, cuban sandwiches, or savory desserts.
I can heartily recommend the pernil (oven roasted pork shoulder) for anyone who may be timid to venture outside of their usual food palate. Warning to the wise, La Cocina cooks their pernil fresh every day. They commonly run out of pernil before 2 o’clock so I highly suggest going before if you’re craving a heavenly experience. The pork is succulent, delicious, rich in flavor, and the crisp burnt ends of rendered fat melt in your mouth. The only reason I have ever been disappointed in La Cocina is when I arrive too late and come to the awful realization that they have ran out of pernil for the day.
In turn, all strategies need a back-up so my eyes commonly zoom in on the delicate pastelon (Cuban lasagna). However, I could never discredit how tender the Wednesday special of ropa vieja (Cuban shredded beef) is. In addition, the desserts are the low-key victor at La Cocina. As you progress down the assembly line, your eyes may glance over these compact containers. Make no mistake as to not consider ordering the guava cheesecake or tres leches cake. Both of these choices are stellar in their own way. As a secret tip, consider adding in a cup of cortadito (cuban espresso) and pouring periodic humble amounts over a slice of tres leches cake. You are welcome in advance. The mouth-watering lineup of options that La Cocina has to offer, I guarantee, will fulfill all hungry stomachs.
As we slowly approach some warmer days, be sure to schedule a lunch trip to La Cocina. Outside the rear exit of the store also includes a patio area secluded in a tranquil and serene atmosphere to enjoy your meal outside. Unfortunately, no live music to complete the full experience but you are guaranteed to leave with a smile from ear to ear. If you can handle amazing flavor, then I will see you in La Cocina.
Dude I interviewed: Manuel Veovides (Co-Owner of La Cocina)
What culture of food would you consider La Cocina?
A: Well it’s Latin cuisine but it’s got more of a Cuban flavor to it. Even though we have gandules rice which is Puerto Rican, we have pastelon which is also Puerto Rican, but overall it’s generally Latin cuisine.
What made you want to bring these cultures like Cuban and Puerto Rican together?
A: Well you know what it is, the area is mixed. And if we’re gonna do moro rice which is a Cuban rice, and a standard white rice as well, then why not also include gandules rice?
Do you see a wide diversity of people enjoying and recognizing your food?
A: Oh yeah, our food is easy to understand. It’s simple. Beef stew, pepper steak. These are dishes that people can see in front of them. Our craziest question we get is, “Is it spicy?” and to solve that we have separate meals like spicy beef stew and normal beef stew.
You’re on death row, final meal, what are you eating?
A: I’ve gotta say the pernil. When it comes out fresh in the morning, it opens up my appetite and my eyes glow.