For taco buffs, fresh handmade tortillas are the Holy Grail. Hicksville now has a worthy pilgrimage site.
When Will Colon took over Villaggio di Napoli pizzeria in February, he added a few Mexican dishes to the menu. The Houston native comes from a Mexican-American family and he couldn’t find any Mexican food in the area to satisfy his yen for the cooking of his hometown. It didn’t take long for customers to abandon the pizza in favor of tacos and burritos. “They’d come in, look at the Mexican stuff and say, ‘I came in for a slice — but I want this instead.’ ”
And so, bowing to popular demand, he got rid of the pizza oven and remodeled the kitchen to handle a Mexican menu. On April 6 he reopened the restaurant as Nelly’s Taqueria.
Nelly Palacios, the chef, is Colon’s wife. An accomplished Salvadorean cook (and owner of Nelly’s Corner, a Latin Deli on Broadway in Hicksville), she has taken on Mexican cuisine with a vengeance.
Every taco at Nelly’s is made with corn tortillas that Palacios makes by hand with fresh masa (cornmeal dough). Their flavor is earthier, their texture more delicate than store-bought. Palacios even makes her own flour tortillas for the burritos; they resemble nothing so much as a thinner Indian naan and are good enough to be enjoyed on their own.
Nelly’s is the rare Long Island taqueria that makes tacos al pastor the traditional way: with pork that has been roasted on a vertical spit (like those used to make gyros). For now, the spit only rotates on weekends; weekdays the pork is cooked on the griddle. There are also tacos filled with chicken, steak and fish (grilled, not fried), all manner of enchiladas and flautas and fat gorditas and more. You’ll have a hard time spending more than $10.
Nelly’s Taqueria is at 356 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville, 516-261-9177