If you've never before tasted the lively cuisine of the Dominican Republic, consider Sabroso for those crucial first bites. Know, though, that the little eatery -- a winner in so many ways -- is low on certain amenities. Yes, there's table service, but, no, there's no public restroom -- although customers in need will be directed to the crew's facilities off the kitchen. A liquor license is pending. Compensating for such deficits is the friendliness of co-owners Santiago Nunez and Omar Polanco, both eager to introduce unfamiliar dishes to newcomers. Prices are low, portions more than ample.
The savory plantain dish known as mofongo is made with skill and care. In one of several variations, the garlicky fried plantains are mashed and mixed with boneless pieces of stewed chicken and molded into a cylinder before being plated. The moist, loose-textured mixture is served with stew gravy on the side. It will take effort to stop eating.
The same holds true for Sabroso's crisp, flaky, greaseless empanadas. One is filled with a ground-beef mixture, another with ground chicken, a third with melted cheese. In contrast, a pulled pork empanada comes off as somewhat dry. True to Latin-Caribbean tradition, the chicken soup is rich and comforting.
Hard to beat Sabroso's meltingly fine Cuban sandwich, a classic amalgam of roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles on grill-pressed bread. A must is the pernil asado. Every fiber of roasted pork is succulent, dripping with flavorsome juices. On the side are addictive sweet plantains and yellow rice with pigeon peas. Chicken breast with garlic sauce, although good, is drowning in way too much sauce.
Another night, chicken breast with grilled onions is imbued with a lovely smokiness, but the meat has been cooked to dryness. A whole red snapper comes out nicely grilled. A showstopper is baked pork ribs -- tender and with homestyle goodness.
Conclude with tres leches cake, soaked with a combination of condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. Or Sabroso's creamy opulent-tasting flan, a finale befitting a restaurant whose Spanish name translates as "delicious."