The fruity red sangria at the new Casa del Campo Dominican Restaurant has the power to jump-start an evening. What can also get you going is the live Latin music that fills the place most weekends. You may even be inspired to show off your salsa and merengue skills.
But whether you come on a weekend or a quieter weeknight, the real entertainment is chef Andres Garcia's Dominican repertoire, which is as satisfying as it is well-priced.
Along with that killer sangria, consider sharing a platter of flaky empanadas, which ooze a savory chicken-cheese filling. And, also, tostones rellenos, little stuffed plantain cups. The skirt steak filling is a juicy, smoky and garlicky choice. Gratis with most entrees is an option of soup or salad. Bypass the dull tossed greens and go, instead, for fish soup, a pleasingly creamy chowder.
Pernil asado, or roasted pork, is a classic Dominican favorite. Here, soft shards of meat and crisp pieces of skin make for fine eating. Roasted chicken -- knowingly seasoned, moist and coppery -- lives up to what you expect from Latin poultry. For truly hearty eaters, there are baby back ribs, a big, meaty, flavorsome rack. Another generous dish: camarones al ajillo, plump shrimp in a sauce that's gently, rather than harshly, informed with garlic. Rice and red or black beans are a traditional accompaniment.
The Cuban sandwich is said to have been born in Florida, but it's close to the hearts of most Dominicans. Here, fashioned with pork, ham, cheese, mayonnaise and pickles, it's grill-pressed to melting goodness, served with mustard. It deserves better, though, than the pre-frozen fries that share the plate; ask, instead, to substitute the restaurant's fine fried plantains. Mashed green plantains with garlic -- a dish of Puerto Rican origin known as mofongo -- is ordered with fried pork, a lively dipping sauce on the side. The meat is juicy, the dish hefty and hearty.
Portions here are enormous, so you'll have to consciously avoid being too full for the creamy, custardy flan or the good-and-gooey tres leches (three milks) cake.
Empty refrigerator at home? Not after you return with an armful of doggy bags.