The normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations seems to be having an effect on the Long Island dining scene. In July, Queens’ venerable Cuban restaurant, Rincon Criollo, opened a second location in Huntington. Now Guajiro has opened in Port Washington.
The restaurant takes over the Manorhaven Boulevard spot that most recently housed the short-lived Colombian restaurant Dolce, and before that, ¡Ay Que Rico!, Livorno and Nick & Pedro’s.
Chef-owner Manny Matos, a graduate of Syosset’s Culinary Academy of Long Island (now called Star Career Academy), formerly cooked at Havana Central at Roosevelt Field and Otto’s on the Nautical Mile in Freeport. He has put together a menu featuring such Cuban classics as empanadas ($8 for three), chicharron de pollo (crispy chicken bites, $8), picadillo (Cuban-style ground beef, $14), shrimp in garlic sauce ($19), ropa vieja (pot roast, $16), pernil asado (roast pork, $15) and churrasco (skirt steak, $26).
With its terracotta-tiled floors, ceiling fans and a spacious back patio decorated with a lively mural, Guajiro has an upbeat, tropical feel.
The opening of Guajiro (pronounced “gua HE row,” according to Matos) makes five Cuban restaurants on Long Island; it joins Rincon Criollo, Havana Central, Corazon de Cuba in Long Beach and Café Havana in Smithtown.
Guajiro Restaurant is at 95 Manorhaven Blvd., Port Washington, 516-439-5577.