Pico de gallo — the Mexican relish of chopped tomatoes, onions, chilies and cilantro – can make or break the dish it accompanies. Too often, however, the mixture is undone by pale, soggy over-chilled tomatoes.
Which is why I came close to not ordering the “rise and shine quesadilla” at the Imperial Diner in Freeport. The breakfast special consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, roasted pepper and both Cheddar and jack cheeses wrapped in a flour tortilla, grilled and accompanied by guacamole and the all-important pico de gallo.
Good thing I ordered the dish anyway, since, oh, what a fresh and vibrant pico de gallo it turned out to be. Those bright red chopped tomatoes were enough to temporarily restore faith in the Long Island diner. I only wish that the exterior of the tortilla hadn’t been griddled to the consistency of cardboard. The solution? I ate the inside, lavishly topped with perky guacamole and lots of you-know-what.
The Imperial Diner is at 63 W. Merrick Rd., Freeport, 516-868-0303, imperialdiner.com.
Newsday Photo of "rise and shine" quesadilla/Joan Reminick