Food in the Rivertowns
Sleepy Hollow News

Croquetería: Cuban Finger Food in Sleepy Hollow

• Bookmarks: 21


September 29, 2021

By Shana Liebman —

Sleepy Hollow is home to great traditional Spanish and Latin restaurants — which is why Croquetería may have slipped under your radar. Another reason why locals might not know about this family-run Cuban gem is that it bravely opened in October 2020, during the height of the pandemic. It’s also a very quiet place, with a subtle yet modern black and white décor and a small blackboard menu.

Advertisement
  • Abbott House Awards Dinner
  • Irvington Theater Videos for Change

But this newly renovated corner café (located at 166 Cortlandt Street in Sleepy Hollow) is a place that you should know about, because — croquettes. They melt in your mouth and haunt your cravings. The small bite-sized logs are lightly breaded and fried to order, so they arrive crispy and hot with a silky, savory middle. The creamy béchamel (see recipe below) is mixed with seasonal fillings—ham, chicken, cheese, salted cod, crab, spinach and cheese, mushrooms, ropa vieja, black beans and even pumpkin.

croquetas-de-pollo-croqueteria-sleepy-hollow
Croquetas de pollo (Shana Liebman/The Hudson Independent)

Although croquettes have yet to take off in America, these originally French appetizers are wildly popular in Cuba. According to Cuban-born blogger (“A Sassy Spoon”) Jamie Silva, “Growing up in a Cuban family, you’re pretty much eating croquetas de jamón since birth.”

But Croquetería, despite its name, also considers itself the “home of the real Cuban sandwich” (as written on their storefront awning). And their made-to-order, perfectly pressed Cuban is made with love—along with daily-roasted mojo pork, sweet ham, spicy mustard and fresh pickle. The crispy sandwich wrapped in faux newspaper is the best in town. “What makes our recipe authentic is that we cook here at our restaurant the same way we cook at home — which is how our family has been cooking for generations,” Pablo Zequeira, whose parents are the owners and chefs at Croquetería, explains.

croqueteria cuban sandwich
Croquetería’s cuban sandwich (Shana Liebman/The Hudson Independent)

Pablo’s father, Carlos Zequeira, modeled his Cubans on the ones he ate when his grandmother took him to the movies every weekend in Havana. “Next to the theater there would be an American-styled cafeteria and that was the only place where you could find the Cuban sandwich (in Cuba it is only called sandwich and all other sandwiches in Cuba would be called
bocaditos).”

Another Cuban staple at Croquetería is ropa vieja — which appears in both a croquette and a sandwich. “There are few dishes as quintessentially Cuban as ropa vieja, which translates to ‘old clothes’ in Spanish,” explains food writer Taryn Pire, who describes the dish as a shredded beef stew often served with black beans and rice.

“We have had it at our family table since I was a small boy,” Pablos says. “But even customers who know what ropa vieja is have never heard of the sandwich.”

This juicy shredded-beef sandwich on pressed bread — and all of Croquetería’s homey finger food, from the fresh avocado sandwich to the meaty crab croquette — belong at zestful gatherings of friends and family. And this makes sense because that is how Carlos and his wife, Niurka Guirola Zequeira, started cooking.

Niurka-Guirola-Zequeira
Niurka Guirola Zequeira opened Croquetería with husband Carlos in October 2020. (Shana Liebman/The Hudson Independent)

Before Croquetería, Carlos (a writer who left Cuba with a book of banned poems) and Niurka (an editor and art school graduate) ran a Cuban art magazine and published Cuban authors. They also cooked for the literary events that they hosted, where Carlos says, “people came for the croquetas and not for the ‘art.’” The couple soon turned to catering and eventually to this mostly take-out café placed strategically in a neighborhood full of Spanish-speaking neighbors (on Cortlandt Street at Depeyster).

croqueteria-exterior-sleepy-hollow
(Shana Liebman/The Hudson Independent)

In addition to the elderly Cubans who stop by to gossip with Carlos about the old country, fans from all over Westchester (and beyond) have started making regular visits to the small cafe — in the morning for the strong Cuban coffee, and later for the sandwiches and croquettes. The menu varies daily (they are open Wednesdays-Sundays) and can be limited midweek. Also, Croquetería might close early — if, say, they run out of bread. But once word gets out about this place, the chefs are going to have to restock more often — and maybe find a cousin or two to help fry up those luscious croquettes.

RECIPE: BECHAMEL SAUCE (FOR CROQUETAS)

This béchamel sauce, which originated in France and made its way to Spain and then to Cuba, is a crucial part of Cuban cuisine. It’s also the base for Croquetería’s traditional croquetas.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper
Optional additions: ham, chicken, cod, spinach, mushroom — or anything else you choose

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan and then mix in flour. In another saucepan, heat the milk over medium until it warms, then lower the heat.
2. Slowly combine the butter and flour mixture with the warm milk, whisking constantly for about 4 or 5 minutes, until the color is golden and the sauce has thickened. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue to whisk until the sauce starts to separate from from the pan.
3. Add other ingredients as desired. Mix with the béchamel. Let it cool.

 

Share the News!
Advertisement
Andrea Martone - Westchester and Rivertowns Real Estate - Houlihan Lawrence agent

Election 2021: Experiences with Village Motivated Bartolacci to Seek Office

By Rick Pezzullo — When Peter Bartolacci submitted plans to construct two-tiered retaining walls in the rear and side yards...
Read More

Recipe: Farmers Market Fall Pasta

By Linda Viertel — Before everyone dives into squash recipes, apple pie baking and root vegetable roasts, take time to...
Read More

Homecoming Night a Treat for Horsemen Football Fans

By Kevin Brown — Last Friday night (Oct. 8), the world seemed back to normal at Sleepy Hollow High School....
Read More

Mercy Adjuncts Escalate Pay, Benefits Dispute

By Brianna Staudt — Picket signs and hand-distributed flyers greeted cars at the gate of the prestigious Ardsley Country Club...
Read More

Senior Captain Regalado Big Reason Dobbs Ferry Has High Hopes

By Tom Pedulla--- Jose Regalado’s father, Francisco, would not allow him to play football until he reached the sixth grade...
Read More

Sleepy Hollow Says Good-bye to Chick Galella

By Brianna Staudt — Family, friends and neighbors laid beloved World War II hero and public figure Armando "Chick" Galella...
Read More

Greenburgh’s First Town Hall Farmers Market Attracts Hundreds; Encore Thursday

By Linda Viertel — Hundreds of shoppers flowed through the parking lot at Greenburgh Town Hall for the first ever...
Read More

Former Mayor Fixell Endorses Brown in Tarrytown Mayoral Race

By Rick Pezzullo — One of the three candidates running for mayor in the Village of Tarrytown recently received a...
Read More

Five Express Interest In Developing Property Leased by Boat Club

By Barrett Seaman— The Washington Irving Boat Club was joined by four other parties in submitting RFQ/RFI (Request for Qualifications/Request...
Read More

ARMANDO ‘CHICK’ GALELLA, HERO, DIES AT 100

By Brianna Staudt — Sleepy Hollow may be host to "The Legend (of Sleepy Hollow)," but locals of North Tarrytown...
Read More
21 recommended
0 notes
1010 views
bookmark icon