Mamajuana Cafe Prime has many flavorful options for appetizers. Pictured here are the mouthwatering beef and chicken skewers, fried plantain topped with ropa vieja, and beet salad. ANGELICA NIEDERMEYER/ THE QUADRANGLE
By Angelica Niedermeyer, Features Editor
In addition to being the home of the Jaspers, the neighborhood of Riverdale is known for its tight knit community, proximity to Manhattan and a wide range of must-visit restaurants. During the week of April 15th to 22nd, Riverdale held its second annual Riverdale Restaurant Week with 33 participating eateries of all cuisines.
Riverdale restaurant week was organized and co-sponsored by Michael Gabert, owner of Flexis Media, and Laura Levine-Pinedo, General Manager of Bronx Burger House and founder of 4 Bronx Project.
“I manage a restaurant right here in Riverdale,” shared Levine-Pinedo in a Dine Out Riverdale Youtube video from 2022. “I notice that a lot of us, our restaurants, don’t participate for some reason in New York City Restaurant Week or Bronx Restaurant Week. Maybe they get overlooked or whatever the reason may be, Mike and I had this idea to do a Riverdale Restaurant Week to highlight the restaurants right here in Riverdale and our community to bring people closer together.”
The participating restaurants, delis and cafés have special menus and deals to engage diners from all over to come out for the restaurant week. The Quadrangle had the opportunity to visit three restaurants participating, try various cuisines and talk to their employees about the exciting week planned.
Mamajuana Cafe Prime, located on 3541 Riverdale Ave., is a vibrant and floral decorated Dominican cuisine restaurant whose hibiscus lights guide customers to the purple accented bar. Their restaurant week menu included a $45 fixed menu with appetizer options like Spanish ham croquetas and empanadas and entrees like their classic mofongo, or green plantains pressed with garlic and fried pork crackling. For dessert, Mamajuana served white bread pudding with dulce de leche with vanilla ice cream.
The Quadrangle had the opportunity to talk with a Mamajuana employee who loves working there. Melissa Cruz has been a server and bartender at Mamajuana for three months.
“Don’t let the Dominican theme fool you, but we do have more than just mofongo,” said Cruz. “You’ll love it. It’s so good, very flavorful, everything we have.”
She explains that this is the second time the establishment has participated in the restaurant week and that last year was very successful. Her favorite part about the event is the new crowds.
“So far, there’s a lot of different people that have been coming in to try a lot of different things and just meeting different types of people,” says Cruz. “It’s pretty cool. I like that.”
Palace of Japan at 3505 Johnson Ave. also participated in the restaurant week. The Japanese restaurant offered a special $29 bento box with choices of salmon teriyaki, chicken teriyaki, shrimp & vegetable tempura, chicken katsu, tofu teriyaki and baked eggplant. The bento box also includes miso soup and salad and a choice of ice cream or tempura ice cream for dessert.
On the regular menu, the restaurant which welcomes locals and students from MC features delicious signature sushi rolls inspired by Riverdale streets like the Johnson Ave. and the Riverdale Roll. The restaurant’s quality, joined by a bar, holds up to its palace name.
Eson Chen, the manager of Palace of Japan, shares that this is the second time the restaurant participated in the restaurant week. This year, singer Ida Metsberg performed with her guitar.
“For this year, it’s more organized,” Chen said. “On Monday, […] they sent a guitar player to have live music. So even though it was just one hour, it gave a different amazing experience for the customer. That’s the first time we have had live music playing.”
Chen’s favorite part about the local restaurant week is the new customers coming in from other places. She also says that all the restaurant owners in Riverdale are united and want people to spread the word of Riverdale’s restaurants.
“Basically, we can get more customers, new customers from outside of Riverdale,” said Chen.“They get to know about Riverdale’s environment, the food, the cuisines and the people.”
Described as “Not Your Typical Steakhouse” on their website, the casual local Home BX Steakhouse opened in 2022. The restaurant on 224 West 238th street is furnished with long tables accompanied by a live piano which bounces off the brick walls and adds a community atmosphere to the juicy steak dishes.
For the restaurant week, the steakhouse offers a $50 fixed menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Appetizers included a new caesar salad for the restaurant, roasted eggplant dip, crabcakes and pork belly. Entrees were salmon with vegetables, beef bourguignon, NY Strip and lamb chops. Dessert was a choice of next door’s famous S&S Cheesecake and a new coconut cream dish for the restaurant, dulcito e coco.
Norman Martinez, general manager of Home BX Steakhouse explains that the first restaurant week last year was amazing.
“I like what they [the organizers] are doing now because it brings more people to the area,” said Martinez.
Although he says that in comparison this year started quiet, on Saturdays and Sundays more people started to come in to try their food.
“There’s a lot of amazing restaurants,” said Martinez. “[…] I have friends that have restaurants around here. People don’t know that. So, it [restaurant week] brings new people to the community and people can get to know all the amazing food we have.”
Home BX Steakhouse was also included in the NYC restaurant week, but Martinez shares that it is not the same because of the large scale of the event.
“With the Riverdale [restaurant week], it’s more for the community, it’s more intimate.”
Martinez wants the Riverdale community to know that they are steakhouse quality food, but without the fancy tablecloths and dress code. They also do live music on weekends.
“We are a steakhouse right, but I don’t want people to think that we are like a typical steakhouse,” said Martinez. “[…] I want people to have fun and enjoy themselves when they’re here.”
Riverdale restaurant week is all about highlighting the different types of high quality food shared by the community and getting the word out to visitors. Although this restaurant week is only two years old, the week is hoped by restaurants to continue for next year for people of all palettes to enjoy the best dishes of the Riverdale neighborhood in The Bronx.