A sincere passion for food is the driving force at Madera in Long Island City. Staying true to her family’s Cuban roots, owner Miriam Porto has established a significant customer base through her genuine appreciation of her culture, culinary roots and an eye for detail. Each dish at Madera is carefully designed and created for the customer. Filled with slow cooked meats, savory tender vegetables and brilliantly flavored seafood, the menu at Madera is truly magnificent.
“Before the opening of the restaurant, I had my chef stay in the kitchen with my mother for two years, watching her cook, learning,” Porto said as she explained the history behind the cuisine.
Hailing from a creative, culinary-inspired family, Porto decided that she would open Madera and give customers the same quality she would expect in her own home.
“I do all the grocery shopping myself, up to five times a week,” she said.
We began our culinary adventure with stuffed green plantains and Cuban-style grilled shrimp. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, marinated in the chef’s secret recipe. Artfully presented, buttery, surprisingly light – a must try! The stuffed green plantains have lean meat marinated in garlic, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, olives, raisins and capers stuffed inside a plantain shell. I enjoyed the consistency of the meat, tangy mixture of the tomato and raisins, and most importantly, the overall fusion of ingredients.
The food isn’t the only thing that stands out upon entering this Cuban eatery. The atmosphere at Madera deserves an award in itself – rich mahogany, dim lighting, a distinctive ambiance heightened by brilliant artwork. Most of the paintings that grace the walls are courtesy of Miriam’s husband. His artistry is a truly distinctive contribution to the establishment, and it is more than obvious that creativity runs in the family.
The quality is blatantly obvious in the food as we begin our entrees – the “lechon asado con mojo criollo” presents succulent, slow roasted pork with a side of dirty rice. The pork is cooked for up to seven hours and melts in your mouth – truly delicious. If you’re in the mood for beef, order the skirt steak. Tender, flavorful, grilled, presented with lemon and chimichurri sauce, which is almost too good to eat, and can be added to anything for an instant burst of flavor.
The culinary marathon came to an end with the Chilean sea bass, served on a bed of jasmine rice with sautéed vegetables. An exquisite presentation, savory, cooked to perfection – one of the most memorable renditions of the dish I’ve tried thus far.
From appetizer to entrée each dish we tried was succulent, presenting an assortment of unforgettable flavors within a charming atmosphere. The entire meal was narrated by soothing strums of guitar and harmonizing vocals, as Madera offers live music throughout the week.
Located on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, this establishment combines authentic cuisine with a sincere passion for food, which is obvious to each and every customer that enters their charming Cuban eatery.
Madera Cuban Grill
47-29 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Reservations, Delivery, Take-out, Full Bar
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