Just when you thought that Greenpoint eating could not get any more exotic and there was no room left for another local ethnic place, along comes a great Venezuelan place called Avila (685 Manhattan Avenue) that is causing a stir amongst local foodies.
The two Venezuelan Arellano brothers, Allan and Frank, started the place just a few months ago. Greenpoint is now a very competitive market for a new restaurant, but they seem to have a growing following. Avila has a modest décor, but the food is so good it doesn’t need a splendid ambience.
Arepas are the traditional dish of Venezuela, and Venezuelans claim that their indigenous people invented the dish. An arepa is a flat, round, soaked corn patty. It can be topped or filled with meat, eggs, vegetables and other stuff. Although it was born in Venezuela, people in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Panama and the Dominican Republic eat arepas. In El Salvador they are known as pupusas.
I had tried Arepas at another place years before and was unimpressed. The cornmeal was dry and somewhat brittle, but recently I heard a number of locals at Peter Pan Dounuts raving about Avila, so my wife and I decided to give it a try. We began with soups—my red bean and plantain soup was great, and my wife adored the lentil.
At Avila the arpeas are baked and stuffed with different filings and covered in homemade sauces. I ordered the Pabellón, which was an arepa with shredded beef, black beans and sweet plantains. The cornmeal was cooked to perfection, light and moist. The fillings were delicious.
My wife is hard-to-please with food. She ordered the Caribbean, which contained fresh sardines, with picadillo crillo, which contains red pepper, cilantro, onions and vinaigrette and avocado. She raved about its freshness and piquant taste. Not only were the arepas tasty, but also they were also reasonably priced. Both arepas cost less than ten bucks a piece.
We didn’t order entrees, which cost from around fifteen bucks to twenty, but we’ll definitely return. Go there now while it is still relatively undiscovered. The secret of its great food and reasonable prices wont last long.