When husband and wife Tony and Melody Vergara retired, Melody, a former correctional officer of 25 years wanted to travel. Tony, a former Teamster, always loved to cook and dreamed about opening up a restaurant.
So when a shop, which had been operating as a Dominican restaurant on the corner of Jackson Street and Kingsland Ave became available, the owner of the building was looking to fill the space with a business that benefited the community. Tony, who grew up in nearby Cooper Park Houses had been giving back to his childhood home for years, organizing events such as mini-olympics for local kids, basketball tournaments for teens, and school supply giveaways. He was friends with the super of the building, who told the landlord that “Tony’s a good guy” and soon A Taste of Heaven was open for business at 251 Jackson Street.
On the regular menu, you will find hearty dishes like BBQ chicken, spare ribs and turkey wings, along with a rotating menu of daily specials like oxtail and salmon on Fridays. Lunch and dinner entrees are served with two sides and cornbread, with a selection of soul food classics like collard greens, mac and cheese, rice and peas, candied yams and more. Each meal ranges in price from $11 to $20 but the portions are so large that just one can be like having three meals in one.
The health conscious couple is careful not to overuse salt and grease while maintaining the perfect balance of flavor. The secret to their success? “Wholesome soul food made with our number one ingredient, love,” says Chef Tony.
The menu at A Taste of Heaven is authentically home cooked – the kind of food Tony grew up on and would have now at home with the Vergara’s. The restaurant itself is peppered with decor and collectibles Melody brought from their house.
“Since the pandemic, we no longer have seating so I just thought we could spruce things up a bit and give people things to look at while they wait,” Melody says.
Among their personal artifacts, you will find a collection of Black history books that Melody inherited from her mom, who passed away two years ago. She decided to bring them in “when Black Lives Matter came into effect.” You will also find a large portrait of Billie Holiday alongside sculptures of jazz musicians from a vacation to New Orleans, significant because Tony is also a singer and Melody is “the love of his life.”
“A Taste of Heaven” also has a dual meaning because “all the people are welcome in heaven, and it also happens to be our youngest daughter’s name,” says Melody.
A Taste of Heaven stands out for the sense of warmth, fellowship, family, and community that you feel in every bite. This is why they have grown such a loyal following of regular customers in the neighborhood. They’ve also received some greater accolades beyond this small corner of Brooklyn, having been rated #1 by Yelp in Top 100 Places to eat in NYC in 2021.
A Taste of Heaven is open Tuesday-Saturday, 12PM-7PM and is located at 251 Jackson Street. Pick-up only. No dine in or delivery (Tony stressed this point saying Grubhub and Doordash had “stolen” his menu without his permission).
Call to order ahead or inquire about catering options at (718) 576-3146!
Not sure what to order? Our go-to is BBQ Chicken with mac & cheese and rice & peas.