On Oct. 19, the owners of Sobre Masa Cafe and Bar in Williamsburg opened Sobre Masa Tortilleria, a tortilla factory at 52 Harrison Place. In addition to a production facility for fresh tortillas, Sobre Masa Tortilleria houses a small taqueria with a limited menu of tacos and drinks.
The new torilleria looks like a warmer version of that specific type of restaurant that has been trendy for a while — natural wood finishes, industrial lighting, a cavernous space and the feeling that it is very, very clean — but with pink terracotta walls, hanging kites and 200,000 pounds of corn sitting in sacks.
“I think we are the only tortilleria strictly focusing on working with heirloom corn,” said owner Zack Wangerman, who grew up in Oaxaca. “I think what we are doing is still very unique to NYC. We are always bringing different types of corn from all over Mexico. We put the variety of corn on our packaging of tortillas because we want to showcase the diversity of heirloom corn.”
The simple menu features a couple types of tortillas and three types of fillings (al pastor, steak and cauliflower) that you can get in a taco or in various tortilla concoctions with melted Oaxacan cheese.
In front of the restaurant’s entrance is the tortilla-making operation, where they press tortillas to serve at the restaurant, to buy in paper packages and to supply to a few other restaurants. Sobre Masa imports more than 12 types of heirloom corn from Mexico.
“We want to have a space that is actively trying to support a strong community in Mexico,” said Wangerman. “From the corn we use, to the foundations fighting GMO corn, to representing the seamingly simple yet deceptively complex ingredients and preparation that revolves around the al pastor taco.”
After graduating high school, Wangerman moved to the United States, studied at the Culinary Institute of America, and went on to work at some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants. He first started their tortilla business in a series of pop-ups. Then, he and his wife Diane opened the Sobre Masa in Williamsburg before opening this new Bushwick location.
“The menu at the cafe Williamsburg focuses on nightlife, with weekend DJs and a simple menu revolving around tapas,” Wangerman said. “The menu at the tortilleria in Bushwick is centered around tacos and a strong cocktail program focusing on Mexican spirits.”
The cocktail menu, created by Gaston Graffigna, features four impressive drinks with ingredients you might have to Google. The “In the Clouds” includes Tejuino (a fermented corn drink), Paranubes rum, Nixta (a corn liqueur) and lime, with others centering around mezcal and charanda (a sugarlane spirit).
Eventually, the restaurant will also include a coffee, pastry and retail shop.
“We are excited to have a team where we are all working together to share the love for heirloom corn and tortillas around NYC,” Wangerman said.
Sobre Masa is located at 52 Harrison Place, a 30 second walk from the Morgan L stop.
Images: Melisa Hom
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