Amaranto, the recently opened Mexican restaurant located at 887 Hart Street in Bushwick, is serving upscale, modern cuisine unlike you’ve ever tasted.
Following the opening of another Mexican cuisine hangout La Lupe, new resto on the block Amaranto is the product of owner/manager Fernando Teco, who has worked in the restaurant biz for 25 years. His son, Fermin, is the brain behind the spectacular, surprising, delicious food. Inspired by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià of the famous El Bulli restaurant, Fermin is taking the foods he grew up with in Puebla, Mexico, and transforming them into gastronomic feats.
You can start off your meal with a number of appetizers, including a tamale made with huitlacoche, a fungus grown on corn that’s considered a delicacy in Mexico. The tamale, tender and moist, is nestled in a rich yet subtly spiced sauce and adorned with chorizo and mussels. If corn fungus ain’t your thing, the crabmeat tostadas are a symphony of creamy, savory, crunchy flavors and textures.
Entrees are just as memorable. Skip the requisite burrito or enchilada and try one of Fermin’s totally unique creations, like the soup made with huauzontle, a vegetable closely resembling broccoli but slightly bitter in flavor. The vegetable is pureed into a vibrant green and garnished with oyster mushrooms, corn, tomato confit, and picked carrots. The result is a cleansing yet still indulgent soup, and guaranteed to be like nothing you’ve tasted before.
Another fabulous entrée was the cod a la plancha – crispy cod served with parsnip puree, corn, spinach, and mole Queretaro. This particular mole is lighter in color less pungent than the traditional mole poblano served in most Mexican restaurants.
This mole and other sauces are Fermin’s specialty. The humble chef is a master at creating special, delicate flavors in his sauces. Trained at Italian and French restaurants Manhattan before returning to his roots, Fermin always wanted to cook food from his home country. “I don’t want to forget where I came from.” he says. “It’s important [for me] to show the many and infinite flavors of Mexican cuisine.”
The elder Teco explained that when he first came to the U.S. in the 1970s, he couldn’t find real Mexican ingredients anywhere. He humorously told me he found epazote, a Mexican herb used in cooking that looks a lot like marijuana, growing in Central Park. But now, he says, harder to find chiles and spices can be found locally. One of those ingredients is amaranth, or amaranto in spanish, an ancient grain which can be found in cookies and candies in Mexico.
While the restaurant doesn’t have its liquor license yet, Fernando is doing his best at making patrons feel like they’re getting the five-star treatment. He serves Martinelli’s on ice like it’s the finest wine in the world. But the quality of the food and reasonable prices are enough to stand alone. Everything on the menu is less than $20 and Chef Fermin doesn’t skimp on ingredients.
Don’t expect to be in and out of Amaranto in 30 minutes — this is a place to sit down properly and enjoy a meal. The father and son team are eager for you to enjoy their food, and with brunch and a delivery service coming soon, soon there will be more than one way to savor Amaranto. So come, put your phone away, linger, and taste Mexican beyond the burrito.
Amaranto is located at 887 Hart Street. Hours: 2:00pm-10:00pm daily. Phone: (718) 576-6001