â€‹The Sound Shore is dotted with Mexican restaurants where you can be coddled with cheese or explore the far reaches of Latin cuisine. Not so at DonJito in Mamaroneck, where if there’s a greasy dish, I haven’t tried it. (Even loaded yucca fries with chorizo seem only a distant fry relation.) The sibling of Med-Mex taco joint PopoJito in Scarsdale, DonJito has gone Nuevo Latino, with a tacos-and-tapas menu in which the Mediterranean still holds sway.
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PopoJito solved Scarsdale’s taco problem (namely, the town’s lack of them), and was opened by Constantine Kalandranis, whose Med-locavore spin I’ve followed from 8 North Broadway in Nyack to Harrison’s 273 Kitchen. Though he’s since left, his influence lingers in the intriguing palette used by chef J. Carlos Rodriguez (Dos Caminos, Café Centro). Rodriguez and Jeffrey Rosen, director of the PopoJito restaurant group, have judiciously re-upped the concept for Mamaroneck Avenue with share plates, entrées, and full bar.
The look has been transformed, as well. If you knew it as Spice Kitchen, wipe the slate — you’re now sitting under a bridge in Texas, thanks to maverick designer Welcome Bienvenue, who’s installed his trademark faux-metal ceiling fixtures.
Tacos are at the heart of this operation. Be sure to order some, including the salmon with mango-habañero salsa. Also throw in some portobello, shiitake, and cremini mushroom tacos topped with jalapeño goat cheese, micro cilantro, and crispy bits of huitlacoche, or a Mexican Coke–braised short rib version that cradles cubes of candied chipotle bacon and fried shallots.
Make the rest of your order tapas. Don’t miss gambas al ajillo in white wine sauce, perfectly paired with corn mousseline. “Beets three ways” is a necklace of roasted golden, puréed red, and raw candy-cane beets strung with jicama and pearl onion. Crisp octopus doesn’t quite meld with burst tomatoes and a-tad-too-sweet balsamic-onion jam. Dark, refreshing gazpacho, dammed to the side of a striped bowl by a wall of heirloom tomatoes and cucumber, releases a righteous heat wave with each spoonful.
For the table, you might get albondigas picante (spicy meatballs) made with tortilla chips, that are not overly hot and a bit like mom’s. Or try the blistered shishito peppers, guacamole, wings with red chile tzatziki, or chorizo flatbread (one of the few non-gluten-free items on the menu).
Cocktails are your dance partner. On my first visit, while others at the bar threw back Casamigas añejo and Brooklyn Summer Ale on draft, I sipped a Bacardi Banana–spiked horchata that I would order again in a heartbeat. Ditto for the Mexican Cooler with 123 Organic Tequila, watermelon, and jalapeño. Port Chester–distilled StilltheOne gin is on offer in a Pomelo Sparkler cocktail with grapefruit, lemon and prosecco, as are red, white, rosé, and orange sangrias.
Sorry I haven’t gotten to the entrées, folks. Smart money is on red snapper with cauliflower, grilled chayote, and chipotle-coconut foam, or duck-confit enchiladas with mole poblano, mole rojo, and anise crema.
Whatever you do, definitely end with churros for dipping in melted bittersweet chocolate — wonderful!
â€‹122 Mamaroneck Ave
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