I’ll be totally honest and admit that when Steph gave me a list of options for places to meet in Hoboken, I picked Cucharamama because it was the most fun to say. And the food at this Latin restaurant is as good as the name, so much so that it earned itself a James Beard award.
If a restaurant doesn’t offer complimentary bread, I don’t care; however, if they do offer it and it’s not good, I judge. Thankfully, that was not the case here. The flatbread we received at the start of the evening was nicely seasoned and had a good wood-fired char taste. We snacked on it while drinking cocktails (mezcal and grapefruit for me, tequila with triple sec and lime for Steph) before moving to a bottle of tempranillo. Good start to the meal.
Next, we shared a couple apps – the calamari and the shrimp ceviche. While I like calamari, it’s not something I usually order because I feel like I can get it anywhere. Here, though, I really liked the rocoto and tamarillo sauce that was served with it. I don’t know what either of those things are, but it was delicious and something a little different than your standard aioli. It was a yellowish, oil-based sauce (though thicker than you’d imagine) that was a little sweet and a little peppery. Yum. The ceviche wasn’t quite a ceviche and tasted more like a cooked shrimp dish in a tomato broth. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it was tasty, especially with the pickled onions…though I could have had one or two more shrimp in there. Am I being greedy?
For her entree, Steph ordered the shrimp in a creamy pink pepper sauce. It looked quite good. I also got shrimp, though mine were from the appetizer side and came in a sweet pepper sauce that was nice and thick, stewed down with beans for a nice starch accompaniment, making it quite filling. I also ordered a quinoa app and a chorizo and peppers app. No need to bother with the quinoa, but the chorizo and peppers hit the spot and felt like I was at a cookout in Ecuador.
Very happy to learn that Cucharamama is more than just a fun name.