Off the Beaten Path: Albert's Mofongo House
Soon after a friend moved to Inwood in upper Manhattan he told me of a 24-hour restaurant near his place that specializes in the Puerto Rican dish known as mofongo. Not to be confused with the beef tripe soup known as mondongo, mofongo is a hearty ribsticking dish made from mashed plantains. Within a week of his move I found myself taking possibly the longest train ride I’ve ever taken for food, DiFara’s running a close second. As soon I exited the A train at Dyckman Street I spotted the temple of all things mofongo: Albert’s Mofongo House.
The place is literally a shrine to mofongo. A painting of a grandfatherly old man mashing plantains along with garlic and onion adorns one wall. Next to my table sat a huge pilón, or mortar, big enough for Paul Bunyan to mash mofongo. A page on the menu labeled Mofongo Mania lists more than a dozen varieties. Rather than go for chicken, goat, oxtail, or for that matter lobster, I chose the most traditional variety, chiccharon. After all, if I’m going to eat close to pound of mashed starch, I want as much pork as possible to accompany it.
The folks behind Albert’s are Dominican, but they’re not playing when it comes to mofongo. The caplike mass of mashed plantains perched atop the pilón is shot through with plenty of porky goodness and packs a garlicky wallop that stayed with me for hours. Just in case there isn’t enough chiccharon in the mofongo itself, there’s some more on the side. Place a chunk or two on top of the mofongo, pour some of the broth on and think of it as a meaty ice cream sundae. In case you’re wondering, the platter in the background does contain a Cuban sandwich. What can I say? I’m trying to get back up to my fighting weight.
Albert’s is open 24 hours, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to eat something so heavy in the middle of the night. Then again, if I lived around the corner…
Albert's Mofongo House
4762 Broadway, New York NY 10034 (map)