Serious Eats: New York
More Advice for Eating at Nano Billiards, NYC's Best Dominican Restaurant
I've been returning, sporadically over the last few months, in hopes of landing a bowl of their illusive chivito, a country-style goat stew. (My love for goat has come up previously on this site.) It's still eluded me, but there are plenty of other reasons to come and enjoy chef Anita's cooking, some of the best in the south Bronx.
One of them is her take on chicken and rice, Locrio de Pollo (Wednesdays; all dishes $8 with rice, beans, and salad), that may be wholly unfamiliar to New Yorkers accustomed to the chicken and rice found at halal carts. Locrio sometimes means a dish of pork cooked with rice, but it also can be an informal catch-all for rice cooked with any kind of meat.
There's no white sauce with this chicken and rice, just the fragrance of sofrito—an aromatic base of sautéd tomato, pepper, and onion—and the briny bliss of olives. The chicken, which is presented in the form of nubby, chopped up bits occasionally still on the bone, is itself less impressive than the flavorful rice.
The meat's a little dry, but the rice, lubricated by schmaltz, olive brine, tomato, and herbs, more than makes up for it. For a step up in meat options, go for the Locrio de Cerdo, the same rice cooked with pork belly and shoulder. Another reason to order rice here, and one you won't find at halal carts: the browned concon or pegao, burnt rice that clusters at the bottom of the pot. It's nutty, caramelized, and crunchy, the joy of savory brittle.
Rice is one reason to love Nano. Guisado, stew in a number of formats, is another. Almost all of them, guisado de res notwithstanding, are delicious. The Guisado de Cerdo, complete with a glistening slab of pork belly, is almost impossible to resist.
But the single best stewed dish here is the Guisado de Costillas, stewed pork ribs. Swimming in sauce, the meat is as tender as you could possibly want, its flavor a union of fatty pork with rich braising juices and a hint of brine. With some plain rice and a cold beer, it's a candidate for one of the best things to eat anywhere in the borough.
About the author: Chris Crowley is the author of the Bronx Eats and Anatomy of A Smorgasburg Pop Up columns. Follow him on Twitter, if you'd like. In person, your best bet is the window seat at Neerob, or waiting in line at the Lechonera La Piranha trailer.