Neighborhood Kitchens

Neighborhood Kitchens Visits Casa Romero

By Margarita Martinez

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July 22, 2012

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Don Leo and I outside of Casa Romero.

Listen to my conversation about Casa Romero with Morning Edition host Bob Seay on WGBH 89.7 FM

BOSTON — Casa Romero holds a special place in my heart because it was the first episode we shot for Neighborhood Kitchens.
 

Forty-five years ago when Chef Don Leo Romero opened his first restaurant, he truly was a pioneer. His current restaurant, Casa Romero, has been running in its original location off of Newbury Street for forty years. It felt like I was discovering a hidden gem when I entered from the tiny alleyway into the colorfully decorated Casa Romero. It was an education to listen to Chef Don Leo talk about why he felt so moved to share his culture and authentic Mexican cuisine with Bostonians. He was an absolute delight.

Don Leo talks about the unique location of Casa Romero.

I wish that we had more than thirty minutes because there were so many wonderful stories that Don Leo shared with us that we could not fit in the episode. There were stories about what the restaurant scene was like in the early 1970s, the history of Mexican cuisine and words like ‘chipotle’ (in the Navajo language, “chile” means pepper and “-potle” means smoked), and how he continues to travel to Mexico City to discover new dishes and tastes that he wants to incorporate into what he serves at Casa Romero.

Through the recipes on the show, Chef Don Leo teaches us some of the basics, or the foundations, of Mexican cooking. He wasn’t concerned with sharing his most impressive dish. Chef Don Leo largely wanted to demonstrate how anyone can make Mexican dishes such as Salsa Verde and Ceviche Acapulco at home. After learning the foundations, you can then make your dish as fancy or as casual as you would like. This sentiment is best demonstrated in his recipe for Chilaquiles, which we could not fit in the episode, but do feature on our website. They are so simple to make! All you need is some homemade salsa, some corn tortillas, and you are on your way to a very versatile and satisfying meal. I can understand why Chef Don Leo believes that Chilaquiles will one day surpass pizza in popularity.

While working on this episode, I loved learning the foundations of not only cooking Mexican cuisine, but of the culinary history of Mexico, which is international in itself. As Don Leo points out, Mexican cuisine benefits from many of the spices and ingredients brought over alongtrade routes hundreds of years ago. I am so glad that Casa Romero is a thriving institution in the Back Bay and that Boston and New England benefit from Chef Don Leo’s wealth of information and passion for Mexican culture and food.

*****

Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Casa Romero in Back Bay.

VISIT NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS

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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44


About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
»
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi

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