When I met Chef Piña, I learned it is the Dominican dishes from his restaurant Merengue that the Red Sox enjoy during home games at Fenway.
******Hector Piña moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1986. Eight years later, in August 1994, he opened his restaurant, Merengue – quite by accident. He had been helping a friend sell a restaurant she owned in Roxbury and when they couldn’t find a buyer, she suggested he purchase it. Piña started out with five tables and a menu of authentic Dominican cuisine. Fast-forward seventeen years and he has thirty tables, an events space and caters home games at Fenway Park.
Merengue has now become the jewel of Dominican cuisine in Boston, serving a clientele of movie stars and famous baseball players. And as a Roxbury institution, Merengue hosts many politicians who want to reach out to this key community. Piña considers this civic engagement as part of the responsibility of running a community restaurant. He has served on the advisory board of events like Jolgorio Navideno, a Latin American gala in Boston that raises funds for Latino-based educational programs, and VOTO Latino, a civic organization that promotes community participation in local politics.
Piña and his wife Nivia’s next project is to open a new Puerto Rican restaurant, Vejigante, in the South End.
*****Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Merengue and Roxbury.
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