One of the Mile Square City’s more celebrated restaurants quietly closed late last month, but a new endeavor with a familiar menu has already started serving customers out of the space.
Zafra, a Cuban bistro at 301 Willow Avenue, suddenly closed their doors over the Thanksgiving holiday. The cozy BYOB restaurant had been in business for about two decades as the brainchild of Clara Chaumont and Cuban-born chef Maricel Presilla.
The pair later opened Cucharamama just a block away back in 2004, which earned Presilla her first James Beard nomination. She was named a semi-finalist for Outstanding Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region in both 2014 and 2015 and the pair of restaurants helped draw some attention to Hoboken’s restaurant scene west of Washington Street.
While Cucharamama at 233 Clinton Street is still open, Zafra’s Willow Avenue space has been taken over by a restaurant called Changó Kitchen. A spokesperson for Cucharamama confirmed to Jersey Digs that Chef Presilla isn’t involved in the new endeavor, but much of the menu at Changó Kitchen is reminiscent of Zafra’s selections.
The new restaurant is being led by Ceferino Fernandez and underwent modest renovations before re-opening late last week. Much of the food Zafra was known for like their yuquita fritas appetizer or their currasco con chimichurri entree are accounted for, but Changó Kitchen’s menu expands to other Latin-inspired foods like mofongos, a Puerto Rican dish made up of fried green plantain with proteins like shredded beef, roasted pork, fried cheese, or shrimp.
Salads and a few vegetarian selections are included on the menu at Changó Kitchen, which is still a BYOB affair despite the ownership change. Those who bring their own booze can have mojitos, pina coladas, margaritas, daiquiris or sangria made for them by the pitcher or glass, while non-alcoholic beverages at the restaurant include a Cuban latte or a chichi de pina, which is a frozen fermented pineapple peel drink.
The restaurant’s website is currently under construction, but those interested in learning more about Changó Kitchen can follow them at the newly-created Instagram handle @changokitchen_official.