Abril Cocina, a Mexican fusion restaurant in Maplewood Village, received a rave, glowing review in The New York Times Thursday. The restaurant, which opened in April, was rated “Excellent” by critic Fran Schumer.
Calling Abril Cocina an “elegant sliver of a restaurant,” Schumer praised the high quality and unique preparations of the “refined” food created by owner/chef Mario Valadez and chef de cuisine Johangel Rosario.
“Abril Cocina soars,” wrote Schumer.
Some highlights: the freshly made corn tortillas whose “sweet and smoky essence” permeates every dish they are in; grilled mushroom cheese tacos, gobernador (shrimp and cheese) taco with guajillo salsa (“like a great Billie Holiday song: dark, intense and hard to forget.”)
Also praised were the pulled pork tacos, chicken wings with chocolate mole, pinto bean tostadas, a “wondrous” shrimp and mango ceviche, and the “standout entree”: hangar steak served with grits. About the brisket tacos, Schumer said, “The care that goes into the production of this simple taco…is also representative of the cooking techniques here.”
Desserts, including housemade Mexican ice creams, are “refined, unorthodox and compelling.”
Schumer said the restaurant’s flaws included sometimes slow service, which Valadez said he was addressing.
In a Village Green profile shortly before the restaurant opened, Rosario said, “We want to give people a more modern take on Mexican food,” that is “playful and impressive at the table,” Valadez noted that the restaurant would make everything fresh and from scratch, and added, “If you love really, really good food, you’re going to love what we do.”
Meanwhile, Valadez is thrilled and overwhelmed by the review. “I am very happy,” he said in an email Thursday night. “I am very proud of the team. We have learned a lot in this few months and still have a lot of things to improve. Now our to-do lists are bigger than before we opened!”
Tuesday to Saturday: 11:30am-2pm
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 5pm-9pm
Friday and Saturday: 5pm-10pm