Luckily for patrons who don’t like to walk much in between restaurant hot spots, Osorio’s restaurant Mamajuana is located next door to MamaSushi. She gave credit to her brother and ex-husband, who started the restaurant with her before Collins said, “You work hard.” Osorio responded, “I was born as a businesswoman. I used to cook when I was ten years old. I used to take all of them and put onions. Garlic, cilantro, and all that, and I used to cook for my brother and my sister. I love to cook.” Mamajuana serves staples like salads, steak, and house specials like pargo relleno and puerquito — on top of pasta and a range of seafood options.
Between all of her restaurants, Osorio has about 30 employees who are also members of her family — making her struggles during the pandemic extra hard. Imagine being responsible for businesses that employ that many family members and having it threatened by something as unpredictable as a pandemic. Luckily, Osorio rallied, but it wasn’t easy. She said, “I thought that everything was falling apart. I get kind of sensitive when I talk about that.” She even had to do deliveries herself, but in the end, both restaurants made it.
After the restaurant sit-downs, Osorio led Collins and Fernandez through a walk of her neighborhood. In response to her knowing the entire neighborhood by name, Collins remarked, “I’m thinking about how incredibly different this is from the community that I grew up in. I was brought up in this small town where the most we would ever do to greet one another was a tight-lipped smile and a wave.”
New Yorkers can certainly relate to that, with the added bonus of glares and avoiding eye contact. Yet Little Dominica is a world in its own inside of New York with a sense of community that many areas in Manhattan are lacking. Collins continued, “And here, everyone is just so ebullient and full of life. It’s so effervescent and so remarkably different, and it seems eye-opening and liberating all at once. I love it.”
After reading about Roadfood, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Inwood.