Husband-and-wife team Nick Cervera and Lupe Elizalde have opened their third Mole Mexican restaurant, this one in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The pair already operates Mole restaurants in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side and the West Village. These restaurants attract stars such as Lady Gaga and Scarlett Johansson.
Reflecting the warm hospitality of Mexican culture as well as its myriad flavors and culinary techniques, Mole makes a strong first impression. The rhythmic salsa overhead and buzz of patrons swirling prickly pear margaritas at the indoor/outdoor mosaic bar create an infectiously celebratory ambiance.
Indeed, Mexican cooking the way that Elizalde presents it is a somewhat revolutionary experience: It’s what she learned as a young girl in a home of culinary matriarchs in her native Mexico, and something she’s not willing to compromise. For 20 years, she’s brought her family’s craft to New Yorkers, starting well before the city’s palate was ready for it and continuing to impress even as the trend gets hotter.
When it comes to ingredients not easily found in New York, Lupe employs her mother to send specialties directly from her home base in Mexico City. The top import? The mole for which the restaurant is named (the word is loosely connoted as “happy sauce”) is made by Lupe’s mother and shipped directly to the restaurant. The dish is only made for the biggest celebrations in Mexico but served daily here. And just as Lupe apprenticed under her mother and grandmother, she strives to serve as a mentor for the chefs she trains, taking them under her wing for a minimum of three to four years before letting them take the reigns in any of her restaurants’ kitchens.
At Mole Williamsburg, it’s wise to start with the salsa sampler. Homemade tortilla chips are served with five signature dips: salsa verde, salsa chipotle, guajillo, pico de gallo, and a molcajete salsa that’s considered the house specialty.
Other dishes include ceviche de camaron; cochinita pibil, a Yucatan specialty of shredded pork marinated in axiote paste and cooked in banana leaves;and
barbacoa. This latter dish is cuts of lamb braised low and slow over coals, wrapped in cactus leaf and set atop a special cauldron to collect all the drippings. The meat is served with blue corn tortillas, wedges of lime, chipotle salsa, and a small bowl of its own juices.
There are some interesting drinks, too, from the cucumber margarita made with freshly muddled fruit and vegetable puree to the collection of 80 tequilas—blancos, anejos and reposados.