June 21, 2016
By Glenn Griffith
A professional couple with roots in Venezuela has opened a restaurant in Halfmoon brining a taste of South America to the community’s expanding palate.
Oh Corn! arepas and More, a restaurant at 1505 Route 9, opened its doors quietly in late April to test the culinary market. With the June 1 official ribbon cutting from Chamber President Pete Bardunias, the restaurant declared itself ready to satisfy anyone with a craving for arepas, cachapas, yuca frita, maduros, crepe nutella, flan and much more.
Arepas is a flat, round unleavened patty of corn meal that can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled, or steamed. It holds a prominent position in the cuisine of Venezuela and Columbia and at the restaurant.
And at Oh Corn! everything is gluten-free.
“Why not,” said Clifton Park resident and managing director José Theoktisto when asked why he went gluten-free. “It’s better for you and everyone can enjoy what we serve.”
Theoktisto and his wife Belkis Castro opened the restaurant because they love to go out to eat and found nothing available locally from their native country.
Despite his Greek sounding name and a lineage that goes back to the home of democracy, Theoktisto is a native of Venezuela. He grew up on the food served in his restaurant and and can’t wait to bring it to the residents of southern Saratoga County.
“It’s food that is eaten every day in Venezuela,” he said. “Everyone eats arepas.”
Theoktisto is an engineer with GE. Castro was an attorney in Venezuela before the couple moved to the U.S.. In addition to running the restaurant’s day to day operations she also is a real estate agent and a Spanish teacher. The couple’s young adult children also lend a hand behind the counter from time to time.
“We made sure that all the ingredients come to us gluten-free, even the condiments,” Theoktisto said. “We know there’s not a big Hispanic community here but we wanted to make great food from our homeland and share it with everybody. Everything here is fresh.”
The restaurant is in a small strip mall on the east side of Route 9 in Halfmoon. The space is bright, warmed by the yellow color scheme and the smiles from the staff. There are a few tables in the front near the windows and a counter to the rear where all the food is ordered.
The arepas are cooked, sliced, and filled with different items ordered from the menu. There is carne mechada, seasoned lean, shredded beef, pernil, fresh pork leg oven baked in orange juice and red wine, reina pepiada, chicken breast tossed with avocado, mayonnaise and cilantro, or a domino, a tile of mozzarella painted with black beans and more. There are also vegan and veggie fillings available like avocado, black beans, plantains, or chick peas.
Cachapas is a sweet and spongy yellow corn pancake folded and stuffed with a filling of one’s choice. Fillings can consist of a single, a double, or a triple. Toppings included in each cachapas include tomato, spinach, cucumber, alfalfa, sprouts, onions and peppers. If someone wants a plain cachapas there’s that too.
Dessert choices range from flan, tiramisu, and tres leches, to crepe nutella, and crepe dulce de leche. There are also snacks like yucca frita, fried cassava sticks paired with the house cilantro dip, maduros, deep fried ripe plantains, or tostones, fried slices of fresh green plantain paired with a pink sauce.
“My wife loves people,” Theoktisto said, “and though this is a restaurant and food is at the center of it, it’s really about people. We want people to try some things they may never have tried before. It’s food that is eaten every day in my home country.”
Source: CN Weekly