La Ñapa, a Latin American fusion eatery in Crown Heights, opened in late May bringing a variety of made-to-order dishes that have complex flavors. Chef and owner Francisco Anton is from Isla Margarita in Venezuela’s Caribbean coast and uses his South American heritage, his mother’s Italian background, and travels to other countries to inspire him. His menu includes savory fried yucca balls with a tangy and creamy guava cheese. Anton recommends it for new customers who may not be very acquainted with many Latin American flavors. The yucca balls are light but filling; they’re golden and crispy on the outside and fluffy and white on the inside. There’s also an amazing concave arepa that sits on creamed black beans and cradles a perfectly poached egg that has a sprinkle of cotija cheese and paprika, his take on huevos rancheros.
Anton sources most of his spices from Flushing, Queens for their freshness and quality. He explained that the flavors won’t be as sharp if he orders online, so he prefers going out of his way to ensure consistent flavors. All tortillas for the tacos on the menu are handmade and the arepas are all made fresh to order, which gives the outer layer a really nice bite without feeling tough or too chewy like reheated arepas. They’re definitely worth the wait.
The restaurant is on the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Bergen Street, with large open windows that make it feel light and airy with gray tiles, wooden tables for small groups and couples. The location used to be a bodega, and Anton made all of the counters for the bar seating himself. He also repurposed some of the wood and shelves from the previous bodega. His focus is on filling and flavorful dishes, a welcome environment, and arepas so fresh you’ll keep coming back for more.