In a sea of the green, white, and red of Italian flags that dominate Morris Park sits La Masa, a Colombian restaurant proudly displaying their flags and colors outside their eatery.
For decades, Morris Park was a predominantly Italian ethnic neighborhood but over the past years it has become increasingly mixed with a diverse population that is very representative of the beautiful tapestry of the people that make up our borough.
I’ve been meaning to make my way to La Masa for months since I heard it had opened about 8 months ago and I must say I am annoyed with myself for not having gotten here sooner!
The place specializes in empanadas—as they’re known throughout South America but known as pastelitos in Dominican Republic and pastelillitos in Puerto Rico—which are basically Latin American turnovers usually filled with chicken, beef, or pork.
But La Masa takes it to an even bigger level.
They have over 25 different types of fillings which are made fresh everyday as all the ingredients are including “la masa” which is the “dough” made out of cornmeal.
During my visit to this gem, I ordered 3 different empanadas; eggplant, mixed veggies, and broccoli rabe with sausage along with a side of yucca fries and a fresh pineapple passion fruit smoothie to wash it all down.
Each and every one was delicious with every bite. I decided not to try the traditional ones of chicken or beef since I’ve had so many of those in my lifetime but I’m sure they’re just as amazing.
Besides the food being amazing, the service was impeccable and everyone, whether it’s the many regulars who walked in or newcomers, are treated as friends who just came over for a visit.
Mike, who works in the neighborhood, “for a very long time,” said that he likes La Masa because, “…it’s a different atmosphere, good food, good people, and they’re very adaptive to make changes something and make you something that’s not on the menu.”
“It’s not a problem for them to customize for you, they’re really nice people.” Mike added.
While I was eating at the counter, a customer called in an order and Laura immediately recognized the voice and asked, “Is this Alex?”
Laura mentioned that they like to ask for people’s names not just to make sure the person gets the right order especially of you have certain food allergies of which they are extremely cautious of, but to also get to know their clients.
“I remember the names of our patrons especially what they ordered.” Laura told us.
When Alex, a lifelong resident of Morris Park came in, we also asked him what it is about La Masa that keeps him coming back for more?
Alex said, without any hesitation, “It’s a friendly place with great food and it’s different from the predominantly Italian options you have all over the neighborhood.”
He particularly loves any of the empanadas so far that he’s tried and maduros rellenos de pollo which are sweet plantains stuffed with chicken.
Oh? We didn’t mention that La Masa isn’t just all empanadas? No?
Well they also serve a wide variety of arepas which are a pancake like flatbread made out of cornmeal, and other traditional Colombian treats.
The place is spotless, the food is amazing, and the people are friendly which makes La Masa a winning hit and addition to our borough.
In just 8 months that they’ve been open, they’ve amassed a sort of cult following because of just this and they even have customers asking when are they opening up another location closer to them.
“We’ve had people come up from Brooklyn or who are driving through across The Bronx from out of state and found us on Yelp when looking for Colombian food.” said Laura.
They’re open Mondays-Thursday from 10AM – 9PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 10AM-10PM but it’s not unusual to see them open beyond their set closing times said Laura and Josh.
Originally they opened at 12PM but people were already lining up at the door to get their fix on and folks asked for them to open earlier for breakfast so they complied and now offer a selection of traditional Colombian breakfast dishes. On Sundays they are closed as they have children and do like to have some quality, family time.
So to all our readers near and far, whether you’re a fan of Latin American cuisine or not, give these guys a try and come to this little Colombian oasis in Morris Park and leave a happy camper with a stuffed belly.
Tell us about your experiences!
La Masa is located at 1000 Morris Park Avenue at the corner of Colden Avenue.