Raul’s Empanadas Town

Raul Silva grew up in Colombia on his grandmother’s traditional cornmeal-crusted beef and chicken empanadas. When he emigrated to New York City at age 20, he started as a dishwasher in a Bolivian restaurant in Queens and eventually ascended to line cook at two of the jewels in New York’s restaurant crown—Jean-Georges and Daniel.

Deep Pockets: An array of rice and chicken, mixed sausage, and beef empanadas.
Photo by Eric Levin.

After he moved to Morristown in 2003, Silva began to think about opening his own restaurant. The memory of those hot, meat-stuffed pastries of old became his muse. But with all he had learned, his granny’s homespun fillings just wouldn’t suffice.

Omitting the traditional potatoes (“there’s enough carbs in the dough”), he tried out his first creations on his church—mixed sausage and a dessert number, caramel and white cheese (sweet empanadas are popular in Colombia). With an enthusiastic response, he unleashed his creativity. Silva, now 44, opened in December, 2006, with about 70 varieties of savory and sweet empanadas as well as “Raul’s pizzas,” which are built on big squares of white hominy with a tomato cream sauce, three cheeses, and various toppings ($4-$7).

The empanadas are generously filled, subtly spiced, and irresistibly priced from $2 (rice and beans) to $5 (lobster). The default, deep-fried, is not greasy, but you can order them  baked if you call ahead. All come with a choice of three tasty sauces—criollo; hot mango-habanero; and creamy chipotle—and can be eaten in or taken out. Silva’s two best sellers are the Rock (ground beef and cheddar), followed by Raul’s chicken (cooked with white wine, tomatoes, onion, and oregano). I am partial to the mixed sausage (Colombian, Mexican, Italian, Argentine, and Spanish, minced and mixed with lime juice, $2.65) and also to Silva’s crispy-chewy plantain tostones ($2). Barbecued pulled pork with a casava crust is $2.75. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate his broccoli and cheddar or spinach and feta.

Silva’s two most popular breakfast empanadas are bacon, egg, and cheese ($3) and potato and chorizo ($3.25). For dessert, Eve’s Apple is filled with caramelized apples, caramel, and cinammon. Adam’s Apple is the same, with brown sugar instead of cinnamon, plus chopped pecans. A logical addition, when you think about it.

Monday-Thursday, 10 am–10 pm. Friday–Saturday, 10 am–3 am
63 Morris Street, Morristown
(973-285-5555, raulsempanadas.com)

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