New restaurant brings Latin flavor to Main Street in Amagansett

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Because its mostly-Mexican menu also incorporates such American favorites as French fries, roasted chicken and a skirt steak, there’s no reason not to eat at D’Canela, Amangansett’s newest arrival on the Main Street restaurant scene, according to owner Luis Aucapina.

Mr. Aucapina said that in creating his restaurant he wanted to give the area a new option, but something that residents were familiar with and could afford.

“If you look around, everywhere you go there is Mexican food,” he said. “It’s the most well-known food in the world. Even in China there is Mexican food and mariachi music.”

D’Canela, with its sleek, modern design in a slate-gray and dark wood color palette, means “made with cinnamon,” which Mr. Aucapina said is typical of tea as it’s prepared in his native city in the mountains of Ecuador, where the ingredient is added to quickly warm and welcome a guest.

“It’s a welcoming gesture to offer canela tea,” he said. “And we want to warm and welcome you here as fast as possible.”

Mr. Aucapina said that since opening at the end of December—“one month and 11 days ago,” as he calculated in an interview last week—he has tried to stay tuned in to the needs of his customers. Still waiting for a liquor license, Mr. Aucapina encouraged diners to call ahead and check on the status of the license application.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, D’Canela and head chef Reuben Bravo, originally from Mexico, offer popular Latin dishes like burritos, $12.25, made with chicken or beef, fried beans, jack cheese, Mexican rice, chili and a red sauce; quesadillas, with chicken for $10.25, or with mango and shrimp for $14.25; and fajitas, $15.25, served to assemble at the table with three soft tortillas and the customer’s choice of chicken, shrimp or beef.

“Or you can mix them,” Mr. Aucapina said about the fajita fillings. “That’s what people like about them.” The dish is also served with sour cream and homemade guacamole.

The corn tortilla chips and soft tortillas are also made on site, as are all of the sauces, some of which take four hours to prepare, said Mr. Bravo, and add flavor to his food and vary the spicy and savory balance of each dish. The desserts, currently flan, a Spanish custard, and cheesecake, are also homemade, he said.

Noting that the sauces are made with four different kinds of chili peppers, Mr. Bravo—who also worked for Mr. Aucapina at his last restaurant, Momentos Bar and Restaurant in Hampton 
Bays, which his brother now owns—
said that the precise flavors in his dishes are the product of his years of experience.

“I’m like aged tequila or wine,” he said with a smile, “I have more flavor.”

He said that he has noticed his customers especially enjoy chile rellenos, $13.20, a chili pepper stuffed with different cheeses, rice and beans; and chalupas, $16.25, a Mexican flatbread served at dinner with skirt steak, beans and sour cream, and for breakfast, for $7.50, with eggs, red or green sauce, cheese and beans.

Other breakfast items, served all day, are eggs any style, including Mexican huevos rancheros, $8.75, and such American-style breakfast items as granola with yogurt or cottage cheese, $8, and pancakes, $7.

For lunch, Mr. Aucapina said he recommends the posole soup, $3.75 for a cup or $5.25 for a bowl, made with chunks of pork and corn. Mr. Bravo said to prepare the soup, he soaks corn kernels in water which enlarges them to the size of a grape and adds a crunchy texture to the soup. He tops it off with red onions, cilantro and avocado.

Another unique menu item, Mr. Aucapina said, is the papaya salad, $6, with pieces of papaya, fresh mint, onions and feta cheese.

He said he buys all fresh ingredients, and local seafood whenever possible, like the flounder, $17.50, served with sautéed apples, red onions; and fried trout, $14.75, served with French fries, lettuce, tomato, onions and cole slaw.

The paella, $20.75, is another popular dish, Mr. Aucapina said, a mix of mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp, chorizo—a Spanish sausage—and chicken. The dish, served in many restaurants for groups of diners, is typically for one person but still enough for two people to share, he said.

There is also a kids’ menu, with items like hot dogs, hamburgers and pasta ranging from $5 to $6.75.

“We tried to have something for everyone,” Mr. Aucapina said.

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