Coppelia's Latin American Restaurant | Chelsea, New York

The shockingly new old eats of Coppelia

We hereby dub the food at the brand-new Coppelia "Añejo Latino."

For decades, the old-guard Dominican restaurants of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx would traffic in home cooking, even as the Nuevo Latino craze hurtled across the boroughs.

Now, consulting chef Julian Medina (of Toloache fame) has started an "old Latino" movement at his new Chelsea luncheonette, which is modeled after the breezy loncherías of Cuba. At Coppelia, the soul of the past and the sheen of the present coexist on a menu filled with iconic, unadulterated dishes from across the Latino diaspora.

From Puerto Rico comes pernil ($16), its slabs of roast pork glistening with mojo, that island's pungent olive oil, lime and garlic sauce. From Cuba, ropa vieja ($16), aka "old clothes," is a profoundly satisfying jumble of shredded skirt steak and peppers in a jalapeño-tapped tomato sauce. And from the Dominican Republic, the robust soup sancocho ($3 a cup) is rich with beef shank, plantains and yuca.

The fryer at Coppelia is a beacon amid the treacherous waters of misguided frying, with tostones (green plantains) and yuca (both $3.75) being led to safe, crisp harbor.

Under the debauched direction of Pichet Ong, desserts bend in uncharted directions; avocado ice cream appears in sundaes ($6.50), and chocolate cake ($6.50) is topped with dulce de leche frosting.

Next month, Coppelia begins 24-hour service. All the better to experience the newborn "Añejo Latino" crusade at any (and every) hour.

Coppelia, 207 W. 14th St. (at Seventh Ave.); 212-858-5001 or