Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Toro Tapas & Tequila, finding a new niche in Patchogue's restaurant market

On the same day a couple of weeks ago, two friends of mine separately texted me that they wanted to try out this new restaurant that was opening in Patchogue.  Apparently news of the impending opening of Toro Tapas & Tequila had hit the news-wire that morning, and from the sound of it, this one seemed like something new and different, and yeah, even a little exciting.

The town of Patchogue has become Long Island's latest and greatest hot spot over the past ten to fifteen years or so and already there are probably as many quality eateries here as anyplace else on the island.  When you live here, though, they all get kind of boring after awhile, so I was excited earlier this evening when my pal Kristen suggested we give Toro a try.

First Impressions

Immediately upon entering Toro Tapas & Tequila, two things were very clear. First of all, the place was beautifully and tastefully decorated, elegant enough to give it an upscale feel.  The restaurant consists of two large rooms, a bar area and a dining room, and both were sparsely populated at 7:00 p.m., prime dining time.  This was unfortunate because this place deserves to be busier than it is, though undoubtedly its location has everything to do with it.

The official address of Toro is Main Street, but the restaurant is actually located on Ryder Avenue, with its side facing Main and just east of the main drag where most of Patchogue's restaurants are located. The area sits within a zone that separates the Main Street and the less populated eastern end of Main Street.  In order to go to Toro Tapas & Tequila, you need to drive there.  It is within walking distance from the municipal parking lots, but it's a long walk, and besides, the restaurant has its own parking.

The Service

The people working at Toro were all very friendly and very attentive...almost too attentive, and maybe that's because there were so few customers in the restaurant to keep them busier while we were there.  I don't mean this in a negative way, because having the waitress or maìtre d coming over to your table to see if everything is alright or to ask if you need anything is normally a good thing. They just came by a little too often.  

In all, however, the folks at Toro were there to make sure that diners were enjoying their food and drink.  Leaving great first impressions is important, of course, and that's what every single person was attempting to do.  During our meal, both the owner, Ariel Bonilla, and the head chef, Alex Bujoreanu, came to the table to introduce themselves and to make sure we were enjoying our experience.  

Ariel, a Salvadoran immigrant who no doubt found his love for food service from working in his family's successful Patchogue bodega for many years, is a genuinely nice guy who's got a real drive to succeed with Toro, and I wish him well.  He and I chatted endlessly about his Salvadoran background, his ideas for the place, and he listened carefully to whatever sort of input Kristen and I had for the food and the place in general.

The Food

As it says right there in the name of the restaurant, the food here is primarily tapas, a variety of appetizer-type foods that evolved into a whole type of cuisine in Spain and have found their way here in the U.S.  Tapas are served in small portions and are meant to be shared.  A typical meal at a tapas restaurant would include several tapas shared by everyone at the table.  

We started our evening off with a pitcher of white sangria, which was refreshing, yet not really strong.  As we waited for our pitcher, our waitress brought over a sample of their gazpacho, served in a tall shot glass.  I'd never tried this cold, tomato-based soup before, and I've never had soup in a shot glass before, but the gazpacho was pretty darned tasty.  For our meal, Kristen and I opted for a starter of a mixed board of meats, cheeses, crostini and olives and then we moved on to some tapas.  As you can see from a portion of the menu above, the tapas served here are varied and even a little exotic...not things you would see on many other menus.    

a shot of gazpacho

meats, cheeses, crostini and olives

Kristen and I started with two tapas at first, and then two more, recommended by both our waitress and Ariel.  The second two were ordered because the portions on the first were, well, small, and not enough to fill up our hungry tummies.  Despite the small portions, the food was pretty amazing.  I especially enjoyed the chorizo and patatas bravas, which are a serving of roasted potatoes cooked with garlic, aioli, salsa brava and paprika.  They are absolutely out of this world!

spinach croquettes and chorizo

patatas bravas...our favorite!

Overall, Toro Tapas & Tequila is a nice place with a comfortable and elegant atmosphere and delicious, gourmet food.  Being a typical tapas eatery, the prices are a little high for the amount of food you get, but if you enjoy trying out an assortment of tempting, unique foods, then this place is definitely worth a try.  Here's to Toro finding its own successful niche of the Patchogue restaurant folly!

Overall Rating (on a scale of 1-5)

Atmosphere  ****1/2

Service          **** 1/2

Food             *****

Price             $$$$

Toro Tapas & Tequila on the web...




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Weezie's "Love Juice": A Tasty Champagne Punch

Last night I hosted a New Year's Eve party and I was looking for a recipe for a nice champagne punch I could serve.  Well, I found one at, but after making a sample batch, I decided to change it up a little for both potency and taking out some of the tartness that it had,  So, here's the recipe for what I came up with as my own, dubbed "Love Juice," if for any other reason than just for fun:



1 (12) oz. can each of frozen orange juice, limeade, and lemonade concentrate

1 (2-liter) bottle of ginger ale

2 bottles of champagne, any brand you like

1/2 cup vodka, any brand you like (for potency!)

1/2 liter of club soda (this dilutes the tartness of the original recipe)

Assorted fruits, sliced (I used orange and strawberry slices)

2 small cups of lemon-flavored Italian Ice (instead of ice cubes)


Add all of the ingredients into any sort of punch bowl or jar in the order listed

Mix together with a spoon until all of the concentrate is dissolved


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nana's Meatballs

Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 103rd birthday.  Nana, as we all called her, was your typical Italian-American grandmother, full of love and generosity and one great cook.  To many in my extended family, nana's dishes remain legendary, from simple and light dishes like whiting with garlic, olive oil and lemon to homemade chicken noodle soup for Thanksgiving to more traditional Italian fare such as...what else?  Pasta!  Her sauce, or 'gravy' as we always called it, was always impeccable, and served up nearly every single Sunday.  Oh, and then there was the lasagna. We always looked forward all year to nana's traditional lasagna on Christmas Day, the one with the tiny meatballs swimming in the cheesy mixture.  Delish!  

Oh, and those meatballs...did I mention them?  Here's something I wrote for Yahoo awhile back...

Traditional Italian Meatball Recipe

Meatballs have always been a staple in my Italian-American family.  I grew up loving my nana’s all-time tastiest meatballs and it’s her recipe that I use when I make my own.   People always love my meatballs, and that's because I learned from the best.  In the years since my nana passed, I've changed up the recipe just a teeny bit, and they're still just as good...

You’re gonna love em’!


1 lb. ground beef
1 eggs
a handful of breadcrumbs
a handful of grated parmesan or Romano cheese
½ small chopped onion
1 slice of any type of bread, pre-soaked in water
a dash of Allspice
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, parsley and garlic powder, to taste


1 - Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly

2 - Form meatballs by hand in any size you wish and either fry them (to me the taste is better!) or place in a baking pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes

That's it!  I often serve this dish with pasta and tomato sauce, of course, but not always.  Try these meatballs and pasta with out of the ordinary sauces like brown gravy or pesto, alla vodka, au jus, teriyaki and soy,  or just plain butter sauce.  The possibilities are literally endless!  They also make a great hors d’ouevre, served as tiny, bite sized meatballs on a fancy toothpick with either a hollandaise or a béarnaise sauce for dipping.  Give them a try at your next cocktail party and wow your guests. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Delicious Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream

Here's a fantastic and easy recipe for making your own homemade Bailey's Irish Cream. It was written by my writing pal Beverly Mucha for her Examiner page...

Homemade cream liqueur!

Everyone can enjoy the sweetness of this creamy liqueur without having to stop in their local liquor store. The recipe is easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Then when the weekend arrives all that is required is sitting back to enjoy the evening ahead. 


1 cup of heavy whipping cream 
1 (14 ounce) can of condensed milk 
1 2/3 cups of your favorite brand of Irish whiskey 
1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules 
2 heaping tablespoons of chocolate syrup 
1 ½ teaspoons of pure vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon of almond extract

For directions and suggestions on this scrumptious recipe, check out the rest right here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chicken Spinach Meatballs

Meatballs have always been a staple in my Italian-American family. I grew up loving my nana's all-time tastiest meatballs and it's her recipe that I use when I make my own. This recipe is a spin on the traditional meatball and makes a great addition to a pasta meal or as an appetizer, as well. Chicken and spinach meatballs are delicious, healthy and versatile and once you try em', you're surely gonna love em'!


1 lb. ground chicken 
2 eggs 
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed 
Handful of breadcrumbs 
Handful of grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 small chopped onion 
1 slice of any type of bread, pre-soaked in water 
A dash of allspice 
A dash of Worcestershire sauce 
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste

Click here for the recipe.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Garlic Cream Sauce

When I first started this blog, I had hoped to not only include my own favorite recipes, but those delectable recipes I've found among some of my writing friends. Beverly Mucha is a friend and fellow writer on, and she's made me hungry so many times with her amazing recipes of all sorts. I hope to link to many of her recipes from here going forward, starting with today. So if this is your kind of thing, check it out...

Garlic Cream Sauce

For those who adore the taste of garlic this cream sauce is a dream come true. A versatile sauce that can be incorporated to flavor many different dishes to give them a new look, taste and texture. Garlic is very healthy and does wonders for your blood, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and reduces platelet clumping too. Garlic comes is so many forms such as fresh cloves, dried, freeze dried, powders, extracts and oils. So if you enjoy the aroma and taste of garlic this cream sauce is the perfect addition to any meal that needs a little more of that nutty goodness.

For the full recipe, click here, and be sure to check out Beverly's Examiner page:

Beverly Mucha, Winona Cooking Examiner

American Greetings Taylor Swift cards

Monday, March 19, 2012

Delicious Homemade Mac n Cheese

Here is an old favorite of mine. Ever since I learned this recipe, or I should say, this method, from Rachel Ray, I've been experimenting with different sorts of cheeses and other fine ingredients in this delectable comfort dish. Never again will I eat the boxed, powdered stuff from the supermarket, as with this recipe I know all of the fresh goodness I put into my mac n cheese...

To make this dish, you'll need the following ingredients:

- 1 lb. boxed pasta (I find that the thicker pastas, like Rotini, Fusili, or Rigatoni work best)

- 2/3 tablespoons butter

- 2/3 tablespoons flour

- 1 cup milk

- Approximately 2 cups of any style cheese

- A dash of nutmeg

- A handful of bread crumbs

- Various spices

- Olive oil

Once you've gotten these, click on the following link to learn the process:

Delicious Homemade Mac n Cheese

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