What Makes a Restaurant?: A History and Sit Down with Casa d’ Paco
I am so happy to announce that Spring has finally arrived for us! With the weather finally improving, I now have some
time to relax, enjoy some wine, and catch up with some friends. My first stop for some quality food? Casa d’Paco
in Newark. I was able to have a sit down with owner Angel Leston before the lunch crowd came in, to talk a little about
the history of this awesome restaurant, and what has kept people coming back for more.
Starting off as a family dream, Casa d’Paco wasn’t always the tapas restaurant we all know and love. Opening about
4 years ago, Casa d’Paco was an idea, that was inspired by Leston’s father who was a chef around town. Leston always
wanted to open up his own eatery complete with a bar.
About 4 years or 5 years ago he got his chance! A friend of Angel’s used to own a little dive bar here in Newark called
Happy Hour Cafe. He approached Leston with an idea since he was going into other business endeavors, and
wanted to give the business to someone he could trust. After a proposed idea, and a good deal set, Leston decided to take on the challenge. Renovations began, a contractor was called, and that’s how Casa d’Paco emerged from just a
dream, to a man and family’s success.
The commute to Casa d’Paco is extremely easy, but keep in mind! Parking in Newark can be difficult in certain areas, and
heed my advice, this restaurant can get busy! Make sure you book your table accordingly…you’ll be glad you did! You can
also take an Uber, but if you are a Newark resident, opt for the walk like I did. It was just a hop and skip, a turn onto
Warwick Street and you’re there…simple right? Now let’s talk ambience:
As I looked around, it wasn’t hard to see the passion that has come in and out of this place. Once you open the door, you’ll
notice a well lit bar, dining area seating, and the smiling faces of the staff working that day. It was awesome to see how
many people come in and out of this place, how much culture it inspires… whether it be through its décor or the food passed
on through many years of tradition from Angel’s family to yours: enriching your overall dining experience. As I continued my
tour, I was able to grab a seat at the bar and noticed some wine with Casa d’Paco’s name hanging on the wall. I became
curious on their significance to the establishment, and Angel explained to me that not only do they bring a taste of home
through their menu, but they create their own house wines as well! Being the wine connoisseur I am, I couldn’t resist trying
the Paco Luca Red before choosing an appetizer to start with. This wine was very robust, complete with a beautiful
bouquet. I recommend pairing it with the Chuleton Casa d’Paco — a broiled shell steak slices sautéed with portobello
mushrooms in a Jerez brandy or Chuletillas De Cordero — the grilled lamb chops over mashed potatoes topped with
mushrooms and brandy gravy…rule of thumb, the more red the meat, the better this wine will pair with it. Looking for
more recommendations? If you decide to pop in, ask your server what Paco Luca wine best fits the tapas special of the
day you are choosing. Looking for a one of a kind gift for the wine lover in your family? Look no further! These wines are
also for sale and come in both Red and White. Keep checking in on their website for more Casa d’Paco wines coming soon.
It’s something you don’t see every day and adds a little extra when grabbing some food and drinks with pals. One thing that hasn’t changed besides the history this beautiful restaurant brings is the sense of community it instills in both its patrons and surrounding neighbors. To keep people coming back, Casa d’Paco believes in, “trying to make something that says a lot about your restaurant, but also says something about your community too.” Leston, along with the rest of the staff, also believe in providing the best service to keep people coming back. I came to know that this philosophy didn’t just pertain to serving drinks, but staying involved in their neighborhood as well. Some ways they do this is by using only local produce and garnishes in
both their menu and cocktails. It’s not hard to see why this restaurant maintains such a good presence in their local Newark community and beyond. On my visit Wednesday, I could say that this is one of the friendliest staffs I have come
across in the local Newark restaurant scene. After taking a look at the menu, I came across the perfect starter: The Aguacate Relleno — A half avocado shell stuffed with snow crabmeat, shrimp and in-house made mayo. For an appetizer, it combined both my love of avocado with perfectly toasted bread, making it not only visually striking but filling and
satisfying to boot.
To pair with this dish, I asked Angel what he recommended in terms of cocktails. Now if you aren’t aware already, Casa
d’Paco recently won best cocktail for Drink Newark’s contest in March with the Paco’s Passion; it combines fresh passion
fruit pulp, all points west bone vodka, Malibu and passion nectar. If you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your bucket list!
Another suggestion is the House Spanish Sangria or…the Ibiza Tea: A Casa d’Paco take on the popular Long Island it
combines vodka, rum, gin, tequila triple sec, simple syrup and Kas LimOn. If you are a lemon fan and looking for something
refreshing, this drink is for you! Pair it with the Paella Casa d’Paco — A saffron rice with lobster, clams, shrimp, tiger
shrimp, squid, mussels, chicken and chorizo. It marries so well with each of the ingredients, making your taste buds
come alive as you partake in every bite this dish has to offer To conclude my evening, I decided to try one last food item
to satisfy my sweet tooth: The Maria Cookie. Now I’m not a BIG dessert fan, but this dish was so delicate, soft, and not overbearingly sweet. It combined soft layers of cookie, whipped cream, and chocolate, and was a perfect ending
to my dining experience at Casa d’Paco.
Upon writing this article, I learned two important lessons from Casa d’Paco: I learned about history and how important
it is for a restaurant to remember where they came from to get where they’re going, and the importance of a restaurant
staying relevant not only to its patrons, but it’s community as well. All of this makes Casa d’Paco’s one of NJ’s most
welcoming and honored establishments, as well as a staple to its surrounding community. Check out Casa d’Paco’s
website to learn more about this restaurant’s rich history, daily tapas and dinner menus, and how to book your next event there. Also be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date on their upcoming ventures. Thanks for the awesome dining experience, Casa d’Paco staff! Cheers and Happy Eating to you all!