Meet Merengue Chef Hector Piña
By Margarita Martinez
When I met Chef Piña, I learned it is the Dominican dishes from his restaurant Merengue that the Red Sox enjoy during home games at Fenway.
******Hector Piña moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1986. Eight years later, in August 1994, he opened his restaurant, Merengue – quite by accident. He had been helping a friend sell a restaurant she owned in Roxbury and when they couldn’t find a buyer, she suggested he purchase it. Piña started out with five tables and a menu of authentic Dominican cuisine. Fast-forward seventeen years and he has thirty tables, an events space and caters home games at Fenway Park.
Merengue has now become the jewel of Dominican cuisine in Boston, serving a clientele of movie stars and famous baseball players. And as a Roxbury institution, Merengue hosts many politicians who want to reach out to this key community. Piña considers this civic engagement as part of the responsibility of running a community restaurant. He has served on the advisory board of events like Jolgorio Navideno, a Latin American gala in Boston that raises funds for Latino-based educational programs, and VOTO Latino, a civic organization that promotes community participation in local politics.
Piña and his wife Nivia’s next project is to open a new Puerto Rican restaurant, Vejigante, in the South End.
*****Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Merengue and Roxbury.
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About Neighborhood KitchensBuilding on a 34-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.
Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 6:30pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44
Margarita grew up in the Bronx and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. From making her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina to her lifelong search for authentic Mexican food in the Northeast, Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for Latin American food. Margarita is also passionate about acting and music. She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU with a BFA in Drama.
On the GoIn each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!
Watch: Full Episodes
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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits
»Boston's South End:
Orinoco and Teranga
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»Cambridge: Muqueca and Oleana
»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer
»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le
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