When Shanna Pacifico broke the news to us last winter about the planned dissolution of her eatery, Pacifico’s Fine Foods, she appeared to have one foot out of Brooklyn already—sustaining the steady hemorrhaging of gifted chefs, that has continued to plague New York’s dining scene. But with the recent opening of Cozinha Latina in Greenpoint, Pacifico fans have been granted a reprieve. Not that she’s pledging her undying allegiance to the borough just yet, rather, she’s just found a loving foster home for her deeply personal cuisine, by joining forces with neighborhood champions Josh Cohen and Blair Papagni, of Jimmy’s Diner, Saint Vitus, and Anella.
The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous—the husband-and-wife team was already considering launching a Brazil-inspired bar, when a mutual friend introduced them to Pacifico. In keeping with their longstanding history of nurturing talent, they elected to give her total control of the culinary program, by scrapping their plans for basic booze and beer snacks, and allowing her to devise a full fledged, multi-course menu. Which means, for former Fine Foods patrons, it will come as a relief to see favorites like pao de queijo (warm manchego cheese puffs) and hearts of palm and cumin-slicked soft eggs (a brunchtime staple) faithfully resurrected, along with an expanded selection of small bites, share plates, and sides.
While Pacifico’s previous partners at Fine Foods attempted to stifle her Brazilian inspiration, until only a few daily specials remained, the gloves are off at Cozinha Latina—look for piri piri pork chops, picanha steak, green pozole, frango a passarinho (garlicky fried chicken pieces) and bobo de camarao, a traditional Bahian stew with West African roots. Not that Pacifico’s afraid to stray too far from South America; although you’ll not find a burger on the menu, there is a cunning play on okonomiyaki; in Pacifico’s hands it becomes a yucca flour omelet studded with shrimp and bits of pork trotter, and paved with papaya kimchee.
What with current build-out on a lounge, music, and event space for the expansive second floor, there should be plenty to keep Pacifico occupied. Add in the upcoming summer Olympics (oh so conveniently hosted in Brazil), and maybe Brooklyn has a chance of retaining the exceptional chef for just a little while longer.
37 Greenpoint Avenue, Greenpoint