A new arepa spot is now open in Brooklyn after getting its start as a moveable feast with family techniques. The Maiz Project, which began as a pop-up operation, now has a brick-and-mortar outpost at Time Out Market New York.
“We cook everything like our grandmothers did in Venezuela,” says chef Richard Ortega via email. That means that, for Ortega and his team, ingredients are of paramount importance.
“Our specialty is arepas,” says the chef and owner, who was raised in the Venezuelan countryside. “We prepare them using techniques that are practically forgotten in Venezuela. We bring corn from different farms in Mexico, using different types of corn depending on the season (red, yellow, blue), we grind and make fresh masa every morning.”
Those arepa varieties at the Dumbo food hall include steak with white cheese and chimichurri, chicken with avocado and muenster, shrimp with avocado and garlic butter and chorizo with Irish cheddar and salsa verde. Tequeños and ceviche are also on the permanent menu, and Ortega has plans for weekend specials featuring preparations with porchetta or vitello tonnato among his Brooklyn ambitions.
“We want to be able to make NYC fall in love with our arepas,” Ortega says, and “show them the true traditional way of how our grandmothers did it before industrialization with the arrival of pre-cooked flour.”