Paco’s Mexican Bistro brings authentic Tex-Mex to Dongan Hills

by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Alex Barreto

Michael Dellamonica knows construction. The owner of The Cabinet Factory in New Dorp, the kitchen aficionado has been tackling home renovations for decades, but when an opportunity came up several years ago to enter into the restaurant business, the entrepreneur took a chance.

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“There wasn’t a place to find authentic Mexican food in this section of Staten Island, so I decided to provide it,” Dellamonica said. “I knew this was a great location, and knew borough residents would appreciate this type of food.”

Launched in March of 2012, after Dellamonica completely gutted the former deli space and decorated it with a Tex-Mex theme, Paco’s Mexican Bistro has become a must-dine destination for Islanders over the past five years.

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“I had a particular vision of what I wanted it to look like,” Dellamonica said. “I’ve seen a lot of things in my travels across the country…a lot of elements that I wanted to incorporate here. So I designed it and built it myself, adding all of those aspects.”

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With its soft lighting and mosaic-tiled bar, the smallish space at the corner of Alter Avenue is warm and inviting, with enough seating for 60 guests (an additional 15 seats are presented outdoors when the weather cooperates).

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While Dellamonica focused on getting the décor just right, he hired chef David Hernandez to design Paco’s traditional Mexican menu.

“We have classics like baked fajitas, burritos, and tortilla soup,” Dellamonica said, detailing some of the most popular dishes. “Our sweet-and-sour calamari—a sort of fusion dish served with a garlic tomatillo green sauce and garnished with greens—is also one of our best sellers.”

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The menu is also equipped with small plates and appetizers: Coconut shrimp is served alongside specials like Aguacate Relleno Con Pollo—a half avocado filled with sauteed chicken, garlic, and pico de gallo on a bed of lettuce with creamy jalapeno sauce. The Queso Fundido (grilled shrimp, tri-color peppers, and onions, with Monterey jack and cheddar cheese) is served on a hot black iron skillet and with warm flour tortillas, while the Empanada De Tinga—pulled white meat chicken breast, Mexican corn, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, and fresco cheese—is served with a choice of sauce.

“We offer authentic Mexican cuisine that you cannot find anywhere else on the Island,” Dellamonica said.

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Regular specials abound: A Happy Hour menu features $5 margaritas, $2-$3 apps, and a two-for-one menu—featuring items like Chicken Bacon Avocado Quesadillas and Chalupa Tacos—is offered on weeknights. The second day of the week means Taco Tuesday, when guests can buy three tacos for $5. Sangria Saturdays feature a buy-one-get-one sangria special, while Thursday is family night, during which a clan of four gets one free entrée—a family of six gets two free entrees.

Brunch has become big business, Dellamonica explained, offered every Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Menu items like Stuffed French Toast (almond-coated Mexican bread stuffed with strawberry guava cream cheese and topped with dulce de leche sauce) and Churro Waffles (battered and dusted with brown sugar cinnamon and topped with maple syrup and lechera sauce) are some of the top sellers. “We also have breakfast burritos and Sunrise Quesadillas, which are scrambled eggs with melted Mexican cheese in a flour tortilla,” Dellamonica said. “You can add unlimited drinksfor $15 more. I can’t think of another deal like that around.”

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And the drinks are impressive. Frozen dacquiris, mojitos, and margaritas come in a variety of flavors, and the always popular frosty Mexican Bulldog margarita is served with a bobbing, inverted Corona.

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“Between all of our mixed drinks and the great small plates and appetizers, it truly is a summer delight at Paco’s,” Dellamonica concluded. “Our ingredients are fresh, our dishes are unique, and the food is just simple and delicious.”

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Paco’s Mexican Bistro
1642 Hylan Boulevard / pacossi.com / 347.825.2088