Upham's Corner Online

El Paraiso - Dominican Restaurant in Upham's Corner

Posted: August 9, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

El Paraiso is now open for dining in Upham's Corner. As the owner of Latina Restaurant at 302 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, Rafael Veras is well seasoned in the restaurant business.  He is also good friends with Marinela Ceballo and her son, Gregorio Colon.  Ms. Ceballo has filled many restaurateur roles  - waitress, chef, manager and creative cook.  Gregorio learned his trade just by being Marinela's son.  He remembers when his mom managed a very small restaurant and literally carried out all functions herself - cooking, cashier, serving, stocking.

The partnership - Rafael, Marinela and Gregorio - was made in heaven, or perhaps we should say "paradise" as that is the name  chosen for Sr. Veras' second restaurant:  El Paraiso at 750 Dudley St in Upham's Corner.  According to Gregory, "Creating the restaurant was the idea of both my mother and Rafael."

July 5, 2011 was official opening day for El Paraiso and business has been growing steadily since, mostly by word of mouth.

We visited El Paraiso on July 16 and had the chance to speak with two of the customers, Neso and Antonio.  

Como  estaba la comida aqui? Muy buena, y el ambiente tambien.
Que comiste?  In espanol se llama mondongo.
Y usted?  Cosido - pata de vaca.
Muchas gracias y gusto de conoserle.

Neso and Antonio said they were really enjoying the food and the atmosphere. Both were eating soup, one tripe soup and the other cow soup.

[Please forgive the imperfect Spanish.]

How much renovation was required?

"Not much," said Gregory.  "The restaurant was already in excellent condition.  Very few changes were required to prepare for permits and licensing - mostly just cleaning up the kitchen."  The style of cooking is primarily Dominican, reflecting their country of origin. 

El Paraiso Menu (pdf)

"What is special about Dominican food is the sazon.  It is an attractive flavor, not overly salty and makes everything taste really good.  It's also not spicey.  What makes Marinela's sazon so special is her years of experimenting both in restaurants and at home."  Gregory proudly explained that he was the ever-present critic for his mother's continuing cooking experiments at home. 

"At El Paraiso, everything is made from fresh food - no canned ingredients.  The meets are lamb, pork, beef, goat, chicken, oxtail and different types of fish.  Everyday we try to change what is offered.  Chicken is very popular and so is beef.  Afro-Americans, for example, like chicken a lot.  Their typical meal is white rice with beans and chicken."

Hispanic customers are used to specialty foods like tripe soup, cow soup and sauteed liver.  As an example of the different tastes, Gregorio showed us that while the liver tastes "dry" to Americans, for Dominicans, it is "just right."

Marinela loves to smile and is full of energy.  She likes pleasing her customers and wants to make sure they enjoy the food.  "How I learned to make my sazon is from my country," she said speaking in her native Spanish, "the Dominican Republic."

She added:  "Nosotro tenemos aqui comida differente de Puerto Rico, de Cabo Verde y de Dominicano."  She is senstive to the many ethnic groups in Upham's Corner and wants to make sure she serves food pleasing to all.

Finally, she said:  "Mi travajo es muy fuerte, muy duro pero estamos aqui para servirle."

Translated:  "The work here is very hard.  The work is demanding but we are here to serve."

This author has eaten at the restaurant several times and each time found a different selection, all of which was delicious.  The price of $6.00 for a full plate is a steal.  Consider stopping in and saying hello to Gregory and Marinela.  Don't forget to take home the dinner.

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