Cultures and Cuisines Intersect at Travesias

By Leticia Domenech / Photography By Daniel Kwak | July 05, 2017
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The literal translation for the Spanish word “travesias” is crossing—the idea that two or more persons or things meet and become actors in the process of intersecting, or interchanging. This concept naturally lent itself to becoming the foundation for the menu, as well as the now-famous red and black bicycle motif at a popular Bronx restaurant located in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx.

Dishing out some majorly delicious fare inspired by the colors, cultures and cuisines of five continents, the Travesias restaurant and bar, known and loved by Bronx residents, has become the crossroads for folks to stop in and partake on a journey only a healthy appetite could appreciate. Owner Brian “Fresco” Martinez is a self-proclaimed foodie who has traveled the world on a mission to taste as much as he could fit on a plate—or, many times, whatever made it into the palm of his hand. Not knowing he was conducting research for his own venture into the restaurant space, Brian did recognize that the new and delicious aspects of the cultures he was coming across were as influential and interesting as the ones that made him.

Photo 1: Brian Martinez mashes plantains
Photo 2: A Dominican interpretation of a slider, made with seared ground beef, cabbage slaw, avocado mayo and a crisp tostones bun.

“I tell people that I was made in Dominican Republic and raised in the USA,” Brian tells me. “When my mother came to the States, she was two months pregnant with me. Between the ages of 5 and 14 she would send me to the Dominican Republic on my own every summer, under the supervision of flight attendants.” It was this brave and unconventional routine imparted by his mother that lit the fire within him to travel later in life, from which he would pull as he ate his way through cuisines offered on world-renowned tabletops, at local food trucks, street eats, food stands and everything in between.

“In 2004, upon graduating from LeMoyne College, I gifted myself a month-long trip to Dominican Republic, returning to my roots but this time venturing outside of what I knew by exploring the entire country in a deeper, more enlivening way,” he says. “I think it was at this point in my life that I realized there is so much to see in the world. Every travel experience adds more value to my life and I learn to appreciate what I have and aspire for more. Traveling has really molded me into the person I am today.”

“Amazing! OK, so correct me if I’m wrong,” I ask, “the concept is to take all, or most, of the mouthwatering flavors you’ve experienced on those expeditions, and tie them together somehow for Bronxites and friends to enjoy, right? But what exactly is that critical, beautiful element that ties them together?”

“For the most part our dishes are rooted in Latin flavors,” Brian asserts. “The concept is Latin fusion cuisine. So we have Latin-Asian, Latin-Indian and even Latin-Latin combinations … because no two Latin countries are exactly the same.”

Photo 1: Peruvian-style fried rice called Chaufan made with grilled skirt steak, chicken, maduros, longaniza, peppers and onions topped with sesame seeds and toasted wontons.
Photo 2: Cielo mar y tierra, the triple threat lobster, steak and chicken served with butter sauce and mash yucca

Taking it one step further, when you dine at Travesias you immediately understand that this owner wants patrons to appreciate how beautifully rich and nourishing the world can be, and food is just one of the major ways to experience it. It is about joining Brian on the journeys he has already taken, and reveling in the possibility of enjoying something unfamiliar. The truly gratifying “Travesias moments” for this owner and his team, come when customers try a dish they “never even thought of trying, knew existed or thought would go well together” on a plate.

And if the food is not enough to iterate the globally inspired theme of this Bronx restaurant, the decor will definitely drive the point home. You’ll know you have arrived when you see the black and red bicycle signifying the journey you’re about to take. On the interior walls diners will find clocks with various times from a number of locations from around the world. Even the bathroom denotes the essence of travel, with luggage doubling as a sink pedestal.

And stay tuned. Hinting that the menu may expand, Brian shares that he is venturing to Australia this summer. Could a Latin-Aussie theme be in the works for the end of 2017? I guess we will have to keep an eye out for the possibility of that delicious blend making its way to a Bronx table near you!

Some notable dishes, though there are many, that guests rave about are: Bangkok Calamari, Chimi Sliders and Travesias Chaufan.

Brian is also the brain behind Throggs Neck Restaurant Week, the local summer food phenomenon that offers foodies a three-course fixed-price menu at participating restaurants at rates starting from $15 for lunch to $35 for dinner.

Article from Edible Bronx at http://ediblebronx.ediblecommunities.com/eat/cultures-and-cuisines-intersect-travesias
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