These are not your father’s carnitas. Unless your father happens to be Romulo “Momo” Acosta, who learned the recipe from his own father before moving from Mexico to Southern California in the mid-1970s. But it wasn’t until his son Billy began selling the one-of-a-kind carnitas as tacos out of a food truck that the dish became an L.A. culinary legend that the Los Angeles Times recently proclaimed “pork in its most perfect form.”
So why am I telling you about this fabled recipe when we are here, and California is way over there? Because you need travel no further than lower Second Avenue, to week-old Amigo by Nai, to see for yourself what all the commotion is about.
Amigo is itself a descendent. Its parent — Nai Tapas — is a few blocks away, and its owner and executive chef, Ruben Rodriguez, is collaborating with Billy Acosta on the new venture.
The menu features three variations on the carnitas theme — maciza (pork butt with the bone in) buche (pork stomach), and cueritos (pork skin) — as well as a mixto, which combines the three. A special collaboration taco from Acosta and Rodriguez is spotlighted with the signature Amigo, pork belly, citrus gastrique, and red salsa brava.
Four additional taco creations, all by Rodriguez, evince the flavors of his native Spain. Among these are a baby back rib confit with green mojo and radish, oxtail livened with red mojo and shishito, and shrimp in garlic sauce with aïoli and red cabbage.
While the weather remains fair, Amigo by Nai will have 10 standing outdoor tables that can accommodate between 4 to 6 taco lovers.
Amigo by Nai, 29 Second Avenue, 212-933-4487