SOUTH BRONX — Turns out Bronx residents are hungry for a salad they can identify with.
Multiple eateries in the borough have recently started serving the Bronx Salad — made up of mixed greens, red peppers, red onions, olives, tomatoes, corn, black beans, plantain chips, mango and avocado — and say it has already proven to be a popular item with their customers.
"It's selling because it's a very good salad because of how healthy it seems to be," said Milan Gomez, owner of the small restaurant Delmy at 456 E. 149th St., speaking in Spanish through a translator.
She said Delmy has been selling the dish for about three weeks and plans to keep it on the menu indefinitely.
The Bronx Salad marks a collaboration between the economic development group SoBRO, the Institute for Family Health, a group of restaurant owners called the United Business Cooperative, and Chef King Phojanakong, who helped come up with the recipe.
The dish is meant to increase the amount of healthy food options available in the South Bronx and make this notoriously unhealthy part of the city more strongly associated with living well.
Multiple places serving the salad have put their own twists on it, such as the Fine Fare Supermarket at E. 149th Street, which has added walnuts and cranberries while removing the plantain chips and mango.
The grocery store's deli manager, Nivio Reyes, said the salad has proven to be very popular among his customers and that the store usually goes through about two trays of it per day.
"The flavor, the colors and the ingredients that we're using, that's the point," he said, "and that's the reason why people love it."
Henry Obispo, president of the United Business Cooperative, said he was thrilled with how the rollout of the salad has gone so far and appreciated the tweaks that some restaurants made to the recipe, proving they are committed to making sure the dish is successful.
"They've all taken ownership of it in terms of what works for them," he said.
At Don Pancho's Steakhouse on Bruckner Boulevard, fliers promoting the salad are set up throughout the restaurant, which manager Jorge Crespo said has helped make it a common dish for customers to order.
"They want to try it. They see the elements right there," he said. "They're just interested in it, and they have a choice of getting it plain or with chicken, shrimp, steak."
The salad features a signature dressing that includes Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce, another of Phojanakong's creations made with peppers from community gardens in the borough.
Although Rosa Garcia, owner of the Mott Haven Bar and Grill, said the salad has not been selling particularly well at her restaurant, she attributed this mainly to the fact that many customers still do not know about it. She noted that the ones who do order it haven't been disappointed.
"It's a great salad," she said. "Everyone that tries the salad, it has nothing but great reviews."