Tag Archives: Jennifer Osorio

Familiar Faces Open New Restaurant & Cantina

It takes cojones to open a new restaurant in a pandemic.

But the Osorio family has faced adversity before. They persevered for years as owners of Villa del Sol on Elm Street, serving excellent food (and legendary frozen margaritas), even as construction of nearby Bedford Square made access (and ambience) difficult.

Last night they opened the doors to their new venture. Mexica (pronounced “ma-shee-ca”) replaces another Mexican restaurant, Señor Salsa, on Post Road West at South Sylvan. (It was, for years before that, the site of the popular Connolly’s steakhouse.)

The Osorio family, at Mexica.

Mexica Kitchen & Cantina is a tribute to the Osarios’ patriarch, Joe. He started Villa del Sol around 1998.

The menu is similar: traditional Mexican dishes with a twist, plus new items highlighting true Mexican food and culture. Like Villa del Sol, it is colorful, clean and fun. Of course tables are socially spaced, indoors and out. Takeout and curbside service are available.

Mexica restaurant. (Photos/Chip Stephens)

The distance from Elm Street to Post Road West is short. But the Osorios have traveled a long road of building issues, permits — and of course a pandemic — dating back to their previous restaurant.

Now Jennifer, Colleen and their family are back in business. They look forward to seeing old friends, and making new ones. Bienvenido, Mexica!

(Mexica’s phone number is 203-349-5392. Hat tip: Chip Stephens)

Villa Del Sol: Here For Cinco De Mayo, And Way Beyond

It’s hard enough to make it as a restaurant in Westport.

The last thing you need is a 2-year construction project next door.

Unless, added to that, is the unfounded rumor that you’re going to close.

That’s what’s happening to Villa del Sol.

Villa del Sol

The popular, family-oriented Mexican spot now shares Elm Street with dust and construction vehicles. When Bedford Square is completed, it will be a boon to the area — and Villa del Sol will benefit.

But it won’t be easy getting there.

The restaurant opened in 1998. While not as long as a previous place — Werner’s — 17 years is still “forever” in restaurant terms.

Owner Joe Osorio emigrated from Mexico at age 23. His background was in engineering, but in the US he entered the restaurant business. He had his own place in Rockland County for a couple of decades.

Villa del sol logoThere were originally 2 Villa del Sols, but the one in New Haven was closed, due to eminent domain. (A school took its place.)

Westport’s Villa del Sol is quite a place. All the furnishings — tables, chairs, artwork — come direct from Mexico. Joe made many trips south, bringing it all back piece by piece.

Joe’s daughters — Jennifer and Colleen — were always involved in the restaurant. He fought pancreatic cancer for 2 years, and worked until just 3 days before his death, in 2011. The daughters then took over.

Their children all help out now too. Jennifer’s husband, Fili Molina, has been the chef since opening day.

Colleen and Jennifer Osorio. Their father brought all the furnishings from Mexico by hand.

Colleen and Jennifer Osorio. Their father brought all the furnishings from Mexico by hand.

The customers are like family too. “They’ve been coming for years,” Jennifer says. “Before they sit down, their drink is front of them.”

The crowd includes plenty of families. Kids and adults alike love the menu — a combination of classic Mexican dishes, and contemporary Nuevo Latino ones.

“We’ve watched everyone grow up,” Colleen says. “And we’ll keep doing it, for years to come.”

Despite the noise, the debris, and the incorrect rumor that Villa del Sol will close.

See you there soon. Hey, Cinco de Mayo is Tuesday!