From a very young age, certain traits are instilled within us that pave the way for whom we will become. Whether it's from family, friends, or just by observing. Al Jallow, owner and chef of Fine Food Cuisine in Morris Park, can attest to this. Growing up in his hometown of Gambia, Al envisioned what his life would be like in the future. His mother, although unaware at the time, would gauge his interest as he watched her prepare dinner many nights. His father then showed him the ways of becoming a businessman. The combination of these two sides of life became important to who Al would grow to be.
His journey began in 1999 as a dishwasher for a small restaurant downtown. Soon after, Al was given the opportunity to become a chef. It was at this moment that Al truly fell in love with the culinary world. He went on to work for a host of various restaurants including Bolo, which was owned by a legendary Iron Chef: Bobby Flay. Fast forward nearly two decades and now Al is the proud owner of his own restaurant in the Bronx, Fine Food Cuisine.
Dondre had suggested Al’s spot to me on numerous occasions, making the claim that they make the best jerk chicken in the Bronx (don't let his Mom find out he said that). On a recent day, we finally headed over together and it's safe to say that this place did not disappoint. They have it all. Pizza to ribs, nachos to chili, and tacos to paella. The menu is sure to fill anyone’s craving.
The place was a little packed when we visited, which did result in a longer wait time. However, that disappointment didn’t last once our food arrived. We started with Voodoo wings as an appetizer, and were reassured the wings had nothing to do with actual voodoo (phew). For my entree, I tried the panko chicken with macaroni and cheese and string beans. Dondre had jerk chicken, mac and cheese, and tostones. Their wings are covered in a “secret sauce,” Al’s very own recipe. It was like no other - sticky, sweet, and just a little kick of spice. It was an explosive combination of flavors that were highly enjoyable.
The panko chicken was cooked to perfection, but the homerun was the mac and cheese. It was so velvety, almost to the point where Webster's dictionary might want to update the definition of velvety and make it Al’s mac and cheese. Dondre thought the jerk chicken wasn’t as spicy as he had from here prior, but it was still flavorful. He also thought the tostones were nice and crispy, while the mac and cheese also hit the spot.
Towards the end of our meal, management did come out and apologize for the wait time and assured us that this never happens.
Our experience at Fine Food Cuisine was very enjoyable. The food was great and management was great. Throughout all the bites was a well crafted playlist that included my favorite song “Brown Eyed Girl.” What stuck with me were the words uttered by Al, “I just want to do good work.” This man is all about giving back. He teaches in his spare time at a mosque and is working on ideas for Fine Food’s one year anniversary. Its safe to say that I’ll be returning for some Voodoo wings really soon.
Fine Food Cuisine is located at 671 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, NY, 10462
Hector's Thoughts - 4 out 5. The service on the day I went was just a little too slow for my liking. Food was great but the wait kind of took away from the experience.