The brainchild of Alfonso
Abreu and wife Sylvia Noguera, EmpaCurious has constructed a broad, global assortment of rotating flavor profiles infused with the world-travelling wisdom of a man and woman who have lived in seven different countries—and loved the food in each. “EmpaCurious is my passion project,” says Abreu, who opened the street food-inspired Gulf Gate establishment this past November, “and I wanted to do something that would allow me to use all of my experience and creativity.” The result is a labor of love, featuring new twists on Latin American staples like empanadas and Cuban black beans, while also incorporating the duo’s interpretation of Indian, Middle Eastern, Argentinian, West Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Creole, Spanish and Cuban cuisines. Each flavor profile is named affectionately after dances, such as La Rumba (Cuban) or The Tarantella (Italian), and honor Abreu and Noguera’s passion for music and dance. If it sounds ambitious, it is. The restaurant’s staples include Brazilian cheese breads and Argentina-style empanadas, which is where the Empa- prefix comes from in the name (and to honor Noguera’s origins in Cordoba, Argentina). The empanadas are stuffed with a rotating combination of meats and flavor profiles, which means on any given week one may order up anything from a chicken soca (West Indian flavor profile) to a lamb banghra (East Indian profile). The Brazilian cheese bread is a gluten-free pastry featuring sweet and savory dough with the ingredients baked into the center, resulting in a delicious contrasting base for the complexly flavored fillings.

The ultimate goal for the restaurant, however, is to provide food to the public in more than just a traditional sit-down café model. Common in Cuban culture, a Caribbean kindred spirit of Abreu’s native Dominican Republic, is comiendo de cantina, the original food delivery service before companies like Blue Apron even became a viable business option. EmpaCurious will be offering a similar subscription service to busy families in South Sarasota, providing customized portions of signature hot dishes either delivered to the front door or available for pick-up. The business crowd will be happy to know that EmpaCurious also offers hot and ready-to-go lunches in the afternoons, allowing for a vastly economized lunch break without sacrificing food quality. For anyone panicking about having to entertain guests at their home or for those who may want a fresh cheese bread for breakfast, EmpaCurious comes to the rescue with freshly made, vacuum-sealed and frozen Brazilian breads and empanadas ready to be browned in the oven. For EmpaCurious, it’s about more than having a successful sit-down restaurant; it’s about infusing food with love and spreading that love by any means necessary. Are you curious?