Dominican Republic

A-Rod may've let you down, but that shouldn't turn you off his motherland-especially if you're into street food and beisbol.

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  • El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant

  • El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant

  • El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant

  • The Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano

  • The Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano

  • The Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano

  • Mamajuana Cafe

  • Mamajuana Cafe

  • Mamajuana Cafe

HANG WITH DOMINICANS

*Moises Perez, executive director of community organization Alianza Dominicana, recommends a stroll through Washington Heights and Inwood to really get a feel for the local scene: “Take a walk from the train station at 168th Street up St. Nicholas or Audubon Avenues, all the way to 190th Street; you’ll pass Dominican restaurants, beauty salons, pastry shops, clothing stores, and you get a pretty good sense of Dominican life.” In fact, Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, assistant director of City College’s Dominican Studies Institute, says this area is “the most densely Dominican community in the United States.”

* Once you’re uptown, scope out Mamajuana Caf (247 Dyckman St between Payson and Seaman Aves, 212-304-1217); here you’ll meet Dominicans from “all walks of life,” says State Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s chief of staff for district operations, Lilliam Perez. “You’ll find everyone from baseball players and the lady down the street to young professionals getting together for cocktails.”

* The Dominican Republic cranks out Major League ballplayers like nobody’s business; naturally, baseball is a favorite pastime of expats. Visit El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant (1618 St. Nicholas Ave at 191st St, 212-781-5782) to admire owner Miguel Montas’s memorabilia--lined walls, which include autographed MLB and Dominican league photos and uniforms. Drop by the restaurant on March 7 to witness firsthand the Dominicans’ passion for the old ball game; at 11am, they’ll televise the national team playing the Netherlands in the first round of the World Baseball Classic 2009. Hunker down with a plate of player-inspired grub (the Jose Reyes includes grilled chicken, yucca with onions and a morir soando, a sweet drink made with freshly squeezed orange juice, lime juice and evaporated milk) or try DR native Danny Baez’s staple favorite, the sancocho, “a thick soup or stew that consists of seven types of meats, yucca, plantains, carrots, cilantro and any other vegetable you can imagine.”

SEEK OUT DOMINICAN ARTS

*On Friday 27, join the proud parents of local junior high-schoolers as they perform traditional and modern dances, skits and readings about Dominican and African-American heritage at the Salom Urea de Henrquez Campus (4600 Broadway at 196th St, 212-569-2880; 5--9pm, free).

*Also of special note on the arts front: The Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano (619 W 145th St between Broadway and Riverside Dr, suite 201; 212-234-9577) is exhibiting a collection of folkloric masks and other traditional pieces through Saturday 28.

TALK LIKE A DOMINICAN

*Y qu lo qu? literally means “What is it?,” but is used as a greeting, kinda like “What’s up?” ’Ta to’?, meanwhile, is Dominican shorthand for the Spanish phrase Esta todo bien? or “Is everything all right?”; to use it in response means “Everything’s cool.”

FUN FACTS

* Leonel Fernndez, the current president of the Dominican Republic, lived at 95th Street and Amsterdam Avenue as a kid.

* Santo Domingo--born Juan “Jan” Rodrigues is honored with a plaque in Riverside Park as New York’s first non--Native American inhabitant.

* The Yankees boast seven players of Dominican descent, including A-Rod, who was born here but has dual citizenship.

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