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Sachem Bites Nearby: Island Empanada

One of the best places to get empanadas on Long Island is located right in Lake Ronkonkoma.

In the mood for an empanada, but don't want to drive to Queens to get one?

Island Empanada, which opened up in Lake Ronkonkoma last month, is one of the only place on Long Island that specializes in the Latin American turnover. It has over 20 types of freshly made, Puerto Rican-style empanadas.

Owned by Sachem alum Roy Pelaez, Class of 1978 and captain of the hockey team, Island Empanada is a family-run restaurant that strives to serve a unique variety of empanadas at an affordable price.

"We're hoping to bring a different type of food to Ronkonkoma and other areas nearby," Pelaez said.

Drinks: Fountain drinks ($1.50 for medium, $2.00 for large), as well as refrigerated bottled drinks for $1.65, are available.

Empanadas: Island Empanada offers 20 different types of empanadas including Asian chicken, chipotle beef or chicken, chicken bacon ranch, Latin shrimp, broccoli and cheese and sweet plantain and mozzarella. Pelaez comes up with all the recipes on his own, and none of them cost more than $2.95. All hot sauces are restaurant-made.

Sides: Customers can choose between small or large ($2.75 and $5.50) orders of yellow rice and beans or sweet plantains.

Dessert: A caramel custard called Grandma's Flan, a homemade recipe created by Pelaez's mother. "It's 'flantastic,'" Pelaez said.

Specials: From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, lunch specials include two beef empanadas and medium fountain drink for $4.95 or any two empanadas with a side and medium fountain drink for $6.45. These specials are available at any time for Sachem students.

Value Packs and Boxes: The Family Value Pack consists of eight empanadas, a large side and a 2-liter soda for $21.99. Boxes of 10, 15 or 20 empanadas are also available for $19.99, $29.25 and $36.95.

Catering: Catering is available for parties of 20-500 people.

Service: Employees are ready behind the counter to take customers' orders, which are prepared in less than five minutes. Free delivery is available with a $15 minimum purchase.

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday/Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Address: 601 Portion Rd Suite 13, Lake Ronkonkoma (Waldbaums Shopping Center)

Phone: 631-617-6427

Before opening Island Empanada, Pelaez worked for a major corporation, but was laid-off a year ago. Prior to that, he worked in the restaurant business for many years.

"I had always planned to do this when I retired. It just accelerated," he said.

Pelaez operates Island Empanada with the help of family, friends and a few cooks he hired. He said business has been great since it opened and that he's been getting inquires about partnerships and franchising.

"Things are going good," he said. "We're happy."

Pelaez said he hopes to open a second location in a year. In upcoming weeks, he said some empanadas will be offered baked, and new dessert empanadas will be available.

Out of all the 20 different empanadas he created, Pelaez said his favorite is the chorizo and potato.

"It's unbelieveable!" he said. "People taste it and say, 'Oh my God!'"

For more information, visit Island Empanada's website and Facebook page.

Alyssa Melillo June 28, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Tried the food while I was there...delicious!
Eileen September 28, 2011 at 07:54 PM
The food is terrific... people think the food is seasoning hot.. some of it is, some of it isn't.. the great thing is that it tastes like REAL food.. rice and beans taste just like home made puerto rican rice and beans ... try it... think you will like it...

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