One of the bright lights of the Williamsburg dining scene is Miranda, which features Italian- and Mexican-inflected cuisine from owners Sasha and Mauricio Miranda. Sasha, who grew up nearby in Flushing, cooks, while Mauricio, a native of Guerrero, Mexico, serves as sommelier and welcoming host.
That they ended up on this quiet, tree-lined corner of Berry Street cooking their quirky, delicious style of food seems preordained. Sasha’s Irish-American grandfather was born on this street, back when it was dominated by Irish and Italian immigrants. And on Sasha and Mauricio’s first date, they dined in the neighborhood and were intrigued by its potential.
Miranda’s multi-ethnic cuisine evolved from the couple’s childhood taste memories. Mauricio grew up with a mother who made her own chocolate and grew the corn for her masa. Sasha loved her Dominican-born grandmother’s quipes (an adaptation of Lebanese kibbeh, deep-fried bulgur and minced meat rolls) and her embellished Italian pasta sauce with tomatoes, capers, olives and raisins.
Sasha’s interest in cooking started at a young age. As a precocious eight-year-old, Sasha titled her first original recipe “My Virgin Cold Pasta Salad”—just the beginning of a life-long love for all foods Italian and olive oil-related. Later, when she was a freshman at Queens College, Sasha’s aunt and uncle treated her to a birthday lunch at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park. Sasha was enthralled “by all these people my age excited and talking about food,” and says, “I was sold.” She applied soon after and the rest is history.
After graduating from the culinary school in 2000, Sasha, landed a scholarship to attend a six-month program studying the food and culture of Italy. But she loved the CIA so much it was hard to cut ties; she returned there afterward to work as an assistant to a chef-instructor, then helped another faculty mentor open a restaurant in Rhinebeck. A string of Manhattan restaurant jobs followed, honing both her front and back-of-the-house skills.
Sasha and Mauricio met in 2002 while they were both working at Verbena. When her parents came to the restaurant to celebrate her father’s birthday, Mauricio, who barely knew Sasha, impishly asked her, “How are my in-laws?” His joke became reality. The couple became engaged in 2005, but didn’t marry until 2009, two years after launching Miranda. They had a small reception at the restaurant, and, naturally, Sasha did all the cooking.