Before Tamy Rofe and Felipe Donnelly opened restaurants, including NYC’s beloved Colonia Verde, they worked at the same advertising firm in Mexico City. They reconnected in New York City years later, and it didn’t take long before they started dating.
In 2010 Rofe and Donnelly got married and began hosting weekly supper clubs in their first shared apartment in Tribeca. It was there they established their future roles, with Donnelly in the back of the house and Rofe in the front. They flourished in those roles, but that wasn’t the only reason that the dinners were epic. “We had some rules,” Rofe explained. “We had to invite different people and cook different recipes every time. We were capturing the magic of NYC — we invited all kinds of people and misfits.”
They started with friends, and then friends of friends, and then, when they began to exhaust their own circles, they began finding potential guests online during the early days of Twitter. “We discovered we’re really good at bringing people together,” Rofe said. They had a talent for finding strangers who would feel more like — and often become — friends and creating spaces where all sorts of different people felt at home.
The dinner series quickly grew in popularity and evolved into their first restaurant: Cómodo in Soho. They now have three Latin American–inspired restaurants: the James Beard award–nominated Colonia Verde in Fort Greene, Disco Tacos in Williamsburg, and Cómodo, which reopened in the Flatiron after closing briefly due to a rent spike, as well as a catering business. (Not to mention two children!) The restaurants share a conviviality; like their owners, the spaces themselves seem to have a knack for creating vibrant communities and making people feel welcome.
Rofe told Vogue: “In Latin America, your parents are always very big about dinner parties. I grew up with all the noise. Cómodo gets noisy, and, it’s weird, when I hear that noise, it’s comforting, it feels good. It reminds me of being about to go to sleep, and my parents, and laughter, and music, and glasses clinking.”
Speaking of clinking glasses: Rofe has been a certified sommelier for over a decade, and she’s been on a mission to make selecting and enjoying wine approachable, fun, and a bit unexpected. At Colonia Verde, she recently launched a wine series to highlight wines made by women. She also curates the restaurant’s popular Sunday Asado series, which hosts winemakers and chefs from all around the world.
On Caviar, she’s excited to launch a “cool ciders and local beer” menu this fall. Piquette from Wild Arc Farm in the Hudson Valley is on her list, a delicious, sparkling, low-alcohol beverage that pairs with almost everything on Colonia Verde’s food menu. There’s also cider from Darek Trowbridge of Old World Winery, a small, family-owned operation in Sonoma County with 100-year-old sustainable, organic vineyards. “It’s really textured and tasty,” Rofe says.
The drinks are a great match with Donnelly’s soul-satisfying food, which pulls inspiration from his childhood travels throughout Spain, South America, and Mexico. A salad of diced tomatillo and cucumber mixed with mint and feta cheese is refreshing and bright. Local steelhead trout is marinated with leche de tigre, a spicy, citrusy Peruvian-style ceviche marinade, and served atop tostadas with habañero mayo.
Don’t sleep on the juicy cast-iron blackened pork chop. It’s marinated in recado negro, a spice paste of charred garlic, toasted chili, and corn tortillas. There’s also a stellar grass-fed burger on a bun made of pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and topped with cilantro pesto and served with shoestring sweet potato fries.
Guests feel as privileged to be at Colonia Verde as they do at Rofe and Donnelly’s intimate gatherings at home. You can taste it in the food and in the lovely drinks they curate, feeling the delicious connection.