LYNN – Allow us to introduce you to a Dominican specialty called the pastelito. They’re deliciously deep fried, stuffed with all kinds of creative ingredients, and at Paaastelitos in downtown Lynn, they are a Phan-tastic Meal Deal.

Ashley Marshall and her boyfriend, Welby Pena set up the first takeout spot of its kind in New England, a small storefront specializing in a huge variety of crispy, gooey, tasty turnovers.

“A pastelito is a Dominican version of a calzone, kind of like an empanada,” Ashley explained.

“My grandmother used to always make them. My mom used to always make them. It’s very traditional,” Welby added.

You can always find a carousel of traditional pastelitos spinning on the front counter. Each one is stuffed with classic fillings like ham and cheese or flavorful beef, that’s wrapped up, deep fried, and ready to grab and go.

Back in the kitchen, they’re hand-making pastelitos-to-order in special custom-built presses all day long. So you can get gourmet versions, loaded with fresh shucked lobster or dessert fillings like the S’mores packed with graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow. They’ll put just about anything from candy bars to cookie dough inside. Since each one is made to order, Welby and Ashley are happy to fry up anything you wish.

“You name it, we got it. And if we don’t got it, you bring it. We’ll make it,” Welby vowed.

Each of the 60 pastelitos on the menu is named for a different creator, so you can get the ‘Nana’, stuffed with Ashley’s grandmother’s secret recipe for Italian meatballs. Or you can order up the Alex, named for Ashley’s seafood-loving nephew. It’s a mix of shrimp, squid, mahi mahi and octopus.

Of course, even Ashley and Welby have their own renditions, each stuffed with their favorite foods.

“There’s one named after me,” Ashley said. “It has tomato, basil and mozzarella. It’s like my version of the bruschetta because every time we go out to eat I have to order that for an appetizer. Welby has one named after him. It’s spaghetti and chicken. It’s Spanish style. ”

There’s even a pastelito that was inspired by everybody’s favorite food holiday: the Gobbler.

“It’s like Thanksgiving in a hand-sized meal,” Welby said. “It’s turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and when you bite into it, it’s Thanksgiving every day.”

You can put your chopsticks down the next time you want Chinese food, because the PuPu Platter Pastelito, gives you all the flavors of boneless ribs and duck sauce, right in the palm of your hand.

For something heartier, Pastelitos offers a traditional Dominican Hamburger, seasoned perfectly and topped with onion, pepper, cabbage and carrots. The Cubano is authentic as it gets, piled high with plenty of pork, ham and cheese. But nothing beats the tasty tropical pork sandwich, which can be ordered on a regular roll, or amped up when it’s served on a flattened and fried plantain.

“What we do is we take a whole plantain, fry it, mash it whole, refry it and that is your bread,” explained Welby.

No matter what you order, you gotta try washing it down with one of Paaasetilto’s super-sour limeades.

“I love what I’m doing,” Welby said. “I wake up and can’t wait to get here and open the doors and serve customers, and see the reaction on their face when they taste one of the dessert ones or one of these breakfast ones. It’s like, ‘Where did you come up with this idea?’”

With the entire menu coming in well south of $10, these crispy, creative pastelitos are one Phan-tastic Meal Deal.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.


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