How the Mexican-Italian fusion at Chiquita’s Pizzeria became a community staple amid the pandemic
Chiquitas was named after Christa and Adolfo Estrada’s two daughters.
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Christa and Adolfo Estrada met in the restaurant business, so it was an easy idea when both wanted to open their own pizzeria.
“We always wanted to have our own restaurant, we saved our money and started looking for a space,” Christa Estrada, the owner of Chiquita’s Pizzeria said in an interview with AL DÍA News.
The eatery opened in 2019, with hopes of becoming a unique restaurant that combines Mexican and Italian cuisines, and highlighted the restaurant owners’ backgrounds.
“I am from Philly and my husband is from Mexico, so we wanted to make our own recipes,” she said.
Estrada also wanted to display a family-friendly space that represented the couple’s two girls.
“We named our restaurant, [Chiquitas] after own two girls,” she said.
As business began to progress and customers lined up to try their Mexican cheesesteaks and dry rub wings, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sparking outrage and confusion for small businesses across America.
“We were scared,” said Estrada.
Their brand new pizza place that became a local hub for residents was up in the air.
“It was just us, we didn’t know what we were doing because we were so new,” said Estrada. “We just took it day by day and really tried our best.”
Thankfully, the pandemic did not stop their devoted customers from buying their savory meals.
In addition to their fanbase, Estrada believed that it would be a good idea to add more cooks and staff to their team, but became hesitant as more Covid cases were being confirmed.
“We didn’t want to risk the lives of other people, so we kept it very small, but we have been super busy due to that,” she said.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed many restaurants in Philadelphia, Chiquita’s customers ensured that Estrada’s storefront is an essential part of the neighborhood.
“Last Monday we closed just to get a break and customers came the next day and asked ‘where were you guys?’ it was very heartwarming to know that they were thinking about us,” she said.
Estrada and her husband have created a relationship with their customers on a personal level.
“They always know us by name and say, ‘Hey Chiquitas’ to our girls, which is great,” she said.
Besides their famous pizzas, the eatery is also known for its dry rub wings that are made to order to maintain freshness.
One dry rub, in particular, is called the Mexican rub, which is blended with different spices from Adolfo’s home country.
They also offer Chipotle ranch dry rub wings that are deep-fried to perfection.“We sell hundreds of wings a day, it’s really crazy,” she said.
On top of the wings, Chiquitas offers something that you can’t find anywhere else: an Al Pastor stromboli.
The dough is stuffed with marinated pork and pineapple, mozzarella, and Oaxaca cheese, and served with jalepeño sauce on the side.
“That’s a very popular one too,” she said.
Chef Adolfo is also proud of their well-known sweetened Jamaica drink that pairs well with their spicy Mexican dry rubbed wings.
The Jamaica drink is made by infusing hibiscus flowers, is very popular in Mexico and a perfect tangy, summer drink.
Chiquita’s pizza came from humble origins and uncertain beginnings, but with its eclectic menu and loyal customers, the restaurant is here to stay.
Pay a visit to Chiquita’s Pizzeria & Mexican Grill at 746 Snyder Ave.