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Bay Ridge isn’t known as a destination for Nuevo Latino cooking, but Samba, which opened in September, may change that.

Ridgite Mark Dabundo (pictured), Samba’s owner and chef whose recent stints include C3 in Greenwich Village and Mazzei on the Upper East Side, says, "One thing I knew, there were enough Italian restaurants in Bay Ridge."

In his new restaurant, Dabundo serves Mexican, South American, Peruvian and Cuban dishes.

"The flavors are familiar but their plating is modern," he says. To begin, try ceviche (fish marinated in citrus juice and served chilled) or an empanada filled with chicken, pork or steak.

For entrees, there’s an Argentinean skirt steak with spinach and spicy chimichurri sauce (parsley, oregano, oil, vinegar and garlic) and Cuban-style roast pork marinated in mojo (orange and lime juices and vinegar) and served with black beans and rice.

For dessert, Dabundo cools down over-spiced palates with "chocolate a la bamba," a warm chocolate cake served with dulce de leche ice cream and a delectable Cuban-style bread pudding flavored with coconut cream and topped with house-made Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

When the weather warms up, the floor-to-ceiling front windows will slide open, the seating will be pushed to the walls, and on Friday and Saturday evenings a DJ will spin disco, jazz and Latin sounds.

Need a drink to get you on the dance floor? The "Sambapolitan" is a heady mix of blood orange and lime juices, with Grey Goose and Cointreau.

Samba (9604 Third Ave. between 96th and 97th streets) accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diner’s Club and Discover. Entrees: $15-$18, $25 for three-course prix fixe dinner served each evening. Samba serves dinner Wednesday-Sunday from 5 pm to 11 pm. Beginning April 20, dinner will be served Tuesday-Sunday. A late-night menu of light snacks is served from 11 pm to 1 am. Samba is closed Mondays. For reservations call (718) 439-0475.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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