New Mexican restaurant in Gill puts longtime family recipes on menu

  • Cielito Lindo is now open on Route 2 in Gill, serving authentic Mexican food. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Neida Berdugo and Mario Portillo are serving up Mexican food at Cielito Lindo on Route 2 in Gill. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Mario Portillo makes a steak burrito at Cielito Lindo in on Route 2 in Gill on Wednesday afternoon. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The menu at Cielito Lindo on Route 2 in Gill mainly features classic Mexican dishes — tacos, empanadas, quesadillas, burritos — distinguished by using all homemade ingredients. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • A steak taco and a chicken taco at Cielito Lindo on Route 2 in Gill. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Cielito Lindo is now open on Route 2 in Gill, serving authentic Mexican food at what was once Ken’s Roadside Diner. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/27/2020 1:39:23 PM

GILL — Cielito Lindo opened this week at the town line of Gill and Turners Falls, offering a menu of homemade Mexican staples and family recipes that have been passed down over generations.

The restaurant is at the corner of Route 2 and the Turners Falls-Gill Bridge, in the food truck that used to be Ken’s Roadside Diner. It has picnic tables for outdoor seating, and Manager Neida Berdugo said she expects to add delivery service within the next few weeks.

The menu mainly features classic Mexican dishes — tacos, empanadas, quesadillas, burritos — distinguished by using all homemade ingredients, Berdugo said. Even the tortilla rolls are made by hand every day, she said.

“I bet a lot of people have tried Mexican food, but not this way,” she said. “We make everything from scratch. That’s the big difference.”

Also on the menu will be rotating daily specials, many of which are recipes that Berdugo’s family members brought with them when they immigrated from Mexico. Berdugo’s immediate family moved from Mexico to Turners Falls when she was 7, but several aunts and uncles had moved at least 20 years before that, she said.

Opening a restaurant had been a dream of her parents’ generation, she said. But for many years they did not have an opportunity or the resources to do it.

“They wanted to do it, but they just didn’t want to take the chance,” she said. “Now that we are making this happen, it’s really exciting. It’s awesome that we are able to do what they’ve always wanted.”

When Ken’s Roadside Diner closed last year, Berdugo’s two uncles, Rogelio and Rubelio Galvez, bought the restaurant, planning to be able to open by this spring. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic, legal permitting and other work was slowed down, delaying the opening by several months, Berdugo said.

Berdugo was asked to manage the restaurant because she knows many of the traditional Mexican recipes, she said. Many of them she learned from her aunt, who is the oldest member of the family to have relocated from Mexico.

“She’s been teaching us the recipes and we are following. So it just keeps going,” Berdugo said. “I love to be in the kitchen. I love to cook my traditional Mexican food.”

The name Cielito Lindo literally means “pretty sky.” But it’s also the name of a famous mariachi song that is a favorite in Berdugo and the Galvezes’ family, she said.

Cielito Lindo is at 24 French King Highway. It is open seven days a week, starting at 10 a.m. Closing time is expected to be 10 p.m., but is still subject to change.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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