Jay Bastardo and his wife Eridania named their restaurant Villa Verde — which means “Greenville” in Spanish — as a tribute to their hometown in the Dominican Republic AND their adopted hometown of Greenville, NC.
How are the two towns similar?
Villa Verde is located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. It’s not on the coast but, like Greenville, it’s near the coast.
And it’s 66 miles east of the capital city of Santo Domingo — just as Greenville is about that far east of the state capital Raleigh.
The Dominican Republic, like North Carolina, is visited by tourists for the lovely beaches and mountains — although Villa Verde and Greenville are not tourist towns.
Baseball is a popular sport in both towns, as is golf.
And the Dominican Republic and North Carolina were colonized by powerful European countries.
Christopher Columbus “discovered” the island of Hispaniola on his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492 and founded the first permanent European settlement in the New World there on his return the following year.
Meanwhile, eastern North Carolina was home to the first permanent English settlement in North America when The Roanoke Colony was established in 1585.
Tobacco has historically been an important part of the farming areas in both towns. In the La Romana district where Villa Verde is located, they make Romeo y Julieta cigars. Greenville was once the largest tobacco market in North Carolina.
A popular traditional meal in the Villa Verde area is a whole pig roasted on a spit — but in the Greenville area, the whole pig is roasted in a pit over wood. Either way you cook it, it’s pork barbecue!
But it’s most about the similarities of the people.
“The commUNITY feel is just there,” Jay said. “The feel that comes with being a Pirate — I have only felt that with Los Toros, which is the baseball team of my native place. The pride that come from being part of any of those teams, how hungry both places are for success!
“The people of these towns care. We do have bad apples, yes, but even those deeply care.