Amy's Pastelillos: A taste of Puerto Rico in each filled, fried dough pocket

Amaryllis Rivera-Nassar sells her homemade pastelillos in Fishtown. It's a nod to her Puerto Rican heritage.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- At markets, cafes and coffee shops around Philadelphia, you'll find a very popular pop-up dish that's handmade daily by a self-taught home chef in the city's Fishtown section.

Amaryllis, or Amy, Rivera-Nassar sells one thing: a half-moon-shaped pocket of fried dough stuffed with the flavors of her beloved Puerto Rico.

And she wants you to call them exactly what they are: pastelillos.

"I purposely use the word pastelillo because that's how I know it growing up, and that's how it's traditionally known on the island of Puerto Rico," Nassar says.

She makes and sells them to educate everyone about her culture and community.

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"It's just putting a spotlight on Puerto Rican food in the city," she says. "We have such a large population here. It's huge and sometimes the food goes unnoticed."

Nassar keeps the classics like chicken, beef and pizza.

"Our Puerto Rican customers want that nostalgic feel, they want the flavors of home," she says.

She also gets creative with her fillings.

"I've done a guava BBQ pork, which is very popular. I do crab and coconut," she explains.

Nassar's homegrown, homemade side hustle, Amy's Pastelillos, is a nod to her late mother, Iris.

It's very much a labor of love.

"I stuff every pastelillo by hand, and it's all by eye," she explains.

Nassar is working on some vegan options for Lightbox Cafe, opening soon in Queen Village.

Nassar has been selling her pastelillos since 2018, but business really picked up during the pandemic because at her pop-ups, she sells them cooked or ready to freeze or finish at home.

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