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Cuban Pete's


jim07044
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Just got back from a "dry run" soft opening of Cuban Pete's on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Friends and family of the owner were invited, as well as the staff of Bangz, an adjacent hair salon which has extended the use of its parking lot to the restaurant's customers.

The restaurant's "cuban resort vacation" design theme includes hand-painted wall murals, tied bamboo stalks as columns, tile floors, wicker chairs and fans, sea shells on the walls, a sangria bar, and a centralized open-air courtyard.

All of the food I sampled was delicious and memorable. The stuffed red peppers was a favorite of the evening. I was not able to stay for dessert, but I'm sure it was equally as good.

Grand opening to the public should be in two weeks. I look forward to returning for more!

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Just got back from a "dry run" soft opening of Cuban Pete's on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Friends and family of the owner were invited, as well as the staff of Bangz, an adjacent hair salon which has extended the use of its parking lot to the restaurant's customers.

What parking lot would that be?

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Great to hear such an encouraging report. Given that the owner is the former owner of Mexicali Rose, a lot of us have been skeptical about the new venture. MR was never a favorite of mine - the place was/is rushed and dirty - and the food lacks all the nuance and yes, excitement, of really fine Mexican fare. But Dominick is an incredibly engaging host - can't wait to check out the new place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tried Cuban Pete's last night (they opened earlier this wk). It was pretty busy at 7:30. We were greeted by "Domingo," the owner, whom I later found out is the Dominick from Mexacali Rose. He was very pleasant and attentive. We decided to have an all-tapas dinner & ordered 6-7 selections. We also tried the Cuban Pete's Sangria, which was very good.

Our tapas selections included Chicken Lollipops (grilled little chicken legs), sliced Chorizo, shrimp in garlic sauce, pequillo rellanos, mini-Cuban sandwiches, calamari, and a pork empanada. The Chicken Lollipops were the best of the bunch. It's not totally a Cuban-focused menu (as you can see by the above items), but the food was pretty good & the service was good, also.

I would go back & try full entrees in the future. Of course, parking is a perennial problem in Montclair - we drove around for at least 20 minutes before finding a spot. Really detracts from the whole dining experience.

www.cookstour.netMy Blog

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They are building a huge parking deck behind Church Street. Anyone know when it should be finished? There is also a big deck behind the Volvo dealer. They hve $5 valet parking in the deck near Epernay and Mexicali Rose. The situation is improving.

We've had those 20 minute rides, also. But Montclair is the top restaurant town in NJ IMHO.

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The grand opening of the new parking deck is slated for November 19. No telling if it might open sooner- it looks very near completion. We're all very excited (and relieved) about it down here!

Joanne

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There’s another winner in Montclair. If you want a casual restaurant with low prices and a fun filled atmosphere then you will enjoy Cuban Pete’s.

We started with a selection of tapas including:crispy chicken lollipops with a cilantro mojo; empanada with manchego cheese and spinach; empanada with manchego cheese, roasted chicken and sundried cranberries; Cuban stuffed beef potato dumpling; and yucca fries. Loved everything but be forewarned that there are three empanadas to each order so be sure to order enough so that each person gets one. They are scrumptious.

Entrees were paella with clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and squid with saffron rice; crispy whole red snapper; grilled chicken breast with citrus mojo; and crisp shredded beef with onions and lime. Entrees came with black beans and rice.

We also had a pitcher of Spanish Harlem sangria made with red wine flavored with nectarine and apricots. We were full and passed on dessert. Cuban Pete's is certainly worth a visit. Bill was $45 a couple with tax and tip.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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So they have a liquor license?

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." ~Winston Churchill

Morels- God's gift to the unworthy human species

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Great to hear such an encouraging report.  Given that the owner is the former owner of Mexicali Rose, a lot of us have been skeptical about the new venture.  MR was never a favorite of mine - the place was/is rushed and dirty - and the food lacks all the nuance and yes, excitement, of really fine Mexican fare.  But Dominick is an incredibly engaging host - can't wait to check out the new place.

Well, Mexicali Rose is even WORSE now. Actually, despite it being non-ambitious, I never thought the old MR was all that bad.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Folks, forget about Mexicali Rose, willya? Carl, the chef at Cuban Pete's, REALLY knows what he's doing. I went there with a big group (12 of us), and we ate very well.

We sampled a bunch of tapas (dates in bacon, goat cheese fritters, chicken empanadas with raisins and corn salsa, spinach and manchego empanadas, chorizo and plantain-stuffed pequillo peppers, to-die-for pork belly, chicken 'lollipops,' and probably a few more that I'm forgetting. If I had to pick my top top TOP choices, they'd be the dates (unreal), the pork belly and the chicken lollipops, which are quickly fried and then topped with chimichurri.

For entrees, we had the oxtail, ropa viejo, whole red snapper (fresh, light and moist), and roast pork. There were moros y christianos (rice with black beans), maduros (sweet fried plantains), black bean soup, and...and... Someone help me out with some reminders and pictures, willya?!? :laugh:

Sangrias flowed, but for my taste, most of them were too sweet. The only one that I really drank was the Berry version, which had a ton of berries in each glass. Service was attentive throughout our visit.

Then there was dessert—terrific flan as well as a tres leches cake that I really enjoyed. Both were light and a nice way to end a meal that may sound heavy but wasn’t. Wonderful Cuban coffee (and in my case, café con leche) capped off a really fun time.

The goal of CP's is to have an authentic Cuban meal/experience. The food was terrific, and, as we told the owner (Domenick), probably a few dollars less per dish than it should be—at least for the entrees. The staff was attentive, knowledgeable about the dishes, and the decor is fabulous (esp the men's room--don't miss it). Domenick, George and Carl are genuinely interested in their customers having a good time as well as a great meal, and with Carl at the helm, there's no issue there. One thing I must emphasize is that even though many of the dishes are fried, everything was really light and flavorful--and as Domenick promised, no heartburn afterwards!

GO. Preferably with a group, so you can try a lot of dishes!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I give up! Someone else will have to post the photos...

Edited by Curlz (log)

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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A group of us got together at Cuban Pete’s to try out some of Chef Carl Ruiz’s menu items and dishes that he plans on putting on the menu. It was a most delicious evening and Chef Carl had us laughing all night. He could be a stand up comic.

There are twelve sangrias on the menu. We tried four.

Cidrita: an apple sangria that was bursting with apple slices. Some of us liked this sangria and some thought it was too sweet.

Limonada Espanola: made with pomegranate and peaches. Ditto on the sweetness. Some loved it, --some thought it was too sweet.

Tony Ortiz’s Favorite: this sangria turned out to be everyone’s favorite. It was made with mixed berries that I kept scooping out of the pitcher and into my mouth.

Mojito made with sugarcane, fresh mint, white wine, lemons and limes. Most of us thought that the mint leaves left a bitter taste.

Tapas

When seated Cuban crackers were placed on the table. We found them to be too dry and recommended that they be replaced with a more interesting/tasty bread.

Lightly fried hazelnut goat cheese fritters topped with a dash of sweet honey vinaigrette: delicious especially if you love goat cheese

Crispy chicken lollipops with cilantro mojo: one of the favorites at the table. You just can’t have just one.

Bite size pieces of pork belly that had cooked for 24 hours: We adored these. They don’t look like much but are very tasty and surprisingly fat free and greaseless.

Manchego cheese and spinach empanadas: scrumptious filling surrounded by flaky dough.

Roasted chicken, manchego cheese and sundried cranberries empanadas: ditto of above.

Piquillo peppers stuffed with sausage and sweet plantains: a must try.

Almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon: Everyone was grabbing these and couldn’t get enough of them. Eric called them palate pleasers.

Entrees

Crispy whole red snapper: the fish had a light crust that Chef Ruiz told us comes from mixing matzo meal with the flour. This was a hit at the table. Lowell was in his glory, as he loves the fish heads and had three of them to nibble on.

Ropa Vieja: a traditional Cuban stew of shredded beef was one of the favorites at the table.

Oxtails: This was a winner and everyone’s favorite dish. It reminded me of the recipe I use for pot roast except there were some bones and it was much better than what I make.

Roasted pulled pork; tasty meat

Cuban black beans; creamy and smooth

Dirty rice: rice is mixed with black bean soup to make a very good side dish

Desserts:

We were stuffed but the flan and dolce de leche cake were inhaled. It was a perfect ending to a unique dinner.

There happened to be quite a few chefs dining at Cuban Pete’s last night and the quote of the night which we heard a myriad of times from Eric was, “I am going to get him for Les Marmitons. “

Curlz--There weren't that many fried dishes. I think only 3.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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Curlz--There weren't that many fried dishes. I think only 3.

Well, if you count fritters, empanadas, the chicken lollipops, and the snapper, it could seem like a lot of fried food--esp for someone like me who doesn't normally eat much fried stuff! I just want to reiterate how fresh and light everything was--that's all. :wink:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Curlz--There weren't that many fried dishes. I think only 3.

Well, if you count fritters, empanadas, the chicken lollipops, and the snapper, it could seem like a lot of fried food--esp for someone like me who doesn't normally eat much fried stuff! I just want to reiterate how fresh and light everything was--that's all. :wink:

And nobody burped!

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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I've posted photos in my album, but can't figure out how to get them uploaded to this thread. If anyone knows how, feel free! And if you know how to look at the album, you can do that too... :blink:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I have not stopped telling people about Cuban Pete's all day! Rosie and Ev have told you all about the food (everything was great and the notes I took say that the dates wrapped in bacon and the pork belly blew me away!)

What was also special about Cuban Pete's was the atmosphere. I have never been to Cuba, but I sure felt like I could have been there last night. Tony Ortiz did a FABULOUS job of transforming the space. It was cozy and upbeat at the same time. This is a place that is great for everyone! My teenage boys would LOVE the food and the look and the waiters with their fedoras. Cool! And I could bring my in-laws who love good food and a lively atmosphere. It was perfect for a big table with 12 of us eating a fun and leisurely meal with the back ground of Latin music, and the Sangria Bar would be perfect for several couple to spend the evening ordering appies, drinking sangria and playing dominos. Plus. I can't wait until the patio is open in the warm weather! Carl and Dominic were the perfect hosts. Good food, good vibes... Wow! I will be back again and again. :raz:

Dana

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I asked about reservations; they took them for a while, but then had so many people who just showed up that they decided to only accept them for large parties. So I guess you'll need to party a bit larger, Tommy! :raz:

Seriously, though, it sounds like Friday and Saturday nights are the biggest problem, so if you go during the week, you should be fine.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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i hear they only take reservations for 6 or more?  bad news for me, as i don't have 5 friends.

If you're buying I'll be your friend. :rolleyes:

rosie, i know you've been told that you're not supposed to be spending any time with me. i'm guessing that's grounds for dismissal!

curlz, i'll let you know what i think of the place. looks good! although i'm worried about overly-sweet sangria. :(

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Just a reminder that you CAN BYO--beer or wine.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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