West Village restaurant Cuba has been capturing the spirit of the Caribbean for ten years. Old Havana comes to life in New York City as tropical fruits are blended into drinks, live Cuban music fills the air, Caribbean art lines the walls and the smell of authentic flavors come together in the kitchen. At a table in the hammock-draped Terrace Room, you can watch the resident cigar maker hand-rolling Cuban-style cigars. Step into the speakeasy-like Hemingway Hideaway, or the intimate Family Room, ideal for group dining.
Owner Beatriz de Armas, a native of Cuba, works closely with Chef Mario Garcia - who trained under Chef David Martinez of the world famous Hotel Nacional in Cuba - to encompassing the quality, tradition and essence of Cuban cuisine. For the restaurant's tenth anniversary, the duo have created several new dishes like the chicharron prensado - a braised pork belly with a crisped balsamic glazed skin served with a combo of rice, beans, chorizo and green peas - and the pato con salsa de tamarindo, or tamarind-glazed duck leg confit. There is no doubt that Garcia and de Armas are aiming to elevate Cuban cuisine to gourmet levels. Famous for its simple yet powerful flavors that marry Caribbean flavors with Spanish and African culinary traditions, Cuban food is rooted in tradition and comfort. At Cuba, those flavors are enhanced with contemporary versions of traditional dishes that make it a restaurant that is able to grow with the times. Also new to the seafood section is the salmon, which is pan-seared with a caramelized crust, topped with tender shrimp, with creamy lobster sauce and coconut rice. The Ropa Vieja, shredded skirt steak braised in salsa criolla, peppers, onions and tomatoes, is a classic favorite, but the Vaca Frita, pan-fried skirt steak with garlic mojo, soy sauce, onions, parsley and lime, is a house specialty, a traditional Cuban dish rarely seen on menus in NYC. For Beatriz’s homage to Spain, paellas include Paella Vallenciana, prepared with saffron rice, baby back ribs, monkfish, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, peppers, string beans and peas, as well as seafood and vegetarian versions.
The new menu items complement the cocktails created by veteran head bartender Eduardo Tavares. If you order a mojito, he will muddle the lime, mint and sugar for the 45 seconds required for a proper drink. Special edition anniversary frozen mojitos are made wit fresh purees and infusions he creates in house.
Like fine Cuban rum, this restaurant only gets better with age. More importantly, they know how to celebrate a birthday.
222 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012