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New Jersey Monthly Magazine
Restaurant Review
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Cuban Pete's

Reviewed by Candace Wells   
Posted February 7, 2010

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Cuban Pete’s
428 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair
973-746-1100


Hours: Mon–Thurs, noon–11 pm; Fri and Sat, noon—midnight; Sun, noon–11 pm.

Price: $/$$

Style:
Cuban cuisine with Caribbean-inspired setting. The entrance is lined with palm fronds and coconuts and leads into three dimly lit dining rooms and an outdoor courtyard. Friendly (all-male) servers add to the festive atmosphere, sporting bright yellow Cuban shirts and Panama hats.

Don’t Miss: The chicharon de pollo ($4.95), crispy lollipop chicken in a cilantro mojo (garlic sauce), is a personal favorite. The empanadas ($3.95) come with beef, chicken, or de queso, prepared with Manchego cheese and spinach. Or try the hearty papitas rellenas ($3.95), Cuban stuffed beef-potato dumplings in a bed of salsa. Cuban classics make up one-third of the restaurant’s entrée menu. From this selection, all of which are served with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains, try the vaca frita ($13.95), crispy shredded beef, onions, and lime, or Cuban Pete’s paella ($16.95), featuring snapper fillet, mussels, clams, and squid with saffron sauce. The rest of the entrées are divided as new versus old Cuba. Nuevo cubano dishes, all served with coconut rice and mango-coconut yams, include the savory Bahama coconut fish ($14.95), toasted coconut white fish with tropical mango salsa, or the garden paella ($13.95), a vegetarian version with sautéed vegetables, mushrooms, cheese, and plantains over cilantro rice. For a viejo cubano experience, order the Havana-style suckling pig ($13.95), complete with a sour orange mojo sauce, or the pollo asado ($14.95), a whole chicken, cumin- and oregano-rubbed, with roasted garlic chimichurri. All of these entrées are served with congris (black beans and rice) and yucca. For dessert, go with the incredible empanada chiquita Gloriana ($5), a sweet banana-butterscotch empanada served with heavy whipped cream. Other choices include the flan ($5), prepared two different ways, or the arroz con leche ($5), rice pudding.

Heads Up:
Cuban Pete’s is BYO but offers an assortment of red and white alcohol-free sangrias, such as the limonada española filled with lemons and peaches, or Armando’s passion, with strawberries, oranges, peaches, and coconut. There are also several mojito selections, available in mango, kiwi, watermelon, and other flavors. They can be purchased by the glass ($3.95), small pitcher ($12.95), or regular pitcher ($14.95).

The Scoop: The restaurant draws huge crowds, especially during the weekend. Be prepared to wait, especially if your party is four or more. Parties of six or more require a reservation; however, reservations are not accepted on Saturday nights.

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