A Little Trip to Cuba at Cubanelle in Nutley

We found the décor to be colorful, the food tasty and service attentive.

Now that travel from the U.S. to Cuba is legal and interest in Cuban cuisine has increased, we decided to try the newly opened Cubanelle in Nutley. We found the décor to be colorful, food tasty and service attentive.

Little knobs of Brazilian cheese bread, similar to a cheese puff, were served with a black bean spread when seated; a delightful change from bread and butter. The starters outshined the entrees. Black bean soup was thick; braised short rib croquettes meaty with a spicy aioli; and spinach and cheese empanadas flaky with a creamy filling and red-pepper dipping sauce. Pernil, usually made from a slow-roasted, marinated pork shoulder that generates slices of juicy meat and crisp skin. However, we were served what looked like a pork shank, not pork shoulder. Accompanied by steamed yucca and garlic mojo, this was an impressive dish but not what we were expecting. Escabeche, a roasted snapper, was fishy. The menu stated that it came with carrot-ginger puree and pickled vegetables however, our plate contained onions and red and green peppers. Sides were sweet fried plantains, white rice and black beans. Six different desserts in glasses were beautifully presented on a wooden board and we opted for chocolate mascarpone cheese with almonds and a flan. Both were worth the calories.

We ordered a bottle of Crios Cabernet Sauvignon ($27) which was the highest priced of the eleven wines listed. The least expensive wine was a Danzante Pinot Grigio for $21. Six sangrias are offered, we usually see two at Spanish/Latin American restaurants; blanca, roja, Havana Banana (coconut, bananas, lychees, and Bacardi coco); Tropical (mango, pineapple, lemons, lemongrass, passion fruit); fresas (Bacardi razz, Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) and Spanish Harlem (Bacardi dark rum, brandy, peaches, mandarin and cinnamon. Mojitos, cocktails and daiquiris are also available.

Open Tuesday through Friday from 5 PM; Friday through Sunday from noon; closed Monday. Reservations not accepted.

Cubanelle Restaurant
522 Franklin Avenue

Desserts offered at Cubanelle
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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