RUMBA CUBANA, CLIFTON
Huge portions, many entrees in the $9 to $10 range and attentive service bring crowds, including large families, to Rumba Cubana. A meal without liquor can cost less than $20 a person. Be forewarned though that the menu does not list drink prices, which may be higher than the food.
Plain round crackers (Cuban crackers) with a ham, cream cheese and onion dip were placed on the table when seated. The Rumberito, a combination plate with ham croquettes, tamale, beef empanada, corn fritters, stuffed potato and fried pork skin was enough for four people and highly recommended. Equally delicious and different was guacamole studded with pineapple cubes creatively presented with spears of plantain chips.
The Lechon Asado, a comfort food of slow-roasted pork, was marinated in citrus juices, garlic and Cuban spices creating a moist and deeply satisfying dish. It was accompanied by black beans and rice. My favorite, Mofongo Ropa Vieja, had an onion, pepper and tomato-based sauce surrounding mashed green plantain topped with shredded beef.
Not as successful was the guayaba, a guava custard that tasted like a dry, bread pudding and no hint of this tropical fruit. Along with tapas, mofongo, meat, seafood, chicken and pork entrees, other menu items include sandwiches, salads, soups and a children’s menu.
Look for the vintage blue Cadillac parked in front of the restaurant, which is similar to the cars from the 1940s and 1950s that are still driven in Cuba. Inside Cuban-themed pictures adorning the walls, cane chairs and one wall wallpapered “Cuba” all add to the ambiance.
Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 AM. Valet parking available. Locations also in North Bergen, West New York and soon in Rochelle Park. Future plans are for a Jersey City location.
Rumba Cubana, 2 South Pkwy, Clifton. 973-777-2999; rumbacubanarestaurant.com
ROSIE’S SHOUT OUTS
TASHAN, WEST CALDWELL
Tashan Devine is divine! There was not one clunker among the dishes we tried, and all were colorful with layers of exuberant flavors created from Indian spices. Dishes can be ordered mild, medium or hot; medium worked for us. Local foodies have already discovered this new Indian restaurant so dine here early on a weekday and make a reservation.
Some recommended dishes are: Goan shrimp with a curry-coconut milk; chicken madras containing turmeric, coriander and red chili; palak paneer, the best rendition of this dish that we have tasted made with fresh, creamed spinach and cubes of homemade cottage cheese; Tashan ki bhel, a salad containing crispy noodles, scallions and herbs in a lip smackin’ tangy sauce; and our go-to dessert of gajar ka halwa, a traditional Punjabi pudding made from carrots. Twelve bread selections are offered and the chili garlic naan, which left a tingle in our mouths paired beautifully with all of our dishes.
An 18 percent service charge was added to our bill. Open daily at 11:30 for lunch and dinner.
Tashin Devine, 555 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell. ourtashan.com; 973-808-2288. BYO
ASSADO PORTUGUESE STEAKHOUSE, LIVINGSTON
For those who live in the area and do not want to trek to Newark, Assado Portuguese Steakhouse is a viable option. The menu offers appetizers such as shrimp in garlic and Portuguese grilled sausage, as well as soups, salads, paellas, seafood, chicken and steaks and strangely, six Italian style pastas. An appetizer of grilled octopus with olive oil and paprika needed a squirt of lemon to liven it up. We enjoyed the picturesque tender beef a Portuguese, a shell steak topped with a fried egg surrounded by addictive Spanish potatoes. The garlic sauce, which was listed on the menu as complementing the steak, could not be discerned. Also missing in action was the green sauce that was listed as accompanying the swordfish topped with tiny shrimp surrounded by asparagus, clams and two mounds of mashed potatoes (one would have been enough). Tiramisu, passion fruit mousse and flan are made in house.
Open daily from 11:30 AM for lunch and dinner.
Assado Portuguese Steakhouse, 222 N Livingston Avenue, Livingston. 973-422-0501; assadonj.com .BYO
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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