Alessandra Whitney's blog, Food Life, critiques Montclair restaurants including Cuban Pete's.
The food at Cuban Pete's takes you into the atmosphere of Old Havana. Each bite is well flavored with tradition and a rich marinade. Having eaten in the homes of some of my Latin friends, I would say the menu is comparable when it comes to authenticity and quality. Cuban Pete's offers a wide variety of options, including seafood, meats, vegetables, and delectable desserts. And let's not forget the many flavors of sangria filled with juicy citrus fruits and served iced cold. The restaurant owner got in trouble a couple of years ago for exceeding the alcoholic limit in the sangria but the customers weren't complaining ha ha! The owner of Cuban Pete's was also the previous restaurant owner of Mexicali Rose (which was not nearly as successful.)
The one huge problem most customers have with Cuban Pete's is getting a seat. It's definitely one of the most popular restaurants and everyone wants to go to experience the environment and rich foods. Its almost impossible to get a table on Friday and Saturday nights. Cuban Pete's takes reservations but will not sit you down until EVERYONE in the party is there. Cuban Pete's is VERY crowded and does not allow much space to stand and wait for your table. The waiters walk through quickly with large trays of food as the waiting customers are squeezed into space that does not exist.
The waiting process is obnoxious to say the least and, although the restaurant is large, there needs to be a more practical set up. If the lines aren't too bad I'll usually wait because I know the food is worth it!
The most I've probably waited was about 45 minutes on a Friday night. I ordered the Chulettas Asada's (my personal favorite.) Your wait won't be too long as long as you get there sometime before 8PM. Cuban Pete's does NOT deliver although they should consider it.....Many people are confused by the two large “Cuban Pete's trucks,” all Montclair residents see driving around. I think delivery would benefit them a great deal!
A summary of the best items on the menu:
Sangria (do not miss!)
1) “Asia De Cuba”
2) “Cuban Pete's Sangria”
3) “Habana Banana”
Great Dinner Dishes (do not miss!)
1) Chulettas Asada's (pork chops with caramelized onions served with plantains, rice, and beans)
2) Ropa Vieja (Cuban shredded pork, served with plantains, rice, and beans)
3) Mariscada “Naked Paella” (seafood medley in delicate tomato broth)
4) Churrasco (marinated skirt steak with spicy chimichurri sauce served with plantains, rice, and beans)
5) Boliche (intensely flavored Cuban pot roast pork chop with sausage in the middle for flavoring, served with rice, beans, plantains)
The sweet plantains are to die for! They are made to perfection with candied sweetness and are tender inside. The few times my friends have ordered chicken (I never do) it usually comes out dry. This is the main reason I avoid chicken altogether. My father once ordered the steamed whole blue snapper and his complaint was that it was over done and filled with many bones. Next time I go to Cuban Pete's I'll be ordering the “Bahama Coconut Fish” and my boyfriend will be trying the “Coconut Shrimp Conga.” Only two people who enjoy food as much as we do decide what they are ordering a week and a half in advance ha ha.