Restaurant review

Montclair Restaurant Review: Cuban Pete’s

Located 10 minutes from the Montclair State University campus in downtown Montclair, Cuban Pete’s is a popular Cuban and Spanish style restaurant known for its fun, island atmosphere.

True to its reputation, you’ll be warmly greeted by waitresses and waiters and hear peaceful banjo music on the radio. There is a smell of fresh seafood and meat as soon as you sit down.

The facade of Cuban Pete’s and the palm trees surrounding it can be spotted from Bloomfield Ave.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

The atmosphere is inspiring. It makes you feel like you are on an island because of the sound of the waterfall. The restaurant is decorated with Christmas lights inside and has various island plants outside. The surprisingly comfortable chairs appeared to be made of bamboo, adding to the ambience.

If you don’t make a reservation, the waiting time is 35 to 40 minutes for dine-in or take-out. As for the weekend, the restaurant will no doubt be busy, so be sure to reserve a table at least a week in advance.

Upon entering, you are greeted by island trees and fairy lights.  Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

Upon entering, you are greeted by island trees and fairy lights.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

The menu consists of various sandwiches, ensaladas and tapas, which are small savory Spanish dishes. From these choices, customers have the option of trying these Cuban classics in nuevo (new) or viejo (old) style entrees. These entrees include seafood such as shrimp and fish, or can also come with chicken and beef.

Viejo Cubanos entrees include salted black beans, plain rice, and a side of yuca, a Spanish potato-like root vegetable. Nuevo Cubanos starters are served with coconut rice and mashed boniato, which is a baked Cuban sweet potato.

As I perused the menu my eyes were mostly focused on the seafood dishes as I am a fish fanatic. But it was nice to see that they also offered a wide variety of poultry and meat dishes.

The Bahamas Coconut Fish seemed to be the most delicious, especially because you have the option of getting the whole fish or a fillet. The fish is grilled with coconut and includes tropical salsa, both sweet and sour.

The pollo sandwich is known to be mouth-watering and it consists of grilled chicken breast, avocado, vine-ripened tomatoes and cilantro pesto. This sandwich was delicious and I wish they offered it in fast food places.

The crunchy and juicy red snapper was topped with pickled red onions.  Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

The crunchy and juicy red snapper was topped with pickled red onions.
Photo courtesy of Purnasree Saha

After thinking about the menu, I decided to order the Bahamas coconut fish and the whole red snapper. It sounded like a lot, so I decided to share it with my sister. The coconut rice and black beans made a perfect combination, especially once I mixed the black bean sauce with the coconut rice.

That was delicious. The coconut fish and red snapper were crisp but tender. When I took the first bite of the red snapper it was juicy and the skin was greasy from the fryer. The texture of the fish was also moist and soft.

Montclair State students and locals should visit Cuban Pete’s as it offers a variety of Cuban and Spanish style dishes. Even vegetarians can enjoy the restaurant with their vegetarian dishes and desserts.

Starter prices were a little high, but it’s a good place to try something new and share a seafood dish with a friend. All desserts are $5 and you have the option of getting pudding or custard tart.

Cuban Pete’s is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays they are open until midnight.


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