428 Bloomfield Ave
Cuban Pete’s, Montclair most crowded restaurant, is something of a mixed bag. It clearly is the party restaurant of choice in Jersey’s restaurant capitol. The place you go for atmosphere, the place you show off to friends and get a pitcher of sangria, albeit Shirley Temple-strength. However, the food can be hit or miss and the crowds can simply be annoying.
We checked out Cuban Pete’s on Labor Day weekend hoping that the holiday may have thinned out the crowds but apparently everyone else in town had the same idea. It was a 10 minute wait in the cramped alcove, not bad, but we really had hoped that by now the restaurant would have done more to make waiting for a table more comfortable.
Still, all things considered, 10 minutes isn’t that bad, we got a seat inside and had probably our best meal at the Cuban joint. Now, don’t misconstrue our food comments, we’ve never had a bad meal at Cuban Pete’s, it’s just that we’ve never been floored either. Culinary, Cuban Pete’s has always left us wanting a bit more.
The paella has always been OK. The grilled meat serviceable but nothing special They do make some mean plantains and this coming from a decided non fan of the banana relative but plantains will only get you so far.
Happy to report that for the first time Cuban Pete’s lived up to the hype.
The night did not start off promising. We ordered the goat cheese fritters, one of our favorites, and normally the balls of fried cheese are perfect but this batch just didn’t have the same bling as on others occasions.
It was an inauspicious beginning.
Cuban Pete’s has a nice selection of fish dishes but face it, this is a meat lover’s paradise. I opted for a ground beef and rice dish while C spotted one of her favorite dishes on the menu and ordered the suckling pig.
We were not disappointed. The ground beef was perfectly done and the suckling pig was moist and juicy. We also have to say the service was good for a packed place. When Cuban Pete’s first opened there were obviously some false steps. We won’t even go into the whole is there or isn’t there alcohol in the sangria debate.
But the restaurant has become part of Montclair culture and it looks like the food has improved dramatically. We’d like to see a Web site, perhaps one that took reservations to help cut down on the waiting, but Cuban Pete’s isn’t just a fun night out anymore, it’s also got some good eats going for it as well.