A few weeks ago on a rainy, chilly night I made a trip to Cuba. Well, A Little Bit of Cuba in the Mount Corner Shopping Center in Freehold. Sandra and Jay Lopez, owners and husband-wife team of this treasure of a restaurant, are as bubbly as they come. Jay, a native of Cuba, opened this 75-seat restaurant last March. While he proudly speaks about his dishes, Sandra energizes the restaurant with her smile and stories of how it all began and what their restaurant is all about.
The scrumptious evening began with a pitcher of homemade Sangria from the menu. It was overflowing with oranges, apples, and more. A Little Bit of Cuba is a BYOB, so you’ll have to bring your own “spike” red or white, your choice. After a good sip, we were brought thinly sliced fried plantains, perfectly salted, with a sour cream based dipping sauce that was accented with olives, hot red pepper and garlic. We then moved on to the main course. I chose the “Lechon Asado Tradicional”—roast pork seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices, slowly roasted to perfection, and served with black rice and beans and yucca fries. We also chose the “Ropa Vieja” or ‘old clothes’—a dish of shredded beef brisket slowly cooked, then sautéed with peppers, onions, olives, and peas in a special tomato-and-wine sauce. This was served with a side of white rice and black beans. If this is ‘old clothes,’ there is no need for new ones! The brisket melted warmly in my mouth and the accompaniments were the perfect accessories.
Sandra and Jay stopped frequently at our table to chat about the pictures of Cuba on the walls, the music playing, and their Saturday night “dance nights” when, after dinner, the tables are pushed aside for dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
The flavors of Cuba continued to come alive with the fresh empanada Jay brought us to sample, right out of the oven. Spiced just right, this empanada definitely took first prize (my Cuban Uncle Joe would be proud). But I had to make room because dessert was on the way. I chose the Tres Leches Cake. The cake was soaked perfectly; I could easily detect the distinct flavors of the “three milks” that give this dessert its name.
We could have stayed there all night, sampling this incredible homemade food, walking around the restaurant with Sandra, and even comparing notes on our kids before we left (as moms do). Although our stomachs told us we were done, our smiles told us we would be back for more.
A Little Bit of Cuba
420 Mounts Corner Drive
Freehold Township, NJ 07728
Weekdays for lunch: Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 2 pm
Weekdays for dinner: Monday to Thursday, 2 pm to 9 pm; Friday, 2 pm to 10 pm
Weekends: Saturday, 11:30 am to 10 pm; Sunday, noon to 8 pm
Beverly A. Beveridge is our Monmouth County Regional Editor. Bev resides in Eatontown with her husband, Bob, daughters, Melissa and Brittany, son, Glenn, dog, Bailey and cats, Kitty and Slodki (polish for honey/sweet). She enjoys dining out, piano, tennis, travelling, designing her JERSEY GIRL swimsuits and Calendar, music (especially Rock Concerts) and meeting people. Enjoy her ‘fun’ reviews! Passport to Peru – Home of the Jersey Girls Swimsuit models and ‘Calendar’ Girls! ‘Passport Swimsuits – A Swimsuit to fit ‘every body’. www.passporttoperu.net