Cuban food with a modern twist
By Chris Fish
INDIALANTIC - In a relaxingly lit restaurant, where the walls are decorated with Cuban-inspired art, Jose Ripoll visits each table, shaking hands with every patron and greeting them with a friendly smile.
"I like to meet people at the restaurant," said Mr. Ripoll, the owner of Cuban Island Restaurant. "You get to see a lot of the same people come back again. I like to say hello."
The six-weeks-old Cuban Island Restaurant, located off AlA in Indialantic, strives to offer guests a taste of Cuban cuisine, with a contemporary atmosphere.
To start things off, the restaurant offers Yuca Frita con mojo, or the Yuca Hervida con mojo.
The Yuca Frita offers fried yucca with mojo, while the hervida version is boiled yucca with mojo. When cooked, the yucca plant resembles the texture of mashed potatoes. Top the yucca off with a side of meat, cooked in mojo sauce and other spices, and it is a divine experience.
Currently, the most popular dish at the restaurant is the Cuban Sandwich, which offers slices of smoked ham and roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickle and mustard on Cuban bread. The sandwich is then grilled.
All of the sandwiches the restaurant offers come with a side of french fries to accompany the dishes.
One of the dishes offered among the many entrées is the delicious Lechon Asado, or roast pork. The pork is cooked to perfection with onions placed on top, and a fried tomato to complement the dish on the side.
All entrees come with the choice of three sides - white or yellow rice, red or black beans and french fries.
For dessert, diners can choose from a wide variety of sweets, including Cuatro Leches, a light sponge cake with four types of milk, dipped in caramel.
Unlike other Cuban restaurants, Mr. Ripoll's experience through the years with Italian restaurants helps him integrate Italian style dishes into his menu.
"I worked in an Italian restaurant for seven years," he said. "I have smoked salmon that I mix into pasta for an Italian plate. I also have Italian wine, even though Cubans usually don't drink wine. We like beer and rum and cokes."
In the future, Mr. Ripoll said he plans to expand the building for a patio and bring in Cuban musicians to play, while diners enjoy their meals.
"I am looking forward to it," he said. "We will have room for dancing."
Cuban Island Restaurant is located at 2910 N Highway AlA in Indialantic. For reservations, call (321) 241-4886.