Favela Cubana is one of the newest restaurants to open in NYC, we recently attended one of their press diners and were glad we did so.
Marco Britti, the restaurant’s owner is Italian ans has not a drop Cuban or Brazilian blood. What he lacks in genetics he makes up for with passion. Britti has lived in both countries and told us that he fell in love with their peoples and cuisine. He was inspired to bring both cuisines under one roof, and has done so without resorting “fusion”. Favela Cubana’s dishes keep their nation’s identity with just a slight update to make them more modern.
The Chef responsible for the dishes is Oscar Santana, formerly of Soho Steak, Cercle Rouge and Provence. He was sweet and unassuming, and his dishes were quite tasty. Santana served up a tasting of the restaurant’s signature dishes.
But before we get to the food let’s talk cocktails; these were delectable. The orange basil mojito was gorgeous. Most often mojitos are made way too sweet, this mojito was nicely balanced and quite refreshing.
We started off the meal with the Bolinho de Bacalhau and the Corn Empanadas. The bolinho is a traditional Brazilian dish that pretty much translates to Cod fish cakes. This dish is traditionally fried and can often be oily, this was not the case. The bolinhos had a nice texture and good taste, I kept thinking I should be having a beer with them. The corn empanadas were a nice surprise. Most often empanadas are filled with meats, but the corn filling had a gentle sweetness that I enjoyed.
For the second course we had the Ropa Vieja and Bacalhau with olive mashed potatoes. The ropa vieja was accurately made in the Cuban Style (as it is made differently in many countries). The olives added just a hint of umami to make the dish interesting. The olive mashed potatoes were something that I’ll be trying at home soon, what a great surprise for the tongue.
The finishing touch was dessert: Panna Cotta de Maracuja and flan. Anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty picky when it comes to dessert. The panna cotta was quite good. The maracuja (passion fruit) added a great bit of citrus to freshen up the flavors of the cream.
The restaurant is doing some other very smart things. On the night that we dropped by we were delighted to be entertained by the flamenco trio of Barbara Martinez, Pedro Cortes and Jose Moreno. Although the restaurant is on the smaller side, the music performed suited the venue. The Flamenco reinforced what Britti has done; bringing together varied Latin American identities to work harmoniously together without confusing them.
Favela Cubana is located at:
543 La Guardia Place. New York, NY 10012 (212-777-6500)