The mojito, the classic Cuban cocktail, consists of white rum, lime or lemon juice, a splash of soda water, and is muddled with sugar and fresh mint leaves. At the Havana Café, it is made in seven different flavors.
mo· ji· to
Noun: A cocktail consisting of white rum, lime or lemon juice, sugar, mint, ice, and carbonated or soda water, and at Havana Café expertly made in seven different flavors.
In the Bronx, at Havana Café Restaurant and Lounge, the mojito is the most popular and elaborately made drink. It would make the founders of “La Bodeguita del Medio,” the Cuban restaurant staple where legend has it the drink was first created, very proud.
Drawing inspiration from its surrounding neighborhood, and paired with Cuban cuisine flavors and the upscale tastes of three enterprising Latinos, Havana Café is bringing a new flavor and atmosphere to the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx – to which the neighborhood has responded positively.
Anchored on the corner of East Tremont and LaSalle Avenues, Havana Café stands out from a distance with its all-white façade, Art Deco structure, and the inviting patio where customers can sit for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Inside the restaurant, the space is bright and well-decorated, and yields the comfort of an upscale restaurant without the unnecessary frills. The welcoming bar, flanked by glass shelving that offers the finest tequilas and aged rums, is tended to expertly by Ashlie Fratacci, the smiling bartender who diligently muddled fresh mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice for the lunchtime crowd’s mojitos.
One of Havana Café’s most popular dishes is its pernil, the Cuban style roasted pork, which is seasoned with cilantro mojo before it is slow cooked and served with sweet onions. It can be paired with rice and beans, or a salad.
Ruben Rodriguez, one of three owners, described the concept he and his two partners and friends came up with when they saw an opportunity in the changing neighborhood where they lived and worked.
“We are bringing a new concept to the neighborhood, with about 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry,” said Rodriguez. “We live here and saw the neighborhood experiencing a change, so we wanted to provide a service that wasn’t available before. So far, that strategy is working, and word of mouth has been the best advertising,“ he said.
The dynamic trio, a group of three Puerto Ricans born and raised in the Bronx, had a firm belief that Latino culture and food would be well received.
“We want to let people know that we can provide a great service that includes great food, a beautiful space, good ambience, and attention to detail,” said Rodriguez.
The menu at Havana offers a mix of authentic Cuban flavors that inspired classic dishes – with a spin – as prepared by executive chef Alex Garcia. Garcia is the mastermind behind the savory dishes that have drawn a consistent, and happy, clientele in the past ten months since the Café.
“It was important to design a menu that would offer the best Cuban classics, good portions, and affordable prices,” said Rodriguez. And the proof is in the pudín, as it were, or the food, which is served in heaping portions sure to satisfy and maybe even allow for some to enjoy at lunch the next day. The flavorful pernil, the Cuban style roasted pork, is seasoned with cilantro mojo before it is slow cooked and served with sweet onions. Paired with rice and beans, or a salad if you choose, the pernil is one of Havana Café’s most popular dishes.
Anchored on the corner of East Tremont and LaSalle Avenues, Havana Café stands out from a distance with its all-white façade, Art Deco structure, and canopied awning.
For a light lunch, try the Cuban sandwich, a classic specialty reinvented in the kitchen of Havana Café. The bread, baked in-house, is covered in mojo criollo along with juicy slices of pernil, thin-sliced ham and pickles. The entire piece is then baked in the brick oven where the Swiss cheese melts just enough to moisten the bread. The sandwich is served on a kitchen cutting board and accompanied by mariquitas, or fried plantain chips.
Owner Ruben Rodriguez is convinced that Havana has made a home for itself in Throggs Neck. “[This is] a great restaurant that showcases the best of our culture. From the music, to the food, to the flavors, and the service we can offer,” he says, while preparing for the dinner shift.
And there can be no more delicious way to absorb culture than through flavor.
Havana Café is located at 3151 East Tremont Avenue in The Bronx. The number is 718.518.1800