Update: Dolce Cubano is now known as just Dolce and features just Italian food. We haven’t stopped by yet for the new menu yet, so remember that our review is for when it opened.
As we walked up to Dolce Cubano for a late night dinner, we were struck at how beautiful the restaurant looked. Trees were lit up for Christmas, music was spilling out, and the enthusiasm from people inside couldn’t be contained. We quickly found a seat and got down to business.
The vibe and heart of Dolce Cubano is an Italian heart with a Cuban soul. To be honest, we wondered how Dolce Cubano would work with this kind of fusion when we talked with Nick Racanelli Jr. and Sr. months ago (check out our announcement and the before/after post). Well, after our meal, we definitely understand the meaning. Here’s the breakdown of a 5 drink and 8 course dinner that we created from the extensive menu.
Let’s start with the food:
First of all, you can make your own meal/snack/feast at Dolce Cubano dish by dish if you’d like. There’s antipasto, a raw bar, ceviche, salads, sides, tapas, classic dishes, and sandwiches for lunch, too. There are some great dishes that you might recognize from Zaza Italian Gastrobar, Latino and Cuban classics, and dishes that land right in between Italuban land. We decided to go with dishes that spoke to the Cuban soul of Dolce Cubano. Let’s dig in.
Halibut Ceviche with a citrus marinade, onions, and pineapple. Bright, citrusy, and vibrant. The halibut, itself, is tender and juicy. The crunch from the onion and corn layered on top add a nice contrast in texture. An excellent ceviche. We’ll have to try the shrimp ceviche next. They’ll be changing the fish up depending on what’s in season…thanks for alerting us Leslie.
Empanadas with beef and a Cuban red sauce. The breading was crispy, thin, and didn’t come from a package of frozen junk. On the inside was well seasoned beef with the added kick of cilantro. The Cuban red sauce was like a tomato sauce with the consistency of chunky salsa and an added kick of herbs. It adds a tart, herby, and slighty sweet taste to whatever you dip it in.
Havana Bruschetta with pulled pork, mango chipotle, and manchego atop polenta. First off that pork is so tender and juicy. Ermehgerd. It’s rich, earthy, and just melts away. With that you have bits of mango that add a fresh and bright taste. The cilantro adds that necessary contrast. When you take a break from eating these bite-sized treats, you notice a slow spiciness coming from the chipotle. Our favorite dish of the night.
Tostones Mojo with mojo vinaigrette and Cuban red sauce. As we’re writing this, we realize that we didn’t get the vinaigrette on the plate, so we can’t speak to that. We think they ran out of a lot of stuff that weekend. What we can say, though, is that we decided we’re only fans of sweet plantains, not tostones. Tostones are created by slicing up green (unripe) plantains, frying them, smashing them, then frying them again. It’s not that they were bad, it’s just that we’re not tostones fans.
Croquetes de Jamon. There was a light golden brown breading around the potato and Spanish ham stuffed croquette. Although the breading was thin, it was still crispy. The potato was creamy and was mixed in with cheese. Here and there were nice chunks of smoky Spanish ham. We had these bad boys almost every day in Barcelona and did notice some differences. The ones from Spain were a smooth puree and had a silky texture. Even the ham was pureed into the filling. The jury’s out on these and we probably wouldn’t order again.
Roasted Truffle Sprouts. Enough said. The Brussels sprouts were caramelized nicely and drizzled with a good amount of truffle honey. Adding more texture, richness, and fatiness was crispy crumbled bacon and Marcona almonds. The honey works very well with this dish because it cuts away at the bitterness of the Brussels sprouts. Yum!
And now onto the drinks:
To begin, the bar was popping. Every seat was taken and people stood around, having a great time too. It must have been so hopping because the drinks were absolutely delish! Here’s a breakdown of what we got:
Wild Berry Mojito with Atlantico Rum, muddled mint, berries, lime, and sugar cane. The mint and berries were bright, fresh, and had just the right amount of rum. Kristien confesses this is the best mojito that she’s ever had. Dan agrees.
Spiced Cuba Libre with Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum, coke, and lime. Immediately thought of Big Bang Theory’s Diet Virgin Cuba Libre scene, but got past it when we took a sip. The spiced rum adds a dark, luxurious, rich flavor. Dan’s turn to gush: best Cuba Libre he’s ever had.
Chi Chi Pache with Belvedere, pineapple, coconut, bitters, and cinnamon. It’s like drinking coconut in a glass. You get the creaminess from the coconut, then the flavor, but then the pineapple really pushes through. You get the nice hints of cinnamon too, rounding off this drink. If you love tropical drinks, this is a must.
Blood Orange Margarita with Giro Tequila, pineapple, and a blended spiced rim. We were a bit unsure about ordering this because the last time we had a Blood Orange Margarita was back at bartaco in Stamford and that was a bad drink. Well, we found redemption here. Again, there was a great balance of liquor and sweetness with that fruity and slightly tart taste of the blood orange. We didn’t have a spiced rim, though. Oh well, next time.
Pyrat Passion with Pyrat Rum, peach schnapps, lemon, lime, and grenadine. Sweet, fruity, tropical, yummy. The peach schnapps really comes through and adds that nice warm buzz.
Why you should give Dolce Cubano a try
Whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are you’ll be able to find it here. There are a ton of seafood choices, some great Italian dishes, and some really inventive Latino fare. The bar scene here is great, too, making Dolce Cubano a place that you need to hit up with your friends. It will be even greater when the weather gets nicer and you can party around the outside bar. In the warmer months, though, don’t forget the fireplace and the still awesome views.
As for our experience, we really enjoyed the food and the server was very friendly. We did notice a few problems such as the kitchen running out of items like the corn (we were dying to try that) or things missing from our orders like the spiced rim or the mojo vinaigrette. While these are slight errors, it’s to be expected in the opening weekend. What we can say is that we loved our dock view by the window, enjoyed the food, and loved the drinks. We’ll definitely be back.
Address: 78 Southfield Avenue
Stamford, CT 06902
Phone: (203) 817-0700