WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Cassie Lipp 01.21.2016 23 days ago
Posted In: Food news at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
img_20160119_140847584_hdr

Slice of Cincinnati: Cuban Pete

It’s a Wednesday, and the line at Cuban Pete Sandwiches on Court Street downtown stretches out the door during lunchtime. Hungry customers don’t mind waiting in line for the only authentic Cuban cuisine in Cincinnati. The staff is prepared, having pre-made 50 traditional Cuban sandwiches at the start of their shift. The restaurant catches the attention of a Cuban man, who cuts all the way to the front of the line and approaches Nelson Fonticiella. “This isn’t real Cuban food!” the man tells Fonticiella. Fonticiella, the restaurant’s owner and general manager, simply tells the surly customer he has no idea. The man admits he has been looking for authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati for years. He hasn’t even been able to find a restaurant that uses Cuban bread for sandwiches. Of course, he doesn’t believe that the man before him with green eyes, red hair and freckles is Cuban —not until he samples the piece of bread Fonticiella gives him. It’s so good that he orders a Cuban sandwich and eats the entire thing while having a conversation with Fonticiella’s father. Just one sandwich isn’t enough for him, so he orders a steak sandwich and scarfs it down in the store before ordering a chicken sandwich to go. “A real Cuban guy sat there and couldn’t resist eating two of our sandwiches,” Fonticiella says later. “That’s about as complimentary as it gets.” He knows for a fact Cuban Pete is the only restaurant in Cincinnati that serves authentic Cuban bread, which he imports from Miami. The bread cooks up nice and crisp when sandwiches are pressed, giving them the perfect filling-to-bread ratio (as opposed to other styles of bread that can make sandwiches too … bready). Each week Fonticiella roasts 100 pounds of pork for his sandwiches and tacos. It’s juicy, tender and flavorful. “This is authentic as it gets. Besides, I’m cooking in an oven instead of burying a pig in the ground,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually I’m going to have to teach someone else how to do it, but I’m having trouble giving up my secret pork recipe.” The recipe comes from a leather-bound book he found in his grandmother’s attic containing all of his great-grandfather’s recipes. Pedro — or Pete, as he was nicknamed — cooked for his hungry baseball teammates in Cuba. Although he did not make it to the U.S. when the family immigrated to Florida, his recipes did. Fonticiella’s grandmother began to teach him how to cook when he was seven years old. Now, his great-grandfather Pete’s recipes account for half of what is served at Cuban Pete, including the chicken and steak. The other half are Fonticiella’s creations. The idea for Cuban Pete began eight years ago when Fonticiella opened a food truck in Lexington, Ky. The business moved to Cincinnati three years ago after Fonticiella frequented the city for concerts and saw the restaurant and music scenes expanding. So far, he has not regretted his decision to move up north. “The thing I love about Cincinnati is that everyone who is from here or lives here is proud as hell to be from Cincinnati,” he says. “Everyone knows the ins and outs and the history of their city.” Although he originally intended to open up more Cuban Pete in other cities such as Indianapolis, Fonticiella has decided to stay put in the Queen City. In fact, he loves it so much that a second location will open by the end of the summer. The new store will be located somewhere in northern Cincinnati, he says. “I want to take the food and culture that has influenced me my entire life and share it with places that don’t really have it,” he says. “Cincinnati is the perfect place to start. Every day, I have people coming up to me telling me it’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had in their life.” It’s not just the unique foods that makes Cuban Pete an experience — it’s also the interaction with the staff and Cuban culture. “Ninety percent of the time when it’s not busy, you are going to see me sitting and talking with the customers,” he says as a couple of regulars step into the restaurant. He greets them by name. While Fonticiella’s father lives in Lexington, he regularly commutes to Cincinnati and hang around Cuban Pete. Fonticiella describes his father as the quintessential loud Cuban; he is always out on the floor talking to customers. Understandably, customers’ favorite part of Cuban Pete is the food. I enjoyed the authentic Cuban sandwich as well as the Chicky Boom-Boom sandwich. Seasoned, marinated chicken is complemented by the perfect combination of sweet jerk sauce and spicy Sriracha, paired with red onions and tomatoes. Enjoy hand-cut fries as a side or fried plantains for a sweeter alternative. They’re sweet and enjoyable enough for dessert. You can also get some of Pete’s amazing pork or chicken on a taco, which comes with pineapple cilantro salsa. There are also breakfast options and different variations of the Cuban to try, such as the creative Cincy Cuban with goetta. The menu will be expanding with healthier options and desserts Feb. 1, with house-made black bean burgers, salads with homemade dressing, and Tres Leches Cake. All menu items are reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of the food. Cuban Pete serves the only authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati, and Fonticiella goes the extra mile when sourcing his ingredients. He can find his pork, drinks and ingredients for marinades locally from Jungle Jim’s, Findlay Market and Restaurant Depot, but the bread and bolo ham come from Florida. For more information on CUBAN PETE: cubanpetesandwiches.com
 
 

Dishcrawl Cincinnati (Profile)

Eating out with Dishcrawl Cincinnati one neighborhood at a time

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Dishcrawl sounds a lot like a speed dating with restaurants. Over a three-hour period, spend just enough time to become acquainted with multiple places and enjoy small courses to get a representation of what they offer.  

Yard House (Review)

Gargantuan beer list, sweeping river views and a thick, familiar menu

1 Comment · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Yard House is a restaurant chain purchased last year by Darden Restaurants, the publicly traded corporation that brought us Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Seasons 52. The chain’s 44th location overlooks the Roebling Bridge, a baseball toss from the homegrown and similarly themed Moerlein Lager House.  

Walt's Hitching Post (Profile)

Beloved Northern Kentucky restaurant reopens with new owners

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Bill Melton loved horses. He loved horses so much that he enshrined his restaurant, Walt’s Hitching Post, with his passion.   

Holtman's Donuts (Profile)

New OTR donut shop to offer classic pastries early and late-night

1 Comment · Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Certain pastries may come and go in popularity (we’re looking at you, cupcake), but the donut will outlast every food trend in the history of the world. No one understands this more than the Loveland, Ohio-based Holtman’s Donuts.  

Pura Vida PopUP Taqueria (Profile)

Jose Navales keeps it simple at Findlay Market's new culturally inspired pop-up taqueria

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
If passion has a flavor, Jose Navales cooks some damn tasty food. Navales has the fervor that comes with being a convert — someone who has seen the light. He used to work for a restaurant supplier...Now, he’s authentic to the bone.   

Main Bite (Review)

Main Bite serves up seasonal dishes and craft cocktails in MainStrasse

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The newly opened Main Bite in MainStrasse creates delicious, seasonal fare with crafty culinary cocktails to go with each bite of your meal.   

Red Roost Tavern at the Hyatt Regency (Review)

Downtown's farm-to-table restaurant Red Roost Tavern serves delightful locavore dishes

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 7, 2013
After a $23 million hotel-wide renovation, the Hyatt Regency introduces their new restaurant, the farm-to-table Red Roost Tavern, which joins top-notch hotel eateries like The Palace, Orchids and Metropole in downtown fine dining. Red Roost’s philosophy is: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.”  

SwampWater Grill (Review)

SwampWater Grill brings authentic flavors from the bayou

2 Comments · Wednesday, August 21, 2013
SwampWater Grill is located inside the same sprawling, shanty-like building that houses Riverside Centre Antique Mall. The restaurant is the brainchild of property owner Chris Ornella and partner Kirk Prest, who hails from Plaquemines Parish, La., just south of New Orleans.   

Matthew Cranert (Profile)

Chef Matthew Cranert infuses his life of travels into menus at M and Cumin

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Matthew Cranert can’t sit still. He’s got a million menus in his head and he wants to write them all down. The new executive chef at Cumin, Cranert also holds the same position at sister restaurant M, both in Hyde Park. Between running two kitchens, he’s found his Zen in balancing the high-end dining at Cumin with M’s rustic eats.  

0|1
 
Close
Close
Close