Rumba Cubana, North Bergen
It was fireworks night, so being near Boulevard East with a view of the Hudson, we stumbled on this Cuban place in North Bergen.
Was terrific! Very good Cuban dishes, Lechon Asado, Ropa Viejo, Mofongo, and many other Latin/Cuban specialties. Food was excellent, and the prices are retro-10 years ago. Most entrees under $9, highest price entree was $13.
Dinner for 2 with 2 Margaritas: $42. (+ Tip)
Great local place, friendly service, great food at a real bargain price! Will be back!
7420 Broadway Avenue
North Bergen, NJ 07047
Since this restaurant opened about a year ago, I have probably been there at least twenty times. I have thought seriously of writing a review, but procrastination can step in. Ya know? This evening I had dinner at a Cuban restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, to which I have gone three or four times, but not on a regular basis because of the price. I will not name this restaurant. I will say it has good reviews from the city papers and does a great theater crowd business. After eating at the Rumba Cubana at least once a week for the past month, I don't know what I expected. What I discovered is that the Rumba Cubana puts this much more pricey and highly successful establishment to shame. The chefs of the New York establishment could learn much from those at the Rumba Cubana.
The following is my review of the Rumba Cubana. It is a GREAT restaurant for the quality of the food. Please do NOT tell them how reasonable their prices are. I am trying to get through this Recession/Depression thing and do not need for them to get a swollen head that would inflate their prices. (Suffice it to say that a party of five could eat the same things --- prepared much better --- and get way better service at the Rumba Cubana --- than our party of two got in Manhattan!)
Everything I have ever had at the Rumba Cubana has been wonderful --- a real taste treat experience. (I lived in the Caribbean for 17 years, and I have developed a real appreciation for Cuban and South American cuisine.) All meals at the RC start with complimentary galletas Cubanas con bocadito. The galletas are a form of bread or cracker that is something like a matzo but fluffed up and hollow inside. They are basically bland until you spread the bocadito on them. Bocadito is an awesome spread of ham, cheese and secret stuff. I had never had it before I stumbled on the Rumba Cubana, but now it calls me by name every few days and I can't resist. The soups at this restaurant are amazing. You would have to go there every day of the week in order to try them all. So far, I have been there on the days when they served the Caldo Gallega, (a Galician soup), Sopa de Chicharos (split pea soup), and Sopa de Garbanzos (chick pea soup). I feel I must arrange my life to get there on the other days to find out what I have missed. These soups all were delicious, and I could tell they had been very slow-cooked. The use of seasonings is perfect, subtle and never salty. As is customary in the Caribbean, citrus is often a garnish to be used at the diner's discretion. The Caldo Gallega was something totally new to me. It has white beans, pork and vegetables and secret stuff in it and is other-worldly. (I often date a woman, Beverly, who is what you might want to call a free spirit. She liked her Caldo Gallega so much that she applied several drops to that kissable area under her ears for later on. I make a good split pea soup. My mom made a great split pea soup. The split pea soup at RC is quite different from what comes out of our Irish-American kitchens. And it's good ---no it's very, very good. Okay, I give in. It is as good as ours, but different. I have to face my mother when I get to heaven, so I will NOT say it is better. It is as good -- and different.
Rumba Cubana has three lunch specials for under $6 every day. The Picadillo a la Cuba de Ayer ( a ground beef and bean concoction, but nothing like chili) is tangy, served beautifully on thin plantain curls (all of their presentations are classy and as inviting to the eye as they are to the taste buds) and wonderful. The roasted chicken is very good, but I don't want to have it again until I have tried everything else. I do want to have it again, so I guess I'll have to try everything else. Okay, I'll do it! The Fricasse de Cerdo (Pork Stew) is delicately tasty and full of wonderful vegetables and lots of pork. Nummy! The Ropa Vieja (shredded beef) is a marvel. I don't know how they do it. I just don't want them to stop.
I have tried several of their sandwiches. I learned to really love a good gran cubano and media noche sandwich at a little place on St. Thomas that was owned by Cubans. I hope they never read this, but Rumba Cubana knocks them out of the park. They also put several places in mid-town Manhattan that charge three times RC's prices to shame for quality.
The ambiance at the restaurant is very festive and friendly. People are having a good time all around you. I have often been the only gringo in the place, but never made to feel anything but welcome. It does a good lunch business, and is usually crowded for dinner. I don't know if they take reservations, but it might be worth calling at night. The service staff is friendly, efficient, and excellent --- attentive without being intrusive. My conscience tells me to tip them more than 20% because the prices are so low for what you get and the service is so good. I could not recommend this place highly enough. Try it!
re: Roger Lakins
Yes, I love the place too, Roger!
One thing you said that really hit home was about the "gringo". Yes, often we are the only ones as well, and never have I felt the slightest bit uncomfortable. The waiter always takes the time to explain anything we don't understand in perfect english. Love this place!