Next time you’re having a weekend getaway, make sure to check out Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, in Atlantic City, NJ at The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort. Their brand new, “open-fuego” kitchen, with wood-fueled grill and oven, is preparing seared meats and seafood, wood-fired vegetables, and even grilled fruits for innovative hand-crafted cocktails! Guests can experience a unique taste of Old Havana with authentic, flavor-packed dishes to be enjoyed while seated in the dining room, at the bar, or at the grill’s 12-person interactive chef’s counter. Two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot is the inspiration for the new kitchen. His many years of travel to Cuba exposed him to dishes traditionally prepared dishes a la parrilla, or on a wood-burning grill.
“In my travels to Cuba, I’ve tasted the most incredible dishes prepared on simple wood-fired grills, producing incomparable flavors and textures. I am thrilled to unveil a gigantic open-fire grill to Cuba Libre’s Atlantic City location, and to use this elaborate nearly-two ton apparatus to introduce guests to a truly innovative way of cooking classic and contemporary Cuban cuisine,” said Chef Pernot. “This elegant work of industrial art and surrounding chef’s counter will provide a completely new dining experience for our guests, with enhanced tastes and aromas from quickly seared steaks and seafood, wood-grilled seasonal vegetables, and cocktails made with grilled tropical fruits.”
Guests at the 12-person chef’s counter, seated directly in front of the open-fire grill, will have an up-close-and-personal, interactive dining experience with Senior Executive Chef Kevin Couch and his skilled culinary team, with exclusive tastings of dishes as they are prepared, and a look into the traditional Cuban culture and cuisine that inspired the adoption of this elemental manner of cooking. The luckiest of guests may catch Chef Pernot himself, stoking the fires on his new mega-grill and regaling diners with stories of his culinary adventures in Cuba.
Cuba Libre’s special Atlantic City location menus features new wood-fired items prepared on the grill, such as the Paloma Ahumada cocktail featuring grilled jalapeño honey syrup mixed with Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal, St. Elder natural elderflower liqueur, fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice and club soda. Garnished with a slice of grilled grapefruit of course! One of our favorite starters was the Seasonal Fire-Roasted Vegetable for Two. This dish features marinated seasonal vegetables, smoked olive oil, herb goat cheese and grilled rustic bread. We tried grilled beets, onion, red pepper, artichoke, heirloom carrots, baby corn, zucchini, and cauliflower. The simply seasoning really allows the flavors in this dish to shine. Another noteworthy “Apertivo” is the Octopus a la Parrilla, truffle and citrus marinated grilled baby octopus, with smoked potato crema, crispy garbanzo beans and Spanish paprika.
It’s truly an experience to be sitting alongside the chef’s while they cook on the massive stainless steel grill which spans eight feet in length, with two adjustable grates that are manually cranked up and down by steel wheels to cook dishes at the perfect temperature. Fueled naturally by oak and ash woods, and charcoals made from hardwood and coconut, cooking on the grill creates a unique element of enhanced flavor, and because the heat is so intense, it will sear items quickly and char them to perfection, re-creating flavors found in Cuba.
The Guava BBQ Ribs are available in a starter portion or as an entree, these slow-cooked St. Louis cut pork ribs come with a guava BBQ sauce glaze. Topped with pickled pineapple, and sliced pickles they’re sure to satisfy you. We also loved the Peking Chicken this wood-fired Peking-style half chicken has got a thin and crispy skin. Its served with black beans, white rice, and grilled broccolini, with a lemongrass mojo seasoning and side of Chino Cubano BBQ sauce. The Vacio Steak Argentino is an all-natural Black Angus Argentine-grilled bavette steak, served with Moros y Cristianos and tostones, and Argentinean chimichurri. Another stand out is the Ribeye Jibaro, this massive 22 oz. salmuera-rubbed bone-in ribeye steak is juicy and flavorful. Served with a side of boniato gratin, grilled broccolini and Cuba Libre steak sauce. Guests can also add grilled shrimp to any entree.
This Fall, Chef Pernot has added a special nightly tasting menu consisting solely of tapas, entrees and cocktails prepared on the open-fire grill. A monthly Rotisserie Night is also scheduled featuring off-the-menu crave-worthy proteins prepared on the grill’s rotisserie, like whole loins of beef, pork belly stuffed with a pork loin, and a whole small pig.
About Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Cuba Libre’s Atlantic City serves dinner daily from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. Lunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 11:30 a.m. The bar is open until midnight or later on weeknights, and until 3 a.m. or later on weekends.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is a four-city restaurant group with locations in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Orlando and Washington, DC. Cuba Libre opened its first location in Old City, Philadelphia in 2000, giving guests a passport to Cuba’s intriguing flavors and culture. Blending native ingredients and cooking traditions with those of South America, Spain, Africa, Asia and several others, Cuban cuisine is a savory mix that reflects its colorful culture.
About Chef Guillermo Pernot
Guillermo Pernot is the Chef-Partner of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar and a two-time James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic Region; and Best Single Subject Cookbook. As a nationally renowned chef and restaurateur, Pernot joined Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar as the top toque in the Fall of 2006. As Chef-Partner, Pernot is responsible for maintaining the quality, taste and authenticity of Cuba Libre’s cuisine at all locations as the company expands its concept across America and beyond. Pernot is credited for introducing “Nuevo Latino” cuisine to Philadelphia. In addition to his two James Beard Awards, while owner of ¡Pasión!, Pernot earned an impressive list of accolades including awards from Gourmet, Food & Wine and Philadelphia Magazines and Fodor’s. Pernot was also named Esquire’s “Chef of the Year.”