Table Talk: Favela Cubana

Favela Cubana
543 LaGuardia Place
NY, NY 10012

As Italian-born Marco Britti traveled the world playing the drums in bands with musicians like Marc Anthony, he left his heart in the two countries where he lived for two years: Brazil and Cuba. Can you blame him? With all the rich culture, food, and wonderful people, it's no surprise the time he spent living in each strongly influenced him.  When he returned to NYC, he decided to bring those flavors together in a restaurant in the West Village named Favela Cubana.
This small bistro serves Cuban and Brazilian cuisine side by side--but whatever you do, do not call it a fusion spot. Britti finds a way to showcase the unique flavors of each region by keeping them traditional and definitively separate. When I visited, I sampled the tasting menu ($60) for two people, which offered four courses a piece.

The Ropa Vieja was just like mami's, with an added crisp flavor thanks to peppers and onions. The Picadillo Habana was also tasty, although the texture was a bit too mushy for my preference. Still it's a perfect dish for those who don't eat red meat since it's made with turkey. The Bacalao served with black olives mashed potatoes was excellent. Even though I'm not a big fan of olives, they provided a perfect, salty balance to the starchy potato. The Panna Cotta de Maracuja (passion fruit) was delish—the creaminess of the panna cotta combined with the tang of the passion fruit to great effect.

When you order the tasting menu, you can choose a wine from Favela Cubana's Spanish selection or a yummy specialty cocktail. I went for the second option and highly recommend the Orange Basil, which was super refreshing and light. The Moskito was also very good, and was a cool twist on a mojito made with pear vodka.
Everything on the menu at Favela Cubana can be ordered a la carte, with most entrees ranging in price from $15 to $24. All in all, I would totally recommend checking out the Brazilian and Cuban flavors of Marco Britti's bistro.