Monroe family reinvents Perth Amboy Cuban restaurant

Written for MyCentralJersey.com

Those who have visited the happening bar inside Terrazza Restaurant at 273 High St. in Perth Amboy may be shocked to see that within only a week’s time, it has transformed into a seductive, upscale Cuban restaurant with a completely reinvented menu, renamed La Terrazza Cubana under new partnered ownership.

“This is the kind of place where you would want to take a date,” said Monroe resident Jessica Lopez, restaurant manager and daughter of co-owner and head chef, Jay Lopez, also of Monroe. “It’s very sexy with elements such as our floral mural, black velvet booths, beautiful black-and-white tile and chandeliers, all reminiscent of Havana.”

The new upscale take is supported by the new eatery’s menu stocked with authentic Cuban cuisine, which only uses premiere cuts of meat and “the finest ingredients,” said Jay Lopez.

Paella at La Terrazza Cubana.  Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

Paella at La Terrazza Cubana. Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

Specialties include the lechón asado tradicional, the restaurant’s signature, slow-roasted pork with a secret blend of herbs and spices ($27) which was featured on Good Day New York and is only available in a limited quantity each day. Already a favorite of clientele, Jay Lopez said that his customers have been telling him that they love the “delicious and moist pork with crispy skin, delivered in their own personal, fresh ham.”

Other entrees include the churrasco a la parrilla, a 14-ounce Angus skirt steak with housemade chimichurri, peppers, onions, white rice and black beans ($27) and the paella cubana, which includes shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, chicken, Spanish chorizo, peas, peppers, olives, spices and saffron rice ($27).

Dinner entrees range from $19 to $29 and lunch entrees range from $10 to $13.

Roast Pork done La Terrazza Cubana style.  Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

Roast Pork done La Terrazza Cubana style. Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

“Being 100 percent Cuban, the food I present is what I like to eat,” said Jay Lopez. “I love that its comforting soul food, with an ethnic twist.”

Jay Lopez, who was born and raised in Pinar del Río, joined the restaurant team, his second alongside A Little Bit of Cuba Dos at 2 East Main St. in Freehold, at the end of March. Within just a few days, they completed wide-scale renovations and have been open to the public as of April 1.

“Since we renovated very quickly, we are going to have a grand opening in a few weeks after we ease into everything,” said Jessica Lopez.

Beef skirt steak with black beans and white rice at La Terrazza Cubana.  Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

Beef skirt steak with black beans and white rice at La Terrazza Cubana. Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

Terrazza Restaurant was formerly focused on the bar scene, but Jessica Lopez said that La Terrazza Cubana is much more culinary-focused, although the former restaurant also featured Cuban fare and drinks.

Jessica Lopez said that her family had been looking to expand the success of A Little Bit of Cuba Dos for some time, however with La Terrazza Cubana, they finally found the right location and partners.

She said that their Freehold customers are excited to try their new restaurant and have a space for parties, plus, the new restaurant has gotten a positive response from those in the area and on social media.

La Terrazza Cubana, a Cuban restaurant located at 273 High St, Perth Amboy.  Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

La Terrazza Cubana, a Cuban restaurant located at 273 High St, Perth Amboy. Mark R. Sullivan/Staff Photo

La Terrazza Cubana seats 200 people, while A Little Dos of Cuba sits about 120 people. Plus, La Terrazza Cubana features a bar, while a Little Dos of Cuba is BYOB, and the new restaurant has 6,000 square-feet to host private parties.

“Perth Amboy is going to attract a whole new demographic for us,” she said. “Now, we can bring in people from northern New Jersey and Staten Island and bring the Cuban experience to more people.”

Jay Lopez said that he thinks that the large Hispanic population in Perth Amboy will appreciate the Cuban fare. Plus, he said that he is “absolutely” open to purchasing or partnering with more Cuban restaurants.

“We are always looking for great spots where we can teach people to eat Cuban food in a way that you don’t compare it to rice and beans,” he said.

LA TERRAZZA CUBANA

Where: 273 High St., Perth Amboy

Cost: Dinner entrees range from $19 to $29 and lunch entrees range from $10 to $13

Contact: terrazzanj.com, 732-442-8100

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