When a New York café says they’ve got the best Cuban sandwich north of Miami, they better be able to back it up. Café Mezzaluna — the colorful, bustling Latin bistro that often hosts poetry readings, art exhibits, and various musicians — makes this claim, and stands by it. Cherie, a waitress and all-around staffer, recently told a customer who hailed from Miami that “it’s the best around, but she wouldn’t believe me until she tried it.”
Mezzaluna’s Cubano offers a twist on the traditional style. It’s got the basics: ham, pork, Swiss, and dill pickle; but where typical melts have mustard, the Cubano has mojito sauce — a housemade blend of garlic, parsley, and other spices. Plus, the pork is pernil, a Puerto Rican-style meat seasoned with diced garlic, black pepper, and sofrito. It is then left to marinate for 24 hours before being baked. The pork is extremely tender, the Swiss tames the saltiness of the ham, and the cooling pickle adds a pop of flavor. It’s all placed on a club roll to be grilled, then panini-pressed. It’s soft, savory, and crisp in all the right places.
Cherie continues: “Before the Miami woman left, she found me and said, ‘Just to let you know, that was the best damn Cuban sandwich I ever had.’ And we still haven’t had anyone tell us otherwise.”