This post is long overdue (I ate there in April), but better late than never. As I lament (often) about there being no Cuban restaurant scene here in Pittsburgh (well, one finally opened up in Lawrenceville last year and while I greatly enjoyed my meal there, the menu was somewhat limited), any chance that I have to partake in Cuban food I do. I’ve also been dreaming about a quick trip down to Miami ever since I saw the film Chef, since at least from a culinary aspect, it looks like a worthy substitute to Cuba.
When I visited Philadelphia in April, I went to one of Jose Garces’ restaurants, Rosa Blanca, with my parents. It’s thing is “Cuban style comfort food” served up all day in a relaxed setting. So yes, if you happen to be visiting Philadelphia and need somewhere to dine at let’s say 3 PM, Rosa Blanca is the place (sometimes it’s just nice to eat at a place more special than a food court or fast food establishment). After having spent the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and then walking around Old City taking some photographs for one of my favorite photo essays, we made our way to Rosa Blanca, which is a couple of blocks west of sights like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
We had pretty early reservations (around 5:15 PM) and the place was definitely dead. When you first walk in, you’re in the “diner style” section which is also where you can go if you want to get or pick up take out. The bar is slightly farther back, and then after leaving behind the brightly lit first room, you are transported to a recreated Cuba, complete with minimal lighting, ceiling fans, and other Cuban style decor (I love Cuban places that have the interior done up like this).
As I was looking for an energy boost from having eaten very little all day, I started off with a Pina Colada batido, which means milk shake in Spanish ($5). It was enormous and delicious. They had plenty of other flavors including mango and dulce de leche.
The table got a basket of sweet rolls that came with a fruit spread. Between this and my batido I could have been set food wise.
My mom and I then split a Croqueta de Jamon, ham croquette ($6) and my dad ordered a chicken one ($5). Each order came with four croquettes as well as a tangy dipping sauce. Croquettes to me are little fried pieces of heaven and in my opinion don’t need any additional taste added. These were sinfully amazing.
As they serve breakfast all day, I ordered the Vaca Frita for my entree ($14). This consisted of braised beef, moros (black beans), sweet plantains, and two eggs. It was a ton of food and nothing new or overly special, but it just hit the spot.
My mom selected the Picadillo ($16) which is a ground beef hash mixed with white rice and golden raisins. Picadillo is a popular dish throughout Latin America. One bite of it and it’s easy to see why.
For his entree, my dad went with the Masitas de Puerco ($18) which was fried pork shoulder served with tamal en cazuela (Cuban polenta with pork). He thoroughly enjoyed his dish. All of the comidas (the main meals) come with black beans.
We didn’t stay for dessert but we DID get dessert to go. My parents split a slice of the Tres Leches cake ($7) while I went with two of the Guyaba and Cheese pasteles (turnovers), $4 each. It sounds odd but guyaba (a tropical fruit) paired with cream cheese tastes so good.
I truly loved my meal at Rosa Blanca and can’t wait to dine there again, either to try new items on the menu or stay with beloved favorites.
707 Chestnut Street Philadelphia Pennsylvania 19106