New York

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New York
Mojitos, music and mojo in the Village Restaurant
CUBA 222 Thompson St. New York, NY 10012
The congas beat out a celebratory rhythm, hostesses shake
their hips, and the vibe is so upbeat here that customers could
be served baloney sandwiches and they'd be happy. Happier
they are then, to be dining on suckling pig and garlicky cassava, or rich seafood stew of lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams and salmon, courtesy of David Martinez, a
born-and-trained Cuban executive chef. Formerly of Havana's
famed Hotel Nacional, he includes classic dishes like ropa vieja
-- shredded skirt steak braised in garlic sauce, and the traditional oxtail in red wine sauce, but adds his own creations like
mariscos Varadero: pan-seared shrimp and scallops with passion fruit sauce, named for Varadero, Cuba's most famous
beach. The guyabera-clad wait staff are as lively as the band
(which plays Thursday-Saturday), and attend to guests' needs
even before they become needs. Cigar makers roll complimentary cigars most Saturdays, and throughout the labyrinthine space, from the canvas-roofed la terrazzo room to the
subterranean, stone-walled Hemingway hideaway, it seems that
people might burst into dance at any moment. -- Dan Glass.