Like all serious eaters I strive to find deliciousness in every morsel that passes my lips. Sometimes that doesn’t happen though, resulting in disappointment. And sometimes the disappointment is so strong that the wrong must be righted immediately. The other day I went to try a Cuban sandwich at a Woodside restaurant that I won’t bother to name. While it wasn’t inedible, it was by far the worst specimen I’ve ever seen. Improperly pressed, tough fatty pork, unmelted cheese; you get the idea. Rather than torture myself, I ate only half of the abomination and headed over to El Sitio, an old-school spot that makes an exemplary cubano. And ya gotta love the cartoon pig on the sign.
When the waitress brought over my cubano I knew things would soon be set right in my gastronomic universe. I bit into the perfectly pressed sandwich and my mouth buzzed happily with all sorts of textures and flavors. Crunchy bread encased slice of pork that were alternately juicy and crispy, ham, plenty of garlic and oozing Swiss cheese. Surely this is the Platonic form of the cubano.
A quick look under the hood reveals why El Sitio’s cubano is numero uno in my book. Look at all that garlic sitting on top of that delicious brown roast pork. Note how well-toasted the bread is also.
Normally I get a flan and café con leche for dessert at a Cuban restaurant. But I noticed two ladies seated next to me at the counter happily munching on thin slices of bread that packed an incredibly garlicky aroma. That’s right people, I had garlic bread for dessert. Actually, it was more like garlic toast. Before the waitress put the bread in the press, each slice was at least twice as thick. Then she spread each with margarine and daubed on crushed garlic and oil with a paint brush. The end result: slices of crunchy, golden garlicky heaven. It’s amazing what you can do with a properly wielded sandwich press. FYI, the garlic bread doesn’t appear on the menu, you have to ask for it. In Spanish it's pan con ajo y mantequilla.
68-28 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside NY (near 69 Street, map) 718-424-2369