Cuban Italian restaurant La Romanita opens in Hialeah, Florida


La Romanita Restaurant and Lounge, located next to Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, serves pasta and pizza, as well as seafood and salads.

If you didn’t know Cuban-Italian fusion was a thing, this new Hialeah restaurant is here to show you all.

La Romanita Restaurant & Lounge opens this week next to Amelia Earhart Park, and with it comes a menu influenced by Havana-born executive chef Reinier “Rey” Mendez, who began his career as the manager of a pizzeria in Union Francesa, Cuba. In Miami, he has worked at concepts such as STK Miami, Shula’s Steakhouse, Casa Tua Cucina in downtown Brickell, and most recently Lure Fish Bar at Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

Chef Rey’s new restaurant, from the Prestige Hospitality group, can accommodate 65 people in its dining room, with an outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 40 people. The open kitchen will serve Latin-inspired dishes as well as seafood, salads and meats in addition to pastas and pizzas.

Expect appetizers, which range from $7 to $18, to include garbanzo frito (chorizo, chickpeas, and sofrito); tartare di tonna (albacore tuna, shallot, parsley, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, dried egg yolk and avocado) and crudo mixto (albacore tuna, salmon, snapper, passion fruit, vinaigrette and spicy oil ). You can also order lighter dishes like salads ($10-$18).

Homemade pasta costs between $14 and $32. Choose your shape – orecchiette, spaghetti, penne or fettuccine – then choose a sauce like carbonara, amatriciana or gamberoni (with prawns, white wine, parsley, butter and capers). Lasagna with and without meat will also be prepared daily.

A wall of La Romanita has a mural of Rome and the Colosseum.

While the pastas are quintessentially Italian, the pizzas at La Romanita ($15 to $26) feature a Cuban twist. One is topped with vaca frita and tomato sofrito sauce; another, La Lechona, is topped with pulled pork. There is also a Zetas Y Tartufo pizza with white truffle sauce, cheese, mushrooms and truffle oil.

Seafood selections ($18 to $32) include salmon, branzino with mashed pine nuts and spinach and La Tuna China, crispy tuna with shrimp fried rice and onions. You can also order steaks, pork shoulder, roast rabbit or braised lamb ($21 to $64).

La Romanita offers something different for the neighborhood, says Prestige Companies partner Dennis Rodriguez. The wine list features more than 80 different types of wine from around the world, and the restaurant will host weekend jazz concerts with local musicians and performers.

“Chef Rey’s unique cooking style, coupled with the restaurant’s approach to producer champagnes and boutique wines, will elevate Hialeah to new levels in the local culinary scene,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

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Executive Chef Reinier “Rey” Mendez of the new La Romanita restaurant in Hialeah.

La Romanita Restaurant and Lounge

Where: 7755 West Fourth Avenue, Hialeah

Opening: 5 August

Hours: 12pm-10pm Monday to Thursday; 12:00-11:30 p.m. Friday; 11am-11.30pm Saturday and Sunday

More information: Where @la_romanita_restaurant on Instagram

The bar at La Romanita in Hialeah. chelsea

Connie Ogle loves wine, books and the Miami Heat. Please don’t feed him a mango.

Joshua B. Speller