‘What is a Cuban pizza?’ New WPB restaurant answers that question

Xiomara Aguilera can’t help but laugh while describing how she met the love of her life.

“The first thing I asked him was: ‘Do you cook? Because if you don’t, you’re disqualified,’” she says.

Luckily, he did. And Eddy Tapia’s intentions were far greater than she expected. Not only was he a great cook, but he was the missing piece she had been looking for.

Related: Readers’ Choice for ‘Best Pizza in PBC’

Eddy Tapia kisses his girlfriend Xiomara Aguilera inside their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. October 2016. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia kisses his girlfriend Xiomara Aguilera inside their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

“It was love at first sight,” says Aguilera. 

Aguilera had been working as a baker for the past 25 years in West Palm, but she didn’t want to work at a supermarket forever. Eddy worked in construction since moving to the city in 2008, something he did make a living, not something he wanted to do. When they met in 2010, everything came together.

“We unified our ideas and we were able to open something we both love,” says Eddy.

Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilar working behind the counter at their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. October 2016. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilar working behind the counter at their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Cuban lovebirds — Xiomara from Las Tunas and Eddy from Pinar del Rio — opened their Cuban pizzeria and bakery in West Palm Beach in August. They called it Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery.”

Xiomara Aguilera, the owner of "Mi Isla Cuban Pizzeria and Bakery" makes the desserts at the restaurant.
Xiomara Aguilera, the owner of “Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” makes the desserts at the restaurant. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

Aguilera admits that she never liked cooking, hence why she wanted a man who cooks. Her passion is making desserts, namely Cuban pastries and the undeniably-sweet café cubano, something she offers with a smile to every customer who walks in because “that’s just Cuban courtesy.”

Tapia, who’s a bit more timid, has always loved making Cuban pizza for his family. Now, he’s the guy in the back of the kitchen making the seasoned-magic happen for an entire community.

"Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery" in West Palm Beach
“Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” in West Palm Beach (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

“You must try it,” says Tapia confidently. 

That’s exactly how Tapia answered when asked, “What the heck is a Cuban Pizza?”

It goes like this: He makes sure the dough it just right. He says it’s a thicker bread that’s fully cooked, yet it’s chewier and fluffier than a traditional Italian pizza.

La salsa es divina! (The sauce is divine),” says Aguilera.

Any Italian would tell you that the secret in a great pizza is the sauce. This Cuban twist is no exception. Tapia says the sauce is still tomato-based, but it has all kinds of Cuban seasonings that make it a lot more flavorful. He guarantees you’ll love it. But, like most true chefs, he won’t share more of the secret.

“It’s a recipe we both created. It is intimate,” says the Cuban gentleman.

Any guy that abides by the “don’t-kiss-and-tell” rule must be a keeper.

Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilera, the owners of "Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery" in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilera, the owners of “Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

Both Tapia and Aguilera spent the past year perfecting the taste that would get people coming for more. In December 2015, Tapia traveled to all parts of Cuba to sample native pizzas, different tomatoes, spices and learn different cooking methods. It was Aguilera who would sit at the table and try all of his sauces.

“She is the tasting queen. She hates the kitchen, but loves to eat,” jokes Eddy while serving a Cuban espresso. A few months ago, they locked down a recipe they both love.

A Cuban Pizza made by Eddy Tapia. thicker cuban-style dough, secret-recipe sauce a-la-Cuba, mozzarella cheese, ham and pineapple. October 2016 (Julio Poletti/ the Palm Beach Post)
A Cuban Pizza made by Eddy Tapia. thicker Cuban-style dough, secret-recipe sauce a-la-Cuba, mozzarella cheese, ham and pineapple. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The toppings on these pizzas are both Cuban and traditional. You can choose from regular ham, pineapple or pepperoni to more Cuban ingredients such as chorizo, lechon asado (roast pork) or even guayaba con queso (guava with cheese.)

“We have a good balance,” says Aguilera. “He cooks and I make desserts.” 

Eddy Tapia makes Cuban Pizzas while Xiomara Aguilera makes the desserts. (Julio Poletti/ the Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia makes Cuban Pizzas while Xiomara Aguilera makes the desserts. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Details:

What: “Mi Isla—Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery”

Where: 1209 S Military Trl., West Palm Beach, FL 33415

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone: 561-310-7286

Wonder where Mi Isla would rank in our Readers’ Choice for Best Pizza?

Avocado Grill celebrates 2nd birthday in grand, funky style party

It’s hard to imagine a weekend when there was not a celebration of some kind at Avocado Grill, Chef Julien Gremaud’s popular spot in downtown West Palm Beach. Perhaps that’s because the very air in the lively restaurant, which spills onto the sidewalk and side patio, seems to sway.

But as Avocado Grill turns 2 this weekend, the restaurant is cranking its celebratory mode to full blast.

A local pair enjoy a window seat at Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
A local pair enjoy a window seat at Avocado Grill in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

First, there’s a reggae brunch Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., to the live music of Spred the Dub. On the menu: island-y offerings like coconut lobster rolls, jerk shrimp tacos and dirty rice. Five hours later, the vibe turns clubby as DJ Adam Lipson kicks off his set (9 p.m).

Sunday starts with a brunch as well – a ‘70s-style disco brunch. Adding to the mood: music by Mr. Trombone (Wayne Perry), drummer Ryan Anthony and DJ German Garcia. Brunch also features a costume contest. The contestant with the best retro ‘70 attire wins a $200 Avocado Grill gift card.

Julien Gremaud is chef/owner at Avocado Grill. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Julien Gremaud is chef/owner at Avocado Grill. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Chef Gremaud is hoping guests “go all out” on their costume concepts.

“It’s almost Halloween and we want to see what everyone’s got,” he said via news release.

Of course, there are two weeks of potential celebrations to go before Halloween shadows our doors.

And Gremaud admits he “can’t resist a good party.”

Can you tell the chef used to be a DJ?

Avocado Grill's Dulce de Leche Lava Cake. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Avocado Grill’s Dulce de Leche Lava Cake. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

Avocado Grill: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-623-0822; AvocadoGrillWPB.com

Hurricane Matthew party: Coniglio restaurants to stay open during storm

Not everyone in Palm Beach County is a freaked-out mess about this hurricane. The folks at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon plan to party right through the storm. In fact, they’re calling the place “The Official Hurricane Landfall Headquarters.”

They’re taking Hurricane Matthew’s approach as a reason to flip into full, old-Florida-watering-hole mode.

The infamous no dancing sign next to the bar at E.R. Bradley's in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Sign at the bar at E.R. Bradley’s in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

“This is how we’ve always done it. We stay open and service the downtown area. We become a hub to commiserate and celebrate and just gather,” says Nick Coniglio, whose family owns Bradley’s.

The popular pub perched on the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront has no generator to kick in during a power outage. But Coniglio is not worried.

“We’ve got lots of bagged ice and gas burners and we’re ready to go. And we have staff members who plan to tough it out during the storm,” he said, adding that he will have a police officer on premises as well. He says the restaurant and bar will offer a special $5 hurricane menu.

E.R. Bradley's faces the waterfront in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
E.R. Bradley’s faces the waterfront in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Coniglio’s other restaurant, Cucina Dell’Arte in Palm Beach, will be opened during the storm as well, he says. The windows there are boarded up, but the door will be open for customers who want a nice Italian meal and a cocktail.

 

One of the first short-lived menus from E.R. Bradley's in West Palm Beach on December 11, 2014.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The restaurants will also be preparing food for delivery by Cravy. (Meals can be ordered at GoCravy.com.)

“These situations bring back that local spirit. We can have a cocktail among friends, or just stop in if we need ice or something to eat,” says Coniglio.

He plans to visit both restaurants during Thursday, when the hurricane is expected to impact Palm Beach County.

“The last time I did this, it was a real eerie feeling. It’s isolated out and the winds are coming through – and a couple of people think you’re really nuts for being out,” he says. “But it was kind of a proud Floridian moment, too. This is where we live and what happens here.”

E.R. Bradley’s Saloon: 104 S. Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-3520

 

 

 

Jupiter cantina offers free meals to uniformed police and firefighters

There is such a thing as a free lunch – and free dinner – in Jupiter. If you’re a uniformed firefighter or police officer, that is.

That’s the forever deal at Burro Loco Cantina on Indiantown Road, says co-owner Shad DiMaria.

“This is not a short-term promotion, but a permanent policy,” he said. The offer extends to all police and fire departments. “If they’re in uniform, they eat free.”

It’s a policy rooted in gratitude, he says.

A view of the bar at Burro Loco. (Contributed image)
A view of the bar at Burro Loco. (Contributed image)

“I have a lot of friends who are police and fire. There has been a lot of publicity about the few bad apples, but nobody mentions all the good things (police officers) do,” says DiMaria. “So we decided to say ‘thank you’ with actions, instead of words.”

The restaurant serves a variety of Mexican and Central American street foods, including breakfast chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, tortas, tacos, menudo stew, enchiladas, fajitas and enchiladas.

Burro Loco is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It’s located at 711 W. Indiantown Rd., Jupiter; 561-320-0040; BurroLocoPBC.com

 

 

 

New barbecue joint settles in at CityPlace

Brisket, ribs, cornbread, macaroni and greens prepared at Brother Jimmy's BBQ. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Brisket, ribs, macaroni and greens at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

Smoky scents now stir from the new barbecue spot on the second floor of CityPlace like a big welcome sign emblazoned on a corner that stood empty for well over a year.

Open since early April, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ has plenty of signs bearing its catchy slogan (“Put some South in yo mouth”), but none are more enticing than the promise of good barbecue.

But does it deliver on that promise? Read our review here!

 

Which celebrity ordered takeout from Havana restaurant on Valentine’s Day?

Cravy delivery service owner Manny Bornia delivered Havana restaurant cuisine to Grammy winner James Taylor on Feb. 13 and 14. (Contributed photo)
Cravy delivery service owner Manny Bornia delivered Havana restaurant cuisine to Grammy winner James Taylor (right) on Feb. 13 and 14. (Contributed photo)

Celebrities can’t seem to get enough of West Palm Beach’s favorite Cuban restaurant.

This time, it was five-time Grammy winner James Taylor who had a hankering for Havana restaurant while he was in town. Taylor was staying at Mar-a-Lago when he ordered a Cuban steak platter through Cravy on Saturday, and liked it so much he ordered out again on Valentine’s Day.

Five-time Grammy winner James Taylor signed the Havana restaurant menu after he ordered take out Saturday and Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Five-time Grammy winner James Taylor signed the Havana restaurant menu after he ordered take out Saturday and Sunday. (Contributed photo)

Cravy’s owner Manny Bornia delivered the meal himself, posed for a photo with the “Fire and Rain” singer, and had him sign the Havana menu for posterity. The restaurant, at the corner of South Dixie Highway and Forest Hill Boulevard, has dozens of signed menus from celebrities who have stopped in over its 23 years, including, recently, Martha Stewart, Robert Duvall and Sofia Vergara.

What kind of Cuban food tantalized Taylor for Valentine’s Day? Roast pork with yellow rice and black beans, and tres leches and flan for dessert.

 

Avocado Grill turns the “big 1” in downtown West Palm

Avocado Grill, West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Avocado Grill, West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

The lively Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach is marking its first anniversary with a weekend-long celebration. Chef/owner Julien Gremaud is hosting a “Big ONE” party at 8 p.m. Friday, serving specialty drinks, a special menu, home-baked birthday cake and a helping of DJ-spun tunes on the side.

On Sunday, the chef hosts the “ONEderful Birthday Brunch,” starting at 11 a.m.

The menu is eclectic at Avocado Grill, Datura Street. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
The menu is eclectic at Avocado Grill, Datura Street. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

Reservations are strongly suggested for both days.

Avocado Grill: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-623-0822; AvocadoGrillWPB.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Coming to CityPlace: Chef Lindsay Autry to helm big, new eatery

Southern-meets-world chef Lindsay Autry at work. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Southern-meets-world: Chef Lindsay Autry. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Big news for the local dining scene: Star chef Lindsay Autry will take her culinary talents to CityPlace.

The Bravo TV “Top Chef” finalist has partnered with restaurateur Thierry Beaud (Pistache, PB Catch, Paneterie) to bring a refreshed “American kitchen table” concept to the massive space most recently occupied by Pampas Grille.Dish1231Beaurd

The upcoming eatery, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, is expected to open in early 2016.

“We want to focus on real, conscious and approachable food, showcasing the beautiful product that we have locally and regionally – which is how we came up with the name, really,” says Autry.

Read all about planned restaurant at MyPalmBeachPost.com.

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda