Lisboa-Habana blends Portuguese & Cuban cuisine in Hialeah

There may be a thousand Cuban restaurants in Hialeah, but we only know of one that features Portuguese fare along with black beans and fried yuca. Lisboa-Habana is in a strip mall and has murals of the El Capitolia in Havana and the St. Jerome Monastery in Lisbon. Raise a glass of vinho verde with grilled octopus or ropa vieja.

Armando Areias is from Guimaraes in northern Portugal. He studied management at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, and then worked his way up from bus boy to manager at Old Lisbon, owned by a hometown friend. He met Cuban-born restaurateur David Gonzalez over a roasted pig at Lighthouse Café on Key Biscayne. They became friends and joined forces to open Lisboa-Habana a year ago.

Bacalhau is called fiel amigo (faithful friend) in Portuguese and cooked over 300 ways. The stiff slabs of dried cod are soaked in several changes of water to remove the salt and served here grilled, deep fried, baked under melted cheese, stewed in cream or tomato sauce, scrambled with eggs and potatoes, cooked with rice, made into fritters and added to fish soup with vegetables.

Other dishes include clams in white wine and garlic sauce, grilled sardines, white bean and seafood stew, chorizo with peppers and chilled spiny lobster served out of the shell with pink mayo. Cuban dishes range from braised rabbit in Creole sauce to pork tenderloin stuffed with mashed green plantain.

Delicias de Fatima is egg custard that was first made by convent nuns to use the yolks left over from egg whites used to starch their habits. Wash down the dessert named after an apparition of the Virgin Mary with a glass of port or Cuban cafecito and give thanks for a sweet choice.