In the Know: Havana Blue Cuban restaurant opens in North Naples

Havana Blue Cuban Cuisine & Lounge opened in January 2019 at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt in North Naples.

18 Jan In the Know: Havana Blue Cuban restaurant opens in North Naples

Two of these restaurants launched within the last week at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt on the northwestern corner of Airport-Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach roads in North Naples.

Havana Blue

Havana Blue Cuban Cuisine & Lounge, which promotes itself as “a piece of Cuba under the Naples sky,” opened Thursday for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After a soft opening last Thursday, the restaurant’s grand opening was Monday. The restaurant has separate menus for breakfast, lunch specials and dinner with an expanded variety of authentic Cuban cuisine.

Havana Blue is owner Yanet Casanova’s third local restaurant. She also owns and operates the Floridita Cuban restaurants in Golden Gate and East Naples. Her new restaurant is in a large end space that most recently was Salsa Cuban Restaurant & Lounge at Shoppes at Vanderbilt, but it previously was home to Absinthe, The Basin and French Folies restaurants.

Although she has lived in Naples for 25 years, Casanova was born and raised in Cuba and claims to serve the most authentic Cuban cuisine in the Naples area. She wants Havana Blue to continue to raise the bar.

Dinner entrees include Cuban classics, ranging from picadillo (seasoned ground beef with tomato sauce, onions and red peppers) served with white rice and sweet plantains for $10 to churrasco (grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce) served with white rice and black beans for $25. In between are other authentic dishes such as ropa vieja shredded beef, palomilla steak marinated in garlic and lemon, and lechon asado grilled pork with mojo sauce.

Appetizers range from fried yuca ($6) to a chicken wings party ($17). Other options include Cuban sliders, croquetas, beef empanadas, cod fritters, nachos Cubanos, pork tamales, fried calamari, pork chicharron and tostones or fried green plantains.

 Lunch specials ($9-$12) include the popular Cuban and media noche sandwiches classically made with slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and mayo. Lunch portions of some of the dinner items are available as well as other sandwiches, wraps, Cuban tacos and the Havana Blue Burger with lettuce, onions, tomato, Swiss cheese, ketchup and potato sticks. The Havana Blue Sandwich de Pollo features a grilled chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, fried plantains, avocado and mayo on Cuban bread.

Desserts ($5-$7) include caramel flan, rice pudding, chocolate cake, tres leches cake, coconut cake and tiramisu. Don’t forget a Café Cubano, a sweet Cuban espresso; or café con leche, steamed milk with a double shot of Cuban espresso.

Breakfast items range from a fruit salad ($7) to the Havana Blue Special ($15) of scrambled eggs with ham, cheese, onions, peppers, bacon and Spanish sauce served with Cuban bread toast and fruit. Omelets, fried eggs with chorizo sausage or bacon, and croissant sandwiches also are on the early menu. Many of the lunch sandwiches and wraps are available for breakfast too.

Available to eat in or to go are house-made pastries and other sweets displayed in lighted cases at the end of Havana Blue’s bar. Based on the success of the Floridita locations, popular bakery items include Cuban flan, rice pudding and coconut and guava tartelettes.

Live entertainment also will be part of the Havana Blue experience. During the week, the venue will host singers, comedians and other performing artists.

The restaurant becomes a Latin nightclub Friday and Saturday nights. A disc jockey operates from an elevated booth at the side of the dining area and music videos are projected on the entire large back wall of the restaurant. The nightlife launches this Friday, but a kickoff party is planned Feb. 1.

Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. daily. The full bar in that longtime restaurant space was moved from the center of the dining room to its western edge for Havana Blue and draft beer taps were added.

The restaurant offers seating at its extended bar and at tables, booths and banquettes. With seating inside and at umbrella tables on an outdoor patio, the restaurant has more than 150 seats.

Havana Blue, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 200, is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information call 239-591-5149 or find Havana Blue restaurant on Facebook.

Frank Rodriguez Junior
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