Luis and Sofi Perez want to take you to Cuba.
No packing. No plane required. No long journey.
Just drive to 301 South Avenue West in Westfield, close your eyes, listen and inhale.
There is Cuban music, punching a loud, catchy beat. On the walls, there is Cuban art and scenes of Cuba. And you can smell the results of culinary work in a fine Cuban kitchen.
Welcome to 1958 Cuban Cuisine – a new addition to the Westfield dining scene.
When husband and wife, Luis and Sofi, speak of their new restaurant, the words “comfortable” and “happy” keep coming up.
“It’s a joyful place to come and dine and experience the joyful years of Cuba,” Luis said. “It’s fine dining. It’s Cuban cuisine in a very relaxed and joyful atmosphere. Even the art on the wall will remind you of beautiful places and people. The food is authentic – prepared by Cubans from old, traditional recipes.”
And everything goes back to Cuba.
Both Luis and Sofi came to the United States from Cuba in 1968. They are Cuban, through and through – with the food, the language and Luis does like a good Cuban cigar.
For many years now, they have run salons – Sofi’s Color Lounge – in Cranford, Summit and Westfield.
“Luis has always been supportive of my dream,” Sofi said. “Now I’m being support of his. He loves to serve people and has always wanted to operate a restaurant.”
The restaurant harkens back to a better time.
“1958 was the last year Cuba was free,” Sofi said. “In the 1950s, it was the best time of their lives in Cuba. We want to get that feeling here. We want to create a glamorous, happy place.”
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, every day but Monday. Takeout and catering are also available.
As with any ethnic restaurant, the biggest hurdle will be getting those with no connection to Cuba to try something new.
“Each dish has a burst of different tastes,” Sofi said. “There’s sweet and savory together. It is not overly spicy, but we use a lot of garlic and onions in every dish.”
Both Sofi and Luis like to cook Cuban dishes, but they aren’t planning to do that in the restaurant. That is the job of chef J.R. Gonzalez.
The 1958 Cuban Cuisine difference: “We do it with authentic, quality ingredients,” Gonzalez said. “We make this Cuban food with Cuban hands. The recipes come from our roots – from our parents and grandparents. Everything is homemade and fresh.”