MIAMI – It's all about Cuban cuisine and culture at Polo Norte in Miramar, as this is the newest location of six, family-owned and operated, South Florida-based Cuban restaurants founded in 1992 by the Busquet family.
Dad Raul risked it all to find freedom.
Sons Raul and Eugenio explained.
"We came over on the Mariel boatlift in 1980. My dad, my mom, my brother and I originally settled in New Jersey," Raul said.
Soon they moved to Miami and opened up an ice cream parlor in Hialeah calling it Polo Norte, serving up decadent dishes like this one called Copa Lolita.
"We started in 1992, three days before Hurricane Andrew. So it wiped us out. So that was a great first start," said Eugenio laughing.
But they rebuilt and expanded the menu to include Cuban pizzas and traditional dishes, and unique plates created by mom Vivian.
"So we have mom and dad here in the corner, and the only reason why they're not on with us is because they don't speak English," said CBS4's Lisa Petrillo.
"But is it still very much of a total family business?" she asked.
"Yes ma'am, hands on all the time," said Raul.
A photo collage wall is dedicated to their family and famous athletes and artists of Cuban descent.
Raul said it's all about paying homage to their homeland while being grateful for what they've built in this country.
"The biggest thing to our family and to our father is knowing what he lived through in Cuba, the revolution. Here we have freedom. He considers himself an American," said Raul.
We begin our plentiful tasting with the hearty and fun Antojito appetizer - with plantain strips, Spanish sausage, and fried cheese.
Then the Frita Cubana, or Cuban hamburger. It's a true classic served with homemade crunchy fries.
Then, Shrimp Pizza?
Yes! Thick crust with shrimp Creole sauce and a blend of gouda and mozzarella cheeses.
"That's what I love. The cheese is baked in and it's thick and hefty, but it's not heavy. The shrimp gives it a wonderful texture," said Petrillo.
The Bistec Uruguayo is Palomilla steak layered with ham, Swiss cheese, chorizo, and bacon.
It's breaded and fried.
"I thought I tried all traditional Cuban dishes through this job. I have never tried this before and it's so different and interesting," said Petrillo.
And finally something out of this world, the Guava & Cheese Pizza.
"When I first heard it," said Petrillo, "I was like guava and cheese pizza, what? That is insanely good. Don't miss dessert!"
Polo Norte is open Tuesday through Sunday serving lunch and dinner.
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