About Back to Cuba Cafe

(from the Nashville Scene)

When Castro took control of Cuba decades ago, Florida became the home away from home for émigrés who fled his regime. Alex Martinez traveled a little farther north to Nashville, where he and his Central American-born wife Rebecca have owned and operated Mama Mia’s Italian restaurant for more than 20 years.


With Back to Cuba, Martinez pays homage to his native island. Cuban food is not spicy, but it is highly seasoned, as diners will discover in specialties like lechon (marinated and roasted pork), ropa vieja (seasoned beef stew cooked until the meat is in shreds) and pargo frito (fried red snapper, served whole), all of them served with black beans and rice, and two different types of fried plantain, one sweet, one savory. The Cuban sandwich is nearly as good as any one might find in Little Havana—the classic construction of ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard is layered on a length of French bread, swiped with butter, and cooked on a sandwich press until the cheese and meats ooze together in gooey goodness.