At Cienfuegos, the new rum emporium in the East Village, the food is somewhat less impressive than the cocktails and the atmosphere. What a room! It’s a turquoise-and-pink fantasia of Sinatra-era Havana crossed with Alice in Wonderland. The servers are dressed up in colorful aprons like ’50s housewives, Betty Draper in a better mood. The cocktails are made with rum. Though some of the plates are dull beyond words (limp vegetable empanadas), other offerings are quite good and ably fill a stomach sloshing with punch.
One such dish is the costillas ($15), or pork ribs, supposedly glazed with habanero and guava. (The sauce is pleasantly sweet-salty but lacks that chile’s burn.) Those ribs are substantial and extremely tender, nearly meat pudding. The tostones — plantains that have been fried, squashed flat, and fried again — are wonderfully crisp and greaseless. Use the salty, starchy disks to wipe up any remaining sauce and pork drippings.
Drunken shrimp are also competently done, fat crustaceans in a cilantro-flecked sauce that’s tart and zippy with rum and a huge quantity of garlic. Sweet plantain mash mellows the dish out.
443 East 6th Street
Enter through the Carteles sandwich shop