Soul de Cuba, a popular New Haven restaurant, opening at SoNo Collection in Norwalk

Soul de Cuba Cafe, a popular New Haven Cuban restaurant, will open a new location at the SoNo Collection mall in Norwalk next month.

“We’re bringing the most popular items from the New Haven restaurant — Cuban sandwich, Ropa Vieja, Cuban coffee, Cuban roast pork, rice, black bean soup, sweet fried plantains and tostones,” said Soul de Cuba founder and CEO Jesus Puerto.

The kiosk-style restaurant will be located near Bloomingdale’s in the SoNo Collection’s top floor, and Puerto said a couple of must-try items are the blended mojito and Cuban roast pork bowl. Many of the dishes are rooted in family recipes from Cuba.

Puerto opened the New Haven restaurant on Crown Street near the Yale Center for British Art in 2004, but the restaurant and resulting company were decades in the making. Puerto said he grew up around traditional Cuban food and culture. And his family formed one of the first Afro-Cuban mutual aid societies in the United States, Sociedad La Union Marti Maceo, in the early 1900s. When he was in college in the 1980s, Puerto began thinking about opening a restaurant that highlighted his family’s recipes and culture.

The New Haven restaurant quickly became a favorite for its blend of comfort Afro-Cuban food mixed with a homey ambiance. Puerto has also opened a location in Hawaii, which launched a nationally-distributed Cuban specialty food line. 

The official grand opening will take place on July 17, but the restaurant will be open by the beginning of July.