From the creators of Revolution Rotisserie and Milkman comes Amador, the first full-service Cuban-inspired restaurant in the greater Cincinnati area. 

Summer on the Levee is here! And to celebrate, we’re launching a Levee Life Spotlight series highlighting all our new and forthcoming businesses, starting with Amador Cuban Restaurant & Rum Bar (Amador) by Pesola Hospitality Group. This eatery overlooking the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati invites guests to experience a taste of the Caribbean island without ever leaving the 859 (or 513). Its vibrant, jungle-esque design immediately transports guests to the tropics upon entry, and traditional delicacies such as empanadas, croquetas and the famous Cubano sandwich are sure to inspire vacation-worthy siestas. In addition to its take on classic dishes, Amador also serves Latin American beers, wines, and spirits, including an extensive rum list, as well as authentic Cuban coffee: perfect for an afternoonpick-me-up or after-dinner digestif. 

On the go? Amador caters to that, too. Guests can grab coffee, cocktails or small plates from “La Ventanita” (little window), Amador’s bodega-style walk-up window, to enjoy during events like Live on the Levee, happening every Thursday June through August. 

We caught up with Nick Pesola, owner of Pesola Hospitality Group, to dive a little deeper into the Amador story. Check out the conversation below and be sure to tune in to our Instagram for a special behind-the-scenes restaurant takeover. 

Tell us the origin story behind Amador, including the name. 

I’ve traveled all around South Florida to places like Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, etc. and developed a true love for authentic, casual Cuban cuisine (Cuban sandwiches and croquetas are my favorite). When I first visited Newport on the Levee to check out the space that would eventually be home to Amador, the view looking out over the Ohio River was the first thing to catch my eye. I knew the concept was going to be Latin American-themed, but we needed to create something fun that celebrated the natural assets of the area, especially the tourism aspect, and introduce a new experience the community was ready for, but just didn’t have yet.   

Fun fact – “amador” has archaic Spanish roots and translates to “lover.” It’s also a common surname in Latin America. As lovers of all things Cuban, we knew it was the best representation for the overall vibe we aspired to create.

Why did you feel like Cuban was needed in the Newport area?

We heard the community’s desire for a great Cuban sandwich and thought, why not give them that, and so much more? We wanted to go really over the top with the concept (influenced by Miami’s iconic Versailles restaurant) and marry that larger-than-life vacation feeling with the best view in Newport. Staycation, anyone? 

Are your ingredients sourced locally or abroad?

We make just about everything from scratch in-house, utilizing proper techniques to give our menu that authentic Cuban sabor (Spanish for flavor). It can be quite challenging to source some of our ingredients, but we pride ourselves on working with local partners like Breadsmith and City Ham. We’ve also collaborated with a local coffee roaster, Coffee Break, to create a custom-blend crafted specifically for Amador. It’s a strong, dark roast featuring a mix of local and Central American Beans that will get anyone on their dancing feet during our weekly live music sets. 

Do any of the decorations/design elements in the restaurant have sentimental value/meaning? If so, can you elaborate?

When a guest walks into Amador, we want them to feel as if they’ve just touched down in 1950s Cuba and become fully immersed in the local culture. Playful features like the monkey hanging above the hostess stand and two exterior murals created by our graphic designer Adam Vicarel and his team serve as nods to old-time Cuba. Our back bar even features cigar boxes, vintage suitcases, and other custom décor pieces that evoke a sense of Cuban pride. 

What should first-timers know before visiting Amador?

All we ask of first timers is that they come in with an open mind ready to try new experiences and flavors. Other than that, come on in, and we’ll show you what warm, Cuban hospitality is all about. Pro tip: order the Cuban Cafecito, which includes two shots of espresso brewed with sugar, making it the ideal mix of frothy, sweet and smooth.

If you could only eat one menu item from Amador for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Hands down I’d say our Cubano. I’m very proud of the twist on this sammy we’ve crafted – it packs a lot of flavor and is honestly just really damn good. I’d wash it down with a Guava Paloma, our take on a paloma, made with blanco tequila, grapefruit, guava, and lime. It’s not a traditional Cuban beverage, but it’s my personal favorite cocktail on the menu right now.

To watch Amador’s feature on Kickin’ it with Ken, click here.