Ramsey Food Notes

There are some good things going on for foodies in Ramsey, most notably the rash of new restaurants recently opened and my favorite indoor farmers market.  The Ramsey Farmers Market open Sundays from 10am-2pm at the Eric Smith School at 73 Monroe Street is a treasure trove of organic vendors and locally sourced produce, cheese, meat, honey, breads, confections, coffee, tea, eggs, baked goods, jams and preserves, pickles, body care products and more.

Ramsey native Guy Jones is owner of Blooming Hill Farm and has several varieties of potatoes, squash, lettuce, hardy greens, ginger, pears and cabbages to choose from.  Across from Blooming Hill Farm is Teaneck-based Lux Naturals, makers of exquisite shea butter rich skin creams, fragrant soy candles and soap, all hand-crafted and gift-worthy.

Be sure to sample the luscious toffee from Charley’s Toffee and meet lovely Heather, mom of four and founder of this organic, gluten-free, pristine line of toffee.  Heather’s family has been preparing toffee for multiple generations and Heather’s products would do her family proud.  Beautifully packaged in an earthy simplicity and available in a several varieties, starting at $7 for a box of 9 pieces  (I am a purist and love the Sea Salt Toffee with a sprinkling of crunchy Maldon sea salt flakes enrobed in the smooth, stretchy toffee.)

LL Pettenger Farms carries NJ grown meats and sausages and Mahwah’s Southtown Farms carries pasture/free range eggs and hens.  You will find the vendors to be knowledgeable, service-focused owners who are proud to share valuable information about storage, preparation and more to get the most pleasure out of their products.

Ramsey Farmers Market founders Nancy Boone and Carol Watson have done a fine job assembling quality vendors that offer the diversity of a full scale farmers market, complete with natural wool and hand-knit goods and crafts, within the cozy confines of a middle school lunch room.

Shopping at the Ramsey Farmers Market may whet your appetite for lunch and you have several options.  Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is a good choice.  I visited during the grand opening phase and liked the fact that my sports loving husband and kids were able to watch any of the multiple flat screens adorning the walls of this lively eatery while enjoying fresh, tasty food without any fighting (a big deal when there are three kids, two of whom are teens).  The Anthony’s Classic Italian Salad ($9.25) is fresh, cold and loaded with crispy romaine, tomatoes and cukes and tossed with a really well-seasoned dressing.  Meatballs are serious here and be sure to get them.  These beauties are large, hand-rolled, slow cooked orbs served with a tomato sauce (not overly assertive, just right) and a dollop of ricotta cheese ($5.95 for an order of 2).  Get them.

Broccoli Rabe and Sausage ($10.95) is delicious, another healthy portion which had everyone digging in.  The Coal Oven Roasted Chicken Wings ($9.50 for 10 pieces) come under a topping of carmelized onion and served with Anthony’s ubiquitous Focaccia bread, hand made and baked off for each order.  The wings aren’t Buffalo style and we appreciated their fresh, robust quality which showcased the chicken as opposed to a spicy sauce.  The pizzas (starting at $12.25) are, according to the menu, “well done” which means they are both baked in an 800 degree coal oven, emerging with blackened blisters and a sublime taste thanks to simple, fresh ingredients that comprise both sauce and toppings.  The Paul and Young Ron pie with Meatballs, Sausage, Hot or Sweet Peppers and Ricotta Cheese is a winner.  If you want to keep it simple, the traditional won’t disappoint.  I give Anthony’s a thumbs up for family and guy friendly vibe and menu offerings.  This is fresh, tasty fare with an emphasis on quality ingredients.

The Shannon Rose Irish Pub, newly opened at 1200 Rt. 17 North at Franklin Turnpike, will likely be compared to Houlihan’s, but here’s where the difference lies:  this Irish pub is serving up a smart selection of micro-brews and some good grub in a milieu that makes people, well, happy it seems.  A recent visit showed this celebration of all things Irish to be successful from both a concept and execution standpoint.  Packed with young families, single professionals, guys grabbing a beer with friends and watching sports on any of the bar’s multiple flat screens, large and small parties, The Shannon Rose has struck a balance between decent food, recession-sensitive menu pricing and perceived value served up in a vibe that says times are good.

Go for a micro brew and Irish Potato Skins ($8.99) or Chunky New England Clam Chowder ($5.49) for starters, the latter a cream, silky rendition with a lovely smokiness from Irish Bacon.  The Filet Mignon ($19.99) is 7 oz. of nicely charred tender beef with a tasty demi-glace and a mountain of mashed potatoes, clearly fresh, creamy and full of comfort thanks to plenty of cream and butter.  The Homemade Shepherd’s Pie ($12.99) is a tasty blend of ground beef and veggies baked underneath more of those creamy mashed potatoes.  A hefty portion is served with Irish soda bread and what tasted like whipped margarine.  (Why not butter?)   The menu will appeal to the masses and The Shannon Rose’s Murder Burger ($11.99), featured on foodbeast.com, a Harp beer battered and fried massive burger with the works will surely have its share of fans.  Meatloaf ($13.99), blackened salmon ($16.99), an array of burgers, salads, apps and more Irish fare will keep this place hopping and the bar, I predict, will be a favorite amongst the younger set thanks to an enticing series of weeknight promos.  Desserts, if you have room, range from a brick-sized Irish soda bread pudding (enough for a party of 6 to split) to a petite Harp beer infused pudding.

Heidi Raker Goldstein is our Bergen county regional editor.  A locavore, cooking enthusiast, publicist and mother of three junior gourmands, Heidi is equally comfy in greasy spoons and high-end restaurants.  When not visiting local farmers markets and farm stands in Bergen and Rockland counties, this New England native, former Manhattanite and Bergen county resident is busy running her PR and green marketing agency, Raker Goldstein & Co., buying food, planning menus, cooking food, writing about food or simply eating.  To reach Heidi, email her at heidi@rakergoldstein.com.