While Washington Street is the main drag in Hoboken, First Street has some of the best hidden gems in town. Alongside mainstays Luca Brasi’s and Sushi House, and just down the street from popular newcomer Choc-o-Pain, is the newly opened Little Town Social.
Restaurateurs Albie and Chris Manzo will reintroduce the Little Town brand to Hoboken. They have joined forces with Michael Sinensky and Sean McGarr, along with Executive Chef Sarah Sproule. Sproule has a passion for sustainability, local produce, community dining and created Urban Sproule, New York City’s first sea salt ever produced in a salt house on a rooftop in midtown Manhattan.
On an early June night, my husband Nick and I were invited to come check out the new restaurant, which opened May 7. We had watched the great exterior transformation, from the former Village Pourhouse, to the sleeker, more upscale design, and we were looking forward to checking out how the inside and menu had changed, too.
While still resembling the former sports pub layout, the vibe was quite different. With the mix of big-screen TVs, tin ceilings, chalkboard signs, and dark walls, patrons won’t mistake this new gastropub for the former occupant. And that’s just the start.
The menu is filled with shareable, bar-food-type favorites with an artisanal twist. Seasonal and local ingredients are incorporated where possible, too. We had to resist the urge to order “one of everything and settled on the still hefty order of lobster rolls, fish tacos, meatballs, shishito peppers, kimchee buns, and cheesesteak rolls. Only one week after returning from our honeymoon, we seemed to be on a mission to leave our pre-wedding diets in the very distant past.
We both agreed the shishito peppers needed more salt, so we requested a shaker. Our waitress, instead, brought Thai chili salt, crafted by Chef Sproule herself. It was fantastic! The lobster rolls and meatballs were a bit underwhelming, but I’m still thinking about the soft kimchee buns stuffed with tender, salty brisket, and the crispy, cheesy cheesesteak rolls. And with so many more dishes yet to try, we’re looking forward to returning. (We heard the Chef is always rolling out new dishes to match the seasons and local produce.)
For those looking to the bar, you’ll find a complete list of classic cocktails, along with more inventive drinks like The Mineshaft (Jameson, Aperol, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters). For beer lovers, there will be 30+ beers on draft with seasonal specials. Should this spot look to invest more in its generic wine list – which I really hope they do, as there are so many thirsty wine drinkers in the square mile – it may become one of our frequented dinner, drinks, and sports-watching spots.
I expect great things from the Little Town Social team and hope they find long success on First Street. The last thing Hoboken needs is another post-college dive bar and the team has clearly recognized this. Little Town Social is now open and serving the more sophisticated, yet not snobby, palate. Bon appetite!
Little Town Social
205 First Street