Susan Bloom is back with the latest restaurant openings in the Garden State! Have a restaurant/food outlet opening, closing, or other key development to share? Email your news to [email protected].
57 Main at the Oldwick General Store
Scott Cutaneo, executive chef and owner (whose previous ventures included Equus and Le Petite Chateau in Bernardsville), opened 57 Main at the Oldwick General Store on December 1. “We offer American ingredients cooked in the French technique,” Cutaneo says of such menu items as his French cut (bone-in) chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms and chicken liver and served on braised Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. In the rustic and historic three-room setting, Cutaneo uses sous vide techniques and experiments with molecular gastronomy—as reflected in such dishes as his mushroom cappuccino appetizer, which features wild mushrooms that are dried, puréed, and served with hot milk foam and porcini powder. “It’s about how the food is nurtured,” he explains. “We’re an iconic place where people meet and greet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We want our guests to leave saying it was the best experience they ever had, but we never rest on our laurels.”
Aumm Aumm Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Translating to “hush hush” in the Neapolitan dialect, this 50-seat restaurant, which opened in early November, is no longer the area’s best-kept secret. “Our unique brick oven was custom-made in Naples and our pizza chef is a native of Naples who’s skilled in the authentic Neapolitan way of making pizza, using yeast-free dough that naturally ferments by its own salt,” says Giovanni Marino, general manager. In addition to the popular Contadina Pizza—a white pizza topped with diced cherry tomatoes, arugula, fresh-sliced prosciutto, and shaved Parmigiana cheese—“we offer fresh fish specials daily as well as homemade meatballs, pasta dishes, and over 102 wines by the bottle and 60 by the glass,” Marino says. “People are happy that we’ve opened in the neighborhood and we’ve had a great turnout every night of the week.”
Dark Side of the Moo Café
52 Bowers Street
While there are certainly more conventional salads, burgers, and sandwiches featuring familiar chicken and beef on Dark Side’s menu, this popular food truck, which opened its new brick-and-mortar outlet in mid-December, recommends that diners take a walk on the wild side. “Yak and camel sandwiches are among our best sellers, as are menu items featuring other exotic meats such as elk, emu, bison, kangaroo, boar, crocodile, and alligator,” says Chef Luke Lalchan, who adds that a camel burger (priced at just over $10) or an alligator sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich are great ways to ease into ‘the game.’ “Customers are really demanding and enjoying these exotic meats and we promise that if you eat a kangaroo, you’ll get a kick out of it,” Lalchan jokes.
Essex Junction Craft Bar & Kitchen
90 Washington Street
Opened during the last week of January, this 200-seat, over-4,000-square-foot gastropub offers 40 craft beers and 16 taps featuring four rotating local beers, not to mention a broad range of tempting salads, sandwiches, and large plates such as manchego-crusted cod, bone-in rib steak, and southern fried chicken. “Our goal is to make people comfortable and happy,” shares CEO and partner Jeremy Goldberg, a North Caldwell native, CIA graduate, and noted three-star Miami restaurateur of the new venture. With its two interior walls painted with local historical references by noted Brooklyn-based muralist Nicholas Forker, “We’re a neighborhood joint with great shareable plates and as well as a relaxed meeting place for people to come hang out with friends and family,” Goldberg says. Learn more about Essex Junction here!
115 Easton Avenue
This fast-casual bakery, sandwich shop, and caterer opened in the heart of the Rutgers University district on November 13. “Everything is made from scratch, from our sandwiches to our bread and full line of bakery items made by a Johnson & Wales-trained pastry chef,” says Jonathon Guarino, a 2010 Rutgers graduate as well as a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, who co-owns the establishment with Robin Varga. According to Guarino, signature bakery items at Fritz’s include its salted caramel blondies and red velvet sandwich cookies, while savory favorites include their grilled cheese and tomato soup special (priced under $10) as well as their burgers, fried chicken, Tuscan chicken sandwich, mac and cheese, and Fiesta Quinoa Bowl. “I’m excited to have opened this business in my hometown and we’re very happy with the response so far,” Guarino says.
Genji’s Ramen Bar (at Edgewater Whole Foods)
905 River Road
113 Route 9 (at Marlboro Whole Foods)
Providing sushi to over 165 Whole Foods locations throughout the U.S., Gengi’s newest concept—in-store ramen noodle bars—was launched in Whole Foods stores in Edgewater and Marlboro in December (and join a previously opened third New Jersey location in Cherry Hill). “These kiosks provide access to Genji’s authentic Japanese ramen noodle dishes served with pork or vegetable broth, all-natural ingredients including seaweed, scallions, bean sprouts, and ginger, and a choice of flavors including shoyu or spicy miso,” shares Breslow Partners and Genji spokesperson Jon Arons. A fresh and tasty grab-and-go option selling for $8.99-$11.99 at these Whole Foods kiosks, “ramen is one of the most popular foods in Japan and it’s a trend that’s emerging here,” Arons says. “Genji has opened six ramen bars within Whole Foods stores nationwide to-date and hopes to open more.”
247 10th Street
Opened during the last weekend of January, Hamilton Pork offers a menu of brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey, short rib, and lamb belly smoked on the premises as well as a variety of hearty side dishes and is part of the adjacent Hamilton Inn, which features upscale American fare. The new venture is headed up by Jon Vitiello, former sous chef at nearby Jersey City bistro Thirty Acres, which closed in November.
House of Que
340 Sinatra Drive
Opened on December 4, this authentic Texas BBQ restaurant features such specialties as sausage, chicken, pork shoulder, pork ribs, and brisket smoked for 12 hours in a large onsite smoker infused with oak, cherry, and hickory wood accents as well as authentic pecan pie, peach cobbler, and sweet corn pudding that can be enjoyed as a side dish or dessert. Along with a special cafeteria-style ordering process through which diners can see and sample all of their options on line before making their selection (and purchasing as little or as much as they want by the pound), the over-140-seat restaurant “has communal picnic table seating and features glass garage door walls that we’ll open in the warmer weather to offer great people-watching opportunities and views of the skyline,” says Willough Herrick, House of Que’s media director. “We have a great, friendly atmosphere and our food smells and tastes amazing.”
Kings Food Markets, newly inspired
115 Hawkins Place
On January 29, Kings Food Markets in Boonton unveiled its ‘newly-inspired’ layout and expanded range of products and services, including a new mezze, olive, and soup bar and brand new ‘Inspiration Station,’ a permanent in-store chef demonstration table highlighting the creative use of different products from across the store. Founded in 1936, Kings has 25 locations throughout New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut and has refreshed 23 stores over the past three years, with work on its final two locations in Bernardsville and Short Hills to be underway soon. “Kings is always working to understand and support its customers’ ever-changing needs and we’re so proud to be part of this 80-year-young organization,” says Kings Food Markets chairman and CEO Judy Spires.
Sorellina Kitchen & Wine Bar
1036 Washington Street
Opened on January 18, this addition to Hoboken’s culinary community was launched by owner Gabi Lombardi, a Morris County native who began her career in the industry working at Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties in Point Pleasant during college and said she always wanted to open her own restaurant. “Sorellina means ‘little sister’ in Italian, which has personal meaning to me because I’m the little sister in my family,” she said of her lively new Italian eatery and bar whose house-made pastas and shareable plates offer a modern twist on classic Italian fare. Prepared by chef Jan Christie, “our menu includes such signature dishes as grilled octopus on a skewer with soppressata and candied lemon, spaghetti and crab puttanesca, and cod cheeks with celery root ravioli, which are all unique and offer a great contrast of flavors,” Lombardi says. Located on the corner site of the former family-owned German restaurant Helmers, the 80-seat Sorellina’s features a rustic-chic decor complete with an interior brick wall, reclaimed wood tables, a tufted teal leather banquette, chandeliers, and the original bar from the 1930s. “We offer a welcoming environment that’s focused on hospitality and an elevated dining experience,” Lombardi says.
4057 Asbury Avenue
Coming this spring, New Jersey will welcome yet another craft brewery to its midst – that of Jughandle Brewery, owned by partners Pete Artherholt, Chris Hanigan, and Mike Skudera. Learn more about Jughandle Brewing here!