Spring into spring with the latest edition of Jersey Bites Buzz, where Susan Bloom takes a look at some key openings around the Garden State. Have a restaurant/food outlet opening, closing, or other key development to share? Email your news to email@example.com.
American Cut Bar & Grill
495 Sylvan Avenue
Opened on February 19, the restaurant is an outpost of LDV Hospitality and Chef Marc Forgione’s critically acclaimed American Cut, ranked the #1 Steakhouse in America by FOX News/Gayot. “American Cut Bar & Grill pays homage to the original and aspirational New York dining experience—the steakhouse,” shares Angela Russo, events and marketing manager of the new location in Englewood Cliffs, which joins a previous location in Puerto Rico and soon-to-be opened locations in Manhattan and Atlanta. Open daily for lunch and dinner in a 10,000 square-foot, 200-seat multi-level space, “popular dishes include our chili lobster—lobster sautéed in a spicy sriracha butter-based sauce served with thick Texas toast—as well as the American Cut Surf & Turf for Two, a combination of our chili lobster dish and our signature Tomahawk ribeye,” Russo says. Focused on hospitality and the nostalgic glamor of yesteryear, “we’re excited to be a part of the Bergen County community,” she adds.
The Archer Bar
176 Newark Avenue
Whet your whistle in style at this whiskey-forward cocktail bar opened in early November 2015. “We’re a classic cocktail bar with vintage appeal,” says Kent Baker, who co-owns the venture with Jesse Weeks. In addition to an ever-changing cocktail program overseen by head bartender and seasoned veteran Natalie Jacob, the 50-seat outlet also features a small plate menu which specializes in game such as elk, venison, and boar creatively crafted into such dishes as wild boar sloppy joes and elk meatball sliders. With its trendy menu, comprehensive spirit list, and ability to prepare off-menu cocktails, Baker says, “We’re an intimate setting that’s particularly great for socializing in small groups.”
480 Bloomfield Avenue
Burger fans welcomed the February 29 opening of Bareburger, the newest addition to the 28-location national/international chain that features organic and all-natural burgers, snacks, and more. Along with its popular Buckaroo Burger—a grass-fed beef burger topped with shredded beef brisket, wild mushrooms, smoked barbeque sauce, and cheddar cheese, Manager Angela DeMaio says, “We also offer burgers made from bison, elk, wild boar, turkey, and chicken as well as salads and ‘crops,’ which are salads featuring a collection of vegetables instead of greens.” The upscale 80+-seat eatery also features veggie burgers, fried chicken, and signature dipping sauces “and we’re super kid-friendly, too,” she says. “We’re all about locally sourced, organic, and all-natural ingredients and offer a fun and relaxing experience that represents something new for many people.”
270 Grand Street
For a fresh new Turkish-inspired dining experience, tuck into Dolma, which opened last year but has recently revamped both its dinner menu and operations to include brunch on Saturday and Sunday and potentially lunch service this spring. Among its signature dishes are lamb chops served Turkish style (with spices such as thyme and fenugreek), stuffed sardines wrapped in vine leaves, grilled salmon with North African charmoula sauce (featuring parsley and cilantro), and such authentic appetizers as stuffed grape leaves, grilled octopus, hummus with sunflower seeds and berbere, babaganoush, and roasted red bell pepper dip with pomegranate molasses and walnuts. At the cozy, 22-seat location decorated with reclaimed wood and Moroccan tiles, owner Vecdi Bilgin says, “We’re very different from other restaurants in Jersey City and know that guests will enjoy our Eastern Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary interpretation.”
Fat Fish Taco
291 Bloomfield Avenue
Opened on March 8 by chef/owner and French Culinary Institute graduate Stephen Benyo, Fat Fish Taco is a welcome addition to town for those looking for “relaxed, coastal Mexican cuisine with a Jersey shore vibe,” he says. From a variety of fish tacos incorporating grilled mahi, blackened sole, spicy shrimp, and beer-battered cod (offered in the eatery’s popular ‘Baja Taco’) to familiar favorites like carne asada and quesadillas and decadent desserts like maduro caramel bread pudding (made with ripened plantains), Benyo says, “We’re all about fresh, simple, and relaxed food.” At the fully renovated 40-seat BYOB, guests will also enjoy refreshing south of the border-inspired “mocktails” such as the popular watermelon-mango combination.
The Habit Burger Grill
178 Route 35 South
Opened on December 9, 2015, this fast-casual chain with locations nationwide shows respect for burgers by customizing them to diners’ preferences. Among its biggest sellers are the mushroom swiss burger, the Double Charburger, and the Santa Barbara, a double burger topped with avocado. “People love burgers because they can eat them with their hands,” says order taker Dennis Cook, but menu options aren’t limited to burgers—the caprese chicken sandwich served on grilled herbed sourdough with mozzarella cheese and basil pesto is a guest favorite. “Our atmosphere is very nice and we do everything we can for our customers,” Cook says.
The Kitchen Step
500 Jersey Avenue
Opened on February 18 on the former site of popular restaurant 30 Acres, Kenneth Rosado, Kitchen Step’s general manager describes the new 48-seat eatery as “a casual neighborhood bistro featuring modern American cuisine with a French influence.” Once there, dig into such signature dishes as polenta fries served with a mustard-seed cheddar fondue, kale Caesar salad with mint, Beemster-brand gourmet gouda from The Netherlands served with barley and candied walnuts, and ricotta gnocchi with ratatouille and smoked sea salt. “We know that 30 Acres had quite a following and that we’re in an area with a thriving foodie scene and we’re excited to be here,” shares Rosado, who adds that the Kitchen Step also offers a small but esoteric wine list and cocktail program and serves brunch on both Saturday and Sunday.
251 Pascack Road
Opened in late October 2015 by owner Erika Bodak, this 60-seat BYOB offers continental fare including steak, pork, chicken, seafood, and pasta dishes. Among its signature selections are such entrées as baby lamb chops and sweet or hot Hungarian sausage with sautéed onions, peppers, and broccoli rabe as well as popular appetizers including grilled calamari and the restaurant’s Avocado Marquee, which features avocado, red onion, tomato, and jumbo shrimp served with a white lemon Dijon dressing. Amid quaint brick décor and cozy yellow tables, “we have so many delicious things on our menu and diners love them all,” says waiter Ardien Maloku.
The Olive & the Stone
58 Main Street
Opened for the holiday season in 2015 and just reopened this month following a brief winter hiatus, the Olive & the Stone brings a premium olive oil and vinegar tasting bar to the heart of Chester care of husband-and-wife owners John and Lori Tumminello. While this independent shop’s offerings will change seasonally, “we always have a minimum of 50 different oils and vinegars available for tasting, including such popular options as a Tuscan herb olive oil infused with rosemary, oregano, and garlic as well as black cherry dark balsamic and dark chocolate dark balsamic vinegar,” Lori says. “With our range of items on display, from sweet to savory, there’s something for every palate,” she adds. “These are delicious and very healthy products that are free of coloring, preservatives, and GMOs and we’re excited for people to experience all of the different possibilities and to help educate them on making the best choices.”
104 Walnut Street
Opened in early December 2015, the Spot features “all-American comfort food made from scratch,” says owner Cassie Fishkin, who also owns Mexican/BBQ restaurant Tinga Taqueria in Millburn. From the Spot’s beef chili, tangy wings, hand-cut fries, and white truffle mac ‘n cheese to its cheddar BLTs (CBLTs), southwest salad, and signature Spot Burger—an eight-ounce short-rib burger topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach, and Gruyere cheese—“all of the recipes here are my concept,” Fishkin says, “and nearly every item is available in a gluten-free option.” The 65-seat casual, family-friendly, BYOB restaurant also features breakfast options all day.
21 North Union Avenue
Opened in early December 2015, this 70-seat BYOB features the best in “New American cuisine with a French flare,” says chef Walaa Elsawi. Signature appetizers include the caramelized brie and arugula salad, goat cheese ravioli, and small plates featuring escargot, seared foie gras, and artisan cheese, while popular entrées include rack of lamb, scallops and shrimp with seasonal vegetables, duck magret, and seared ahi tuna with grilled vegetables. “We’re a cozy, intimate restaurant where diners can feel comfortable taking their time,” Elsawi says.