Susan Bloom takes a look at some key openings around the Garden State this fall. Have a restaurant/food outlet opening, closing, or other key development to share? Email your news to [email protected].
578 Bloomfield Avenue
Opened on September 24, this quick-service restaurant is founded on a “build-your-own, Mediterranean-fusion concept,” according to owner Nino Homsi. “Among our most popular menu items are our chicken shawarma, grilled vegetables, shrimp or fish of the day, and our 578 Beans—a blend of chickpeas with garlic and lemon juice,” said Homsi, who noted that prices for most dishes range from $6.92 to $9.82. “Guests begin with a bottom base of rice, wheat, salad, or flat bread, add a meat, fish, or vegetable, and then select from a number of toppings, including lettuce, tomato, onion, sautéed mushrooms, and more,” he explained of the ordering process. Decorated in shades of black with light blue trim and outfitted with refurbished wood and trendy industrial lighting, “we offer friendly service and great quality food for the money,” Homsi said.
Eight & Sand Beer Co.
1003 N. Evergreen Avenue
Celebrating its grand opening with an official ribbon cutting on September 30, this craft brewery and tasting room focuses on classic and lower-alcohol European session beers. Among its nine styles currently on tap are an English Mild Ale, a Hefeweizen, a Saison, and a Pacifica hopped IPA. A hobbyist home brewer for the past 10 years, “this is a passion of ours,” shared Chris Burke, cofounder of Eight & Sand with business partner Chris Mazzone. With a cozy tasting room, relaxed backyard area, and bar accommodating a total of up to 180 people, Burke said that Eight & Sand offers a fun communal experience. “We focus on classic, flavorful beer styles that other brewers aren’t necessarily doing anymore and people love it,” said Burke, who added that while Eight & Sand doesn’t offer food, visitors are encouraged to bring their own. “We’re about hanging out, playing board games, and drinking great beer,” he said.
The Grand Tavern
1105 6th Avenue
Opened this past spring in time to capitalize on the summer dining season, The Grand Tavern takes pride in featuring ingredients from local farms, butchers, and fishermen, including fresh fluke, salmon, and other catches from Local 130 Seafood in Asbury Park. Among other popular menu items, “we’re known for our great burgers, 36-ounce, dry-aged cote de boeuf served with a bearnaise sauce and French fries, and our delicious wines,” shared Antonio Pulgaron, one of the restaurant’s floor managers. Seating up to 100 people between its interior dining room and bar and outside dining and bar areas, “we’re a rustic French tavern decorated with exposed wood beam ceilings and a leather banquette against the wall,” Pulgaron said. “Guests will enjoy our cozy and comfortable atmosphere and thoughtfully-prepared menu of dishes, all made in-house with great attention to detail. The experience we offer from beginning to end is wonderful.”
11 Bloomfield Avenue
Opened on September 22, this eatery with an upscale American menu features such items as a Beet Salad with smoked raw pit gold beets, shaved horseradish, candied pistachios, and Humboldt Fog cheese as well as a roasted Amish chicken entrée and a 40-day-old dry-aged ribeye steak. “We also offer seasonal cocktails such as our Happy Mule, made with Ketel One Orange vodka, fresh lime and pineapple juice, and ginger beer and our ‘Autumn in Vermont’ bourbon drink garnished with an apple cider ice cube,” shared Manager Paula Correri. Décor within the 122-seat tavern includes cozy red banquettes anchoring the dining room and bar area and guests will enjoy live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. “In addition to our friendly service and outstanding food, we have a vibrant and energetic atmosphere that’s casual and warm,” Correri said.
Ibby’s Mediterranean Fresh
300 Route 18
Celebrating its grand opening on October 11, Ibby’s offers all-natural, award-winning Halal recipes using healthy, farm-fresh ingredients that create a feast for the eyes and palate. “Everything is customizable,” explained cofounder Shetal Shah, a food service industry veteran and coffee master. “Our combo plate with greens or grains and a protein offers a choice from among six different chef salads and a variety of spreads including hummus, babaganoush, and Mediterranean avocado,” he said, “while our protein plate offers choices including falafel, chicken kebab, and shawarma over greens or grains.” Shetal said that Ibby’s also offers “the best coffee in the area,” including nitro brew options, a cold brew on tap featuring a delicious artisan coffee of single origin from Ethiopia, “and an American Drip that’s absolutely phenomenal,” he said. Residing in renovated space formerly occupied by Subway and seating about 45, Shetal said that customers have been very receptive to Ibby’s and enjoy the restaurant’s fresh and healthy fare.
The Taco Truck
62 Newark Street
Originally a popular food truck when it launched in 2009, The Taco Truck opened its first brick-and-mortar outlet in Hoboken in 2010 and proudly celebrated its grand reopening there on October 14, at which time it unveiled refreshed new flooring, artwork, and interior design. Among the sustainable, 20-seat outlet’s signature Mexican taqueria-inspired dishes are its Pescado Taco, featuring crispy catfish, red cabbage, pico de gallo, tartar, and chipotle salsa in a flour tortilla, Al Pastor Taco, made with marinated pork, onion, cilantro, pineapple, and fresh green salsa in a stone-ground warm corn tortilla, and Pollo Burrito, made with red rice, black beans, crema, grilled chicken, lime-pickled onion, and roasted red salsa in a flour tortilla. Following this site and other locations in Morristown and Princeton, opened in 2013 and 2014 respectively, cofounders Jason Scott and Chris Viola look forward to opening another location in King of Prussia, PA in late 2016. “We’re dedicated to providing our loyal local customers with an authentic experience and anticipate that our renovations will allow the community to continue to enjoy the high quality food and service they’ve grown to love for many years to come,” shared Scott, The Taco Truck’s CEO.
Piattino: A Neighborhood Bistro (pictured at top)
67 Union Place
Piattino: A Neighborhood Bistro, one of Mendham’s most popular restaurants (and part of the 40NORTH Restaurants family, which includes The Black Horse Tavern and The Black Horse Pub in Mendham, The Office Tavern Grill in Summit and Morristown, and George & Martha’s American Grille in Morristown), has announced that it will bring its fresh, authentic, new age Italian cuisine to the Summit dining scene this winter. Located next door to The Office Tavern Grill, Piattino’s second North Jersey restaurant location will offer guests a variety of mouthwatering antipastis, insalates, homemade pastas, and more served in a warm, chic, and cozy setting. Known for its delicious, hand-stretched Neapolitan-style pizzas and sandizzas (its own version of a panini) baked fresh at 800 degrees in its imported Italian stone-fired oven, Piattino has a reputation for using premium ingredients ranging from truffled wild mushrooms to 24-month-aged prosciutto di Parma. The restaurant will also offer a full bar, house-made cocktails, and extensive wine selections by the bottle and glass. “Piattino has been a great restaurant concept for us and with our new location in Summit, we’re looking at expanding the menu, the experience, and the brand,” shared Kevin Felice, corporate executive chef for 40NORTH Restaurants. “Summit will feature seven new menu items as well as an expansive cured meat and imported cheese section. We’re stepping up our game and making our pastas in-house, taking Piattino to another level,” he said.
395 Springfield Avenue
In early 2017, diners will enjoy the grand opening of Summit House, a new seasonal American restaurant in Summit that will feature the culinary expertise of Executive Chef Martin Kester, the former chef de cuisine at Ninety Acres in Peapack, as well as the creative cocktail program overseen by Tad Carducci, half of the renowned mixologist duo The Tippling Bros. Seating about 120 with private dining facilities for another 20 guests and featuring an open-kitchen dining room, the restaurant is set to offer “truly exceptional food in an atmosphere that guests would want to visit any day of the week,” said Dylan Baker, Summit House’s operating partner. The menu, which will source the finest ingredients at their peak of freshness from neighboring farms, fishermen, and other purveyors, will include seasonal produce, pasture-raised beef, fresh and sustainably-caught seafood, and house-made pastas as well as a raw bar featuring a daily rotating selection of East Coast oysters from cold Atlantic waters. “Our extensive craft cocktail program, beers, and wines by the glass will also evolve with the seasons in order to provide the best possible experience for our guests,” added spokesperson Mason Levinson. According to its owners, Summit House will be the first new restaurant with a liquor license to open in Summit in a decade.
All images are courtesy of the restaurants featured.