Teriyaki Madness Arrives in Rockaway, NJ


This is madness!

No, this is Teriyaki Madness.

Please, don’t kick this messenger down the well, Spartan. Hold up and listen to a tale about one specific taste profile that became the basis of an entire restaurant concept. 

The Rockaway Town Plaza location of Teriyaki Madness opened in November 2023. Built around options prepared in a sweet, salty, and (sometimes) spicy glaze. And this fast-casual concept includes a mad dedication to quality ingredients.

On the Teriyaki Madness Menu

Bowls, bowls, and more bowls. As the manifesto for Teriyaki Madness reads: “It takes big bowls to make something this awesome!”

That something—for many customers—is the chicken teriyaki bowl.

“My favorite also happens to be the number-one selling dish,” said the Rockaway, NJ, Teriyaki Madness operating partner, Tony Santarelli. 

Chicken teriyaki bowl

“In the chicken teriyaki bowl, you have the choice of thigh or breast,” he said. “For me, thigh is more flavorful. And we make really good fried rice. So, you can get that bowl with fried rice. Sometimes I get a side of the ‘Mad Spicy’ sauce and that brings some thunder. I just stick the edge of my fork in it, and that quenches my need for heat.” 

Santarelli is the operating partner of the Rockaway, NJ, Teriyaki Madness location. He’s so stoked on the Madness that he’s signed on for four more locations in the Garden State. Today, though, Santarelli is focused on pleasing the audience dining at his Rockaway Mall location. 

Crab Rangoon

Most commonly, meals at Teriyaki Madness go just like Santarelli suggested. If a customer orders a chicken teriyaki bowl, they might also grab a fountain soda, an appetizer—maybe an egg roll, potstickers, or crab rangoon—and perhaps even a chocolate cookie for the road.

When customers aren’t set on the chicken teriyaki bowl or the spicy chicken teriyaki bowl, they might be trying the orange chicken or the steak teriyaki. 

“Your typical bowl is white or brown rice, a veggie mix that contains broccoli, zucchini, carrots, onions, cabbage, and then a protein like chicken,” explained Santarelli. “And the sauce changes things up a little bit. Plus, you can customize it with fried rice or noodles as base. Typically, people elect for a bowl and side, as well as a drink.”

Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free Possibilities

The audience has grown as word has spread about the quick, healthy, made-to-order food at Teriyaki Madness. You can order takeout or delivery, or sit down to eat in the restaurant.

Customers looking for vegan, vegetarian, and/or gluten-free food choices will find options available at Teriyaki Madness. “It’s great for multiple audiences,” said Santarelli. “It was very appealing to us because the menu is slanted toward gluten free—which is something my wife and I seek when we go out dining as well. And there are options for no meat—we have tofu, and we have salmon.” 

Tofu bowl at Teriyaki Madness

It’s All in the Prep

Endless rice and chicken bowls are what dreams are made of for so many health-conscious diners.

“I would say that the key thing for us in the franchise world is that our food comes out hot and made-to-order, and we prep every day,” said Santarelli, about the business’s operating habits.

“For example, the heads of cabbage and the broccoli are fresh. We slice fresh veggies all day, so they are ready for guests. Nothing is pre-cooked and held under a heat lamp. The first thing customers see is our grill section where we’re cooking proteins all day.”

Salmon bowl

From the Business Side

The Teriyaki Madness in Rockaway is the first of five new NJ locations to be managed by Santarelli, who has managed multiple Dunkin Donuts franchises.

Santarelli said he fell in love with the Teriyaki Madness concept because it was a step above fast food with the cook-to-order promise, and had dine-in and takeout options, while still offering quick service.

Teriyaki Madness differs from other concepts like Bubbakoos or Chipotle because “those brands are scoop and go, the food is pre-made and down the line customers are building the product, and the food is instant,” explained Santarelli.

“We’re doing fresh cooking at that exact moment,” he continued. “Customers sit and get a table, or get delivery and we bring it out, to-go, and bag it up. The differentiation there is we have customers that order fresh-cooked and assembled food—nothing has been there since 8 a.m. Even still, there’s an eight-minute speed-of-service expectation, and if you ordered ahead, it should be ready when you get here.” 

There’s an App for That

Teriyaki Madness also provides ordering for curbside pickup through its app, what they call: “Mad Dash.” “It’s essentially drive thru without the drive thru,” said Santarelli. “Customers order ahead, we see on our iPad the progress of their vehicle coming, and we take the order to their car at the curb. Just download the app and select ‘curbside’ for the Mad Dash experience.”

It’s not just dine-in or takeout either. Teriyaki Madness also offers catering to office employees as well as residents in the area who need food for an off-premise event. 

“We have a large office population here as well as medical reps and pharma employees, so we’ll do catered lunches or meetings,” said Santarelli. “The quality of the food speaks for itself. There are varieties so most people wouldn’t veto the food. And we don’t just dump it off on the counter, we take pride on setting it up with labels, utensils, plates, and such.”

It’s a Draw

Overall, Santarelli is betting that New Jersey residents are underserved when it comes to teriyaki-style food.

“I went in on Teriyaki Madness with a partner of mine, and we kind of joined forces because we loved the fresh-cooked food, the very small freezer space, the daily vegetable prep, and the cook-to-order model,” said Santarelli. “It’s a blend of sit down and quick serve where customers can get fresh food in a relatively short period of time. Plus, it’s a taste profile of the food we loved.” 

Ultimately, Santarelli was sold on Teriyaki Madness when the food quality and taste met his expectations for how a franchise restaurant should operate. So, keep an eye out for more locations across the state.

Teriyaki Madness
395 Mount Hope Avenue, #600
Rockaway, NJ