Café de Royal Opens in Ridgewood

Plus: Other restaurants in the works in Newark, Hackensack, Warren and Collingswood.

Photo courtesy of Café de Royal.


—Starting early in October, Café de Royal added to the buttery warm Frenchness of Ridgewood’s pastry and baking scene with a bevvy of cakes, crepes, souffles, and, of course, croissants. The fare at Café de Royal is golden and buttery, but not all strictly French, with chef/owner Emil Freeman offering some of his family’s Russian heritage by way of special cakes and dainties. Among other offerings are souffles (they’re quickly developing a reputation for them), sweet and savory crepes, chocolate honey cake, strawberry croissants, that requisite and beautiful rainbow of petit French macarons, and a bevvy of pristine, gem-like pastries and desserts. Definitely a spot to stock up on holiday treats to wow company. Open in the former space of Carlo’s Bakery from 7am to 9pm on weekdays (9am on weekends). Café de Royal, 12 Wilsey Square, Ridgewood; 201-857-8855

In the Works:

—Newark is getting a state of Kenyan cuisine with the coming opening of Swahili Village Bar and Grill at the sleek, NJPAC-proximate apartment complex One Theater Square. The second outpost of a restaurant with its first location in Beltsville, Maryland (proximity to D.C. means a lot of internationalism and even a few dignitaries, i.e. the Kenyan Ambassador to the United States was at the restaurant’s grand opening in 2016), the space promises to bring a lot of rich East African flavors to the Newark Area dining scene: cold-weather-perfect dishes like Kuku Curry (slow-cooked seasoned chicken); Supu (slow-cooked spicy goat soup); Samaki Wa Mchuzi (deep-fried seasoned whole tilapia drenched in Masala sauce); Ndengu (lentil coconut stew); and sides like Pilau, Sukuma Wiki (collard greens), and Chapati (whole wheat flat bread). No word yet on an exact opening date, but it’s definitely weeks and not days. But we’ll keep an eye out. Swahili Village Bar and Grill, 2 Center Street, Newark; no phone yet.

True Food Kitchen is coming to the Shops at Riverside in Hackensack in the spring of 2020—which yes, seems really far away but really, really isn’t. The health food restaurant’s menu is based on the anti-inflammatory nutritive guidelines of Dr. Andrew Weil (you might recognize him and/or his beard). And considering the chain’s success—they’ve got locations from San Francisco and Las Vegas to Chicago, southern Florida, and Nashville—the new spot is worth keeping on your radar. It’s Jersey’s first True Food Kitchen, and the menus will suit anyone looking for contemporary healthy options—grain bowls, kale salad, lots of plant-based items, Mediterranean flavors, you name it. Of course don’t start salivating just yet. It’s not spring just yet. True Food Kitchen, The Shops at Riverside, Hackensack; no phone yet.

—Lucky for us, two friends—two chef friends—are set to open a unique, chef-driven market concept in Collingswood just in time for the holiday season (okay, a bit late—they’re slated to open around mid-December). Whether they’re successful is another story—the space it’s taking over was the short-lived sight of McFarlan’s Market—but once it opens, it should find a rapt audience among food lovers. Chefs Joe Muldoon and James Liuzza want the market to straddle the gap between chef-driven restaurants and gourmet (and aspirationally gourmet) grocery stores (e.g. high-end grocery items, deli, to-go meals and, eventually, catering). Keep your eyes peeled at 741 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood; no phone yet.

TAP European Gastropub is slated to open in early 2020 as part of the debut of the Somerset Hills Hotel in Warren. A revival of the older Somerset Hills, opened in 1987, the newly renovated 118-room hotel and event space will veer decidedly “boutique. The gastropub (called “TAP” in homage to the former on-site restaurant The Tap Room) will follow through with foodie touches, craft beers flowing among its 20 lines, and a warm, quaint vibe pervading (perfect considering it’s opening in January). TAP Gastropub, 200 Liberty Corner Road, Warren; no phone yet.

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