—After years of success in Tribeca, restaurateur Inder Singh is bringing Benares across the Hudson to Bergen County. The new Benares is located in the Boulder Run shopping center in Wyckoff (in the former home of Indian restaurant Saffron). Like its Manhattan forebear, this Benares will showcase the vegetarian specialties of Utter Pradesh (the western Indian state where the city of Benares is located). But the menu won’t stop with regional hits—chef Mangal Singh is overseeing a menu chock full of modern and traditional takes on tandoori, meat, seafood, rice dishes and more. Benares, 2051, 327 Franklin Avenue, Wyckoff; 201-904-2222
—After a few weeks of serious renovation, Reyla is reopening to the public this Thursday, May 9. “We always wanted an open kitchen at Reyla,” says Pat Pipi of Culture Collective, the hospitality group behind Barrio Costero and Reyla and a forthcoming project (see below). Time constraints and construction issues meant it wasn’t possible when they first opened Reyla, but “now that time has passed, we wanted to create that original vision,” says Pipi. (For a sneak peek, see a recent Instagram post of the near-finished kitchen.) “The idea behind Reyla is coming into somebody’s home; it’s inviting, there are no walls between the people and the food and the guests, similar to what we have at Barrio Costero.” Beyond that sense of openness, the newly renovated space will have a 12-seat chef’s counter, and the interior itself will be slightly changed. “Some of the walls came down, and we’re adding more seats, booth seats, to keep the refined-yet-casual feel.” As a finishing touch, local Asbury Park muralist Porkchop is doing the front vestibule. (He’s done work for Culture Collective at Barrio Costero as well.) Once Reyla reopens, they’ll continue their shared plates menu and the Four Bites concept, but the chef’s counter marks a significant shift, allowing for “more culinary experiences, classes, different chef’s tastings,” says Pipi. This Thursday, the restaurant will be opening with a late spring/early summer menu and a new cocktail list. Reyla, 603 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-455-8333
—Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, a new night spot is rolling into the Ocean Casino in Atlantic City on Memorial Day Weekend. There’s no name attached to it yet, but a 1920s speakeasy-style concept is set to debut in the space currently occupied by Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub. Royal Jelly will continue providing entertainment on weekends until the new concept debuts. Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub, 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City; 609-225-4458
In the Works:
–Culture Collective has another, sort-of-attached concept opening later, closer to early summer, though incidentally located directly below Reyla. The new space will be a 40-person cocktail lounge, “kind of like an evolving cocktail party,” says Culture Collective’s Pat Pipi. The lounge will have a 10-person bar with “casual sitting areas where the guests will be served by bartenders rather than going up to the bar and waiting.” The bar concept is even more unique: Pipi describes it as “almost like a concert schedule, consistently changing—the bartenders, the ingredients they’re using.” Not that the menu will be in constant flux: “There will be static lists, 60 to 70 percent of the drinks will be the same all the time,” he says, and the rest of the menu will change with periodically cycling bartenders from Barrio Costero and Reyla (Culture Collective’s beverage director Jamie Dodge and Pipi himself will kick things off.) Despite being in a basement, Pipi assures us the new spot is “not going to be a cliched speakeasy. We’re avoiding speakeasy at all costs.” And the interior will look less Prohibition-era and more concert-venue: “The aesthetics are similar to if you were in a music studio. It’s going have some really interesting textures to it. There will be a bit of food on offer—“an elevated snack list”—says Pipi, who expects the spot to open this summer.
—The founder of Mack’s Pizza in Wildwood recently passed away. Joe Mack, 91, opened the spot with his father Anthony Mackrone and brother Duke in 1953. The restaurant quickly became a beloved mainstay of the Wildwood Boardwalk and Joe Mack became a kind of boardwalk icon in his own right. The restaurant announced Mack’s passing with a Facebook post on May 1.Click here to leave a comment