—Mahwah resident George Jamieson owns over a dozen cafes, restaurants, and delis in New York, Washington D.C., and Boston, but he’s finally decided to bring a taste of his restaurant acumen to his hometown, opening Novino on the town’s Ramapo Valley Road. A native of Rockland County, New York, Jamieson had owned the building (formerly a gardening center) for about four years, but encountered delays in opening. Meanwhile, he transformed the place into an approximation of a two-story Italian villa, not a bad setting for housemade pastas and the centerpiece wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. Seating is limited to about 50, but Jamieson plans on emphasizing takeout and catering as the business grows. Novino, FYI, refers to “no vino,” as in BYO. Novino, 64 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah; 201-529-1900
—In what’s quite possibly one of the fastest restaurant build-outs we’ve heard of, it only took a handful of weeks for Alban Mertkola and Tony Hoda to transform the former home of Sage in Ventnor City into their new restaurant, Aroma, a Northern Italian scratch-kitchen restaurant that’s already a local hit. If you go, you can expect a lot of hands-on attention in the coming weeks; the duo—who also operate Sapore in Ventnor—put more than a little sweat into getting the restaurant together, so expectations for payoff are high. Hoda is executive chef, overseeing a menu of house-made pastas and rustic flavors in modern proportions (as in sleek, not small). Aroma, 5206 Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor City; 609-428-6859
In the Works:
—Meemom’s might sound like an old timey, lace-curtain type of country supper joint, but the multi-location breakfast and lunch concept is closer to a contemporary, quirky hub for creative comfort foods. And they’re adding a hub, with Meemom’s about to open a third location (in addition to Wall and Middletown) at the Brick Plaza. Per a late June Instagram post, the space looks as posh and modern as a comfort kitchen can be. Menu highlights will include their famous array of creative French Toast options. In fact, pretty much anything breakfast is a safe bet at Meemom’s, though they also do lunch—challah sandwiches, wraps, paninis, and bowls, which, FYI, have zero to do with acai or health food. Slated to open in the fall. Meemom’s at Brick Plaza, 100 Cedar Bridge Avenue, Brick; no phone yet.
—Bada Bean Cawfee has been operating out of a seasonal boardwalk stall in Seaside Heights for a while now, but the Jersey-schtick coffee spot from Peter J. Pannullo and Drew Adelman is opening both a flagship location at 540 Broad Street in Newark and a year-round Shore spot at 1922 Hooper Avenue in Toms River. For those not yet in the know, Bada Bean is heavily, tongue-in-cheek Jersey, with mafia-themed sizes like “Soldier,” “Capo,” and “Boss” for small, medium, and large. (Fairly certain that’s where the mob association ends.) The menu is as broad as it is kitschy: they have protein shakes (“The Gavone”), espresso drinks (e.g. “Get Whacked” macchiato), even Nitro “Wired” Tap. No word on opening dates yet (we’re expecting an invite we can’t refuse). Bada Bean Cawfee, multiple locations.
—There’s no opening date to be on the lookout for yet, but local interest will likely stay fairly high as Atlantic City chef Michael Brennan plans to open his follow-up to Cardinal Bistro in the first half of 2020. The young chef, who closed the bistro earlier this year, has plans to return to AC with Cardinal. Clearly a continuation in the chef’s chosen trajectory—which combines Danny Meyer empire stellar hospitality and accessible, heavily creative cuisine—Cardinal will be located on New York Avenue and incorporate elements like craft (and zero alcohol) cocktails and unique design. Cardinal, New York Avenue, Atlantic City; no phone yet.Click here to leave a comment