Openings and Closings

Looking for a new restaurant to try? If you dine at any of these new spots, let me know. If you hear of a restaurant opening or closing e-mail me at [email protected].

Small is BIG: Tapas restaurants have become very popular in New Jersey. A few that come to mind are: Cravings Tapas Bistro (Ridgewood); Xuntas Tapas Espana, (Caldwell); Mistral (Princeton); Lola’s Tapas Bar (Hoboken); Fogo Tapas Bar (Montclair) and now 100 Steps (Cranford), which opened in January.

Expect the unexpected here. Paprika, cumin-and-fennel olive-oil dipping sauce served with a salt-topped baguette from Tom Cat Bakery was but one example of the diverse food combinations offered. A plate painted with whipped egg yolk was a base for onion-miso puree served with grilled charred octopus and warm chicory salad; a visually and flavorfully appealing dish. Attention to detail was evident throughout our dinner with silverware replaced between courses, tables crumbed, and an efficient and knowledgeable waitstaff, which all added to the most pleasant experience.

Grilled charred octopus and warm chicory salad.

A tapas-style menu with all dishes basically the same size is offered along with a selection of cheeses, salumi, raw seafood and a grand seafood tower. Two or three dishes per person are recommended. Along with the octopus we had a rabbit ragu with triangular, white-bean ravioli, crispy coppa and shavings of Parmesan in a rich broth; a very satisfying dish. Slices of avocado lined a colorful kale and mizuna salad, with red onion, shaved carrot, smoked feta, dill and a toasted, sesame seed vinaigrette; a light starter. Our favorite was house-made kimchi, which served as a base for duck-leg confit topped with a sunnyside-up egg with a bright-yellow yolk. The plate was dotted with scallion creme fraiche, providing even more color, taste and texture. A cap of bittersweet orange marmalade cut the sweetness from the toffee pudding and the salted-caramel budino had a custardy consistency and was accompanied by two brown-sugar cookies. We passed on coffee, but as with all of the best of the best ingredients used here, the coffee is from Small World Roasters in Princeton and served in a French press pot. The tea is from Serendipitea, NY.

Kale and mizuna salad.

If you want more heat on any of your dishes or on the seafood, a bottle of housemade Jack’s Run Garden 2013 Hot Sauce is on the table. Jack’s Run Garden is a 1/4 acre kitchen farm in Cranford, where owner Andrea Carbine grows fruits, veggies, herbs and greens for both A Toute Heure (100 steps across the street) and 100 Steps.

House-made kimchi, duck-leg confit and a sunnyside-up egg.

This was a press dinner, so when we were finished we said hello to the executive chef Kara Decker and her staff. Seeing their tats, we asked them for pics.

When I asked Andrea if the restaurant was really 100 steps away from A Toute Heure, which is across the street, she said, “my hundred steps.” Whether that is true or not, it would be a hard choice as to the route to take when deciding which restaurant to dine at. Both are now favorites.

100 Steps Supper Club + Raw Bar
215 Centennial Avenue

Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Another frozen yogurt place has opened: 16 Handles, 455 Newman Springs Road, Marlboro (732-526-4190).

Everything Thai is on the menu at Aura Thai Kitchen, 210 Main Street, Fort Lee (201 944-0009); BYO. Open daily.

Bento Express, offering salads, stir-fried noodles, sushi and bento, has opened at 41 North Avenue E, Cranford (908-272-8098).

Brooklyn Grill is open for lunch and dinner at 388 Rt 46, South Hackensack (201-440-0095). A casual family-friendly restaurant offering freshly made burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, it also has an expanded dinner menu with options such as stuffed flounder, NY strip, fried chicken and linguini in clam sauce.

Dim sum is featured at the newly opened Canton Palace, 216 Main Street, Somerville (908-526-7244). Instead of carts choices are marked on a sheet. Other dishes include stuffed eggplant, beef tripe, dumplings, fish in chile sauce, as well as the staples found in Chinese restaurants such as chow fun and sautéed vegetables.

El Mariachi San Lucas Mexican Cuisine, 118 White Horse Road, Voorhees, (856-784-3800), has opened up under the direction of chef Marianne Cuneo-Powell previous owner of A Little Café in Voorhees (which closed in February) and her previous sous chef Anna Ramos. The BYO restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, offering salads, quesadillas, tacos, burritos and other Mexican specialties such as chiles rellenos; pollo Mexicano; duck mole; and pork chop with spicy apples Chipotle glace.

Goods & Greens at Hamilton Park, a produce and prepared foods market has opened at 29 McWilliams Place, Jersey City (201-855-6767). The space was previously Doco Market. The store also has a CSA agreement with Veritas Farms, New Paltz, NY. Open daily.

Joyce Chinese Cuisine, offering Szechuan style food, has opened at 478 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge (201-261-8858) BYO.

Masala Kitchen Express, 14 Rt 9 N, Morganville (732-617-7860); BYO.

O’Lala Empanadas
, Communipaw 600 Avenue, Jersey City (201-360-3546).

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is now being served at Shore Points Coastal BBQ, 816 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach (732-899-7427).

Food shoppers at the Whole Foods, 300 Bergen Town Center, Paramus (201-226-1244), have a new option for lunch with the opening of Wok Street, offering sushi, Japanese food, rice and noodle bowls.


Acappello Montclair has closed. Watch for the opening in this location of Xocolatz, which has a sister restaurant is in Westfield.

Josh’s Coastal Chaos, formerly at 816 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach has closed. The Poached Pear, a contemporary American Bistro, is due to open in this location in a few months.

Little Charm Thai Kitchen
in Fort Lee has closed and Aura Thai Kitchen has taken the space.
Please send press releases and restaurant news, including information on staff changes, wine tastings, and cooking classes, to [email protected].

Read more Table Hopping articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown