*Rustica Lounge Bar & Restaurant got the name right. The newly opened modern “American-Italian” bistro in Cliffside Park, Rustica is done up in an Art-Deco-glam-meets-cabin-chic style (thick bare wood beams stretch over the space in the glow of a sparkling chandelier). Dishes are comfy and posh, with Italian classics like burrata done up in prim, sleek plating alongside dishes like New York strip, hearty pappardelle, and flatbreads served family-style on big wooden planks. Plenty of cocktails to enjoy in the lounge space with truffle fries. Rustica, 565 Gorge Road, Cliffside Park; 201-313-0802
*Café Sophia opened on the corner of Monroe Street in Hoboken last Friday. An airy space about 10 blocks from Washington Street, it’s anchored by a simple café menu with espresso, coffee, and lunch options blending Italian influence (salumi, fresh fig, mozzarella), Jersey influence (an egg sandwich called “The Sinatra”), and modern staples (avocado, sriracha mayo). Café Sophia, 200 Monroe Street, Hoboken; 201-222-0565
In the Works:
*Two big chefs are coming to Fort Lee with an equally big project. The Modern, a high-end, 47-story residential complex in development off the George Washington Bridge, will be home to ambitious 7,000 square-foot Ventanas Restaurant & Lounge, part brainchild of Jersey restaurateur Alex Duran (who also owns Son Cubano in West New York). Fort Lee resident and celebrity chef David Burke will act as culinary managing director of executive chef Ricardo Cardona of Son Cubano (formerly of restaurants like Lua and Sofrito in New York City). Ventanas’s menu will blend Cuban, Asian, and modern American influences, with the food (eventually) available to apartment residents as well as diners. A “night out” space for sure, with a sprawling interior with seating for 150 in the dining room and 50 at the bar and tapas lounge, and 100 additional seats in the outside terrace. 100 and 800 Park Avenue, Fort Lee; 844-557-3632
*An Instagram post in April revealed Mezcal Kitchen of Bayonne would open a second Hudson County location, this time in Jersey City’s Journal Square neighborhood. The second space (the first as at 482 Broadway in Bayonne) will be located near the courthouse and should open this month. Jersey City.
*Kellari Hospitality Group already has seven restaurants and it’s about to add an eighth. From Kellari group founder Stavros Aktipis comes Lefkes, slated to take over the 10,000 square foot, two story, revamped space that formerly housed the much-hyped but short-lived American Cut in Englewood Cliffs. Unlike its predecessor, which ultimately dissuaded its audience with sticker shock and an over-glitzed menu, Lefke will do squarely refined Mediterranean flavors with a farm to table sensibility. Slated to open late August. 495 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs; 201-408-4444
*Asbury Ocean Club is a 130-unit residence sitting on top of a luxury hotel, part of Asbury Park’s ongoing revitalization complete with a bar and grill which, like the residence, is still very much in the works. 1101 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park.
*Rockhill in Cherry Hill has closed. Andrew Welder, Rockhill’s owner, used to eat at Big John’s Steaks and Pizza as a kid. Eventually Big John’s closed, and Welder bought it for his own restaurant Rockhill, which is now closing in turns. For the four years it operated, Rockhill was known as much for its gluten-free friendliness as its classic milkshakes and cheesesteaks that hit the same comfortable, community vibe of its predecessor. The restaurant announced its closing on Facebook. Rockhill, 1800 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill.Click here to leave a comment