Archive for the 'kosher dining in Teaneck' Category

23
Dec
12

Nobo Wine & Grill


Teaneck’s Nobo Wine & Grill (1400 Palisade Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666, Telephone: 201.837.1000), never ceases to amaze and delight. Under the direction of Executive Chef Josh Massin (formerly of Manhattan’s Mike’s Bistro), this restaurant which we reviewed before – with a different chef and a different name, though still under the same owners – redefines the meaning of “succulent.” This past Tuesday, the incomparable Lévana, treated SYR and I to this eatery.

We started our culinary adventure by sharing three appetizers: Big Eye Tuna Nicoise

kosher-scene-copyright-copy21

Big Eye Tuna Nicoise - Olive oil poach tuna, with assorted olives, capers, hard-boiled egg, frisee, cinfit campari tomatoes, raw honey emulsion, fried bread & red wine vinegar syrup.

Big Eye Tuna Nicoise – Olive oil poach tuna, with assorted olives, capers, hard-boiled egg, frisee, cinfit campari tomatoes, raw honey emulsion, fried bread & red wine vinegar syrup.

Traditional Cassoulet

Traditional Cassoulet - Bean stew with duck confit, veal sausage, veal bacon & roasted bone marrow on the side.

Traditional Cassoulet – Bean stew with duck confit, veal sausage, veal bacon & roasted bone marrow on the side.

…and Wild Mushroom Risotto. The tuna in syrup, tasted heavenly with a subtle citrusy flavor and sides that perfectly complemented it; the cassoulet was quite reminiscent of a fine cholent, in fact Chef Josh told us that cholent (or chaud lent) was most likely based on this French delicacy. The marrow bone was – for me – a superb touch, after all as a kid I used to fight my dad for these bones. After all these years, after all the changes in palette, nothing compares to a great marrow bone. Hmm, hmm!  The risotto came with parsley puree, salamesian and white truffle oil, strongly flavored and delicious!

We then proceeded to share three mains: Boneless Braised BBQ Short Ribs

Boneless Braised BBQ short Ribs - with roasted garlic & rutabaga mash, smoky cannellini beans, leek sauce, maple syrup infused barbeque sauce.

Boneless Braised BBQ short Ribs – with roasted garlic & rutabaga mash, smoky cannellini beans, leek sauce, maple syrup infused barbeque sauce.

The short ribs, and sides, brought in a beautiful tapestry of perfectly balanced flavors and tender, juicy meat!

We then proceeded with a Crispy Skin Poached Dark Skin Meat Chicken, it consisted of smoky white wine, braised savoy cabbage, local Rusian fingerling potatoes, chicken sausage dumplings, braised leeks, red pepper aioli and garlic crouton. Incredibly flavorful with an orangey taste, and very juicy. We loved it!

But the pièce de résistance was the Butcher’s Cut Steak, not on the regular menu and not always available, it was recommended by the Chef. Cooked sous vide* it came with sauteed haricot vert and Yukon Gold potatoes. It came medium rare, it was superbly tasty, soft like butter and very juicy.

We washed it all down with Segal Merlot 2011, it was adequate without being overpowering

For dessert, in a tremendous display of self restraint, we shared a single Peanut Butter Chocolate torte, with a Lace Cookie and a Cinnamon Ice Cream. Ahhh, a perfect cap to a perfect meal!

A perfect ending!

Just the right ending!

With a very attentive, unassuming Chef, great food, superb company and just the right ambiance… who can ask for more?

CS

*Sous Vide – From the French “under vacuum.” The ingredients are slowly cooked (for as long as 72 hours) in a water bath – while sealed in airtight plastic – as a result the natural juices and flavors stayed undiluted with whatever ingredient is so cooked. The reason for this method of cooking is to cook the item evenly, without overcooking the outside as the inside gets the same amount of donenness, with all around juicier results. Meat, using this method is cooked between 131F. to 140F. Vegetables need a higher temperature.

05
Jul
10

Saddle-up for Some Fine Fixins’ at Smokey Joe’s!


You don’t have to be a Texas long-horn to enjoy this round-up of superbly smoked and southern rustic Tex Mex cuisine at Smokey Joe’s (494 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Telephone: 201.836.7427).  Décor is sun-burnt orange against ranch-rawhide woodsy panels; Marlboro manly man and stallion photos adorning the walls. Brown butcher block paper covers tables set with colorful southwestern china (don’t forget to ask Joe for doodling crayons).

A partial view of the dining area

Joe, the owner, looked for a unique niche in the market and not only found one, but honed it like an art form till it yielded a product that fills the house on a regular basis. Joe, or Yossi to his chevra, told us “Food is life; food is kodesh.” “It’s about craft and high quality. You’ve got to give it the time and attention it takes to develop.” And indeed Joe has done so. His 74” smoker (which he lovingly dubbed Dimona-2) is the nucleus of his operation, but just as important is his approach to food and business. “You’re not producing a widget or stereo; my personal commitment to making great food is a life-time journey!” “It’s also about having a good sense of hospitality when Jews come calling at your restaurant. It’s a little different than the hachnassas orchim (welcoming guests) we do at home.” Joe certainly shared that hospitality with us.

...it was hard to keep myself from reaching into that smoker... I confess...

Joe served up vittles Stephen J. Austin or Sam Houston would raise armies to fight for! The table started to fill up with outstanding home made cornbread with onion jam spread (you got to taste ‘em together to understand how awesome those flavors are together), refreshing iced tea and fresh squeezed lemon-ade and home made. Still warm tortilla chip (seriously, dangerously, addictive!) with freshly made guacamole for starters.

We were then treated to an assortment of Smokey Joe’s favorites. The Joe Dawg, the lamb merguez sausages, were marvelous; superbly smoked and flavored.

Lamb Merguez Joe Dawg

They’ve got six types to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding which to try…

We then demolished their Beef Brisket (well… really… CS did, he kindly let me have one forkful before it was gone!) – smoked for up to 14 hours. The smoked taste did not overpower the brisket taste which was rich, marvelous. In a very uncharacteristic (well you saw the pictures of those ribs, how can you blame me?) uninhibited Flinstonian way, I dug into their long ribs which had been basted in a secret BBQ rub and smoked for around 5 hours in Dimona-2. (Surely, not first date action, unless you want to provide an instant inhibitions dissolver, right from the get-go) They were meaty, packed with flavor and delicious. I literally felt the spices coming through my pores. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite smoked entrée was the chicken.

Brisket, Grilled Chicken and Sweet Potato... mmm, mmm!

I just loved the way the subtle smokey flavor worked its way into the soft flesh of the chicken resulting in a fabulous taste. We had no room for their burgers and chocolate mole sauce, which we heard are outstanding. We’ll have to come back and try those as well as some of their other popular dishes.

A great homey place to come with family and friends to chill an’ enjoy southern smokin’ Jewish hospitality.

SYR

Smokey Joe's on Urbanspoon

02
Jul
10

Royal Persian Grill


Efraim Azari, owner of Royal Persian Grill (192 West Englewood Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666; Telephone: 201-833-1555) has an inspiring personal story which explains his evolution into the kosher restaurant business.

Originally from Teheran, Efraim emigrated to Israel with his family, when he was just a child of 4. He grew up in a Tel Hashomer kibbutz. as left wing as it gets. Raised on  ideology which stipulates that religious people were untrustworthy,  superstitious and downright foolish, he focused his energies on an enlightened worldly consciousness, athletic healthy body, excelling in karate and other martial arts.

Thirteen years ago, Efraim emigrated to Miami, with his wife and youngest son, where he built a large successful business. One day, his son informed his parents of his decision to become a ba’al tshuvah. Efraim and his wife were devastated, wondering where they had failed their child; no amount of dissuasion sufficed, he couldn’t be talked out of this folly! Shortly thereafter, another stroke of bad luck befell the Azaris; Efraim severely injured his right shoulder blade. The tear required complicated surgery, the pain was unbearable, and the operation failed. A wounded, tired, exasperated Efraim traveled the world in search of a top surgeon that specialized in his injury… He found one, and scheduled a second  operation, with the hoped that this time it would be successful. His nights were sleepless, excruciatingly painful, filled with channel surfing, Arak and other potables to numb the unceasing pain.

A few short weeks prior to the operation, Efraim’s son – now married and an avreich in a Monsey kollel – invited his parents for a visit. Though his core beliefs and lifestyle hadn’t changed one iota, Efraim couldn’t help but be impressed by the size and scope of the bet knesset and Yeshivat Or Yisrael. Before leaving, his son told Efraim that the Rosh Kollel wanted to give him a bracha (blessing). Little did he know his life was about to change… for ever…

“I hear you tore your shoulder blade,” the Rabbi said. “Yes,” Efraim answered. “And your first operation was a disaster.” “Yes,” Efraim answered. “And you’ve already scheduled a second operation.” “Yes,” Efraim answered. “I have the perfect doctor for you!” said the Rabbi. “With all due respect to the Rabbi I already have a top doctor,” Efraim answered. “You don’t understand, I can recommend THE top doctor to you.” “Please Rabbi, I already scheduled my operation!” “You don’t understand, I can recommend the best specialist for you,” repeated the Rosh Kollel. Again, at the urging of his wife, Efraim acquiesced and let the Rabbi continue. “Give me two hours a day of deep study, learn and thoroughly follow this book – which I’ll give you – on the Laws of Shabbat. Follow it thoroughly, do not pick and choose what’s convenient, or sensible, just follow it thoroughly or don’t waste your time warming a chair here. If you follow everything, the Doctor will cure you.” Reluctantly and again at his wife’s urging, Efraim committed himself to this. That very night, for the first time in almost a year, Efraim slept right, soundly; no pain, no needles, no shocks!

Refreshed, the next morning, he showed up at the Yeshiva, fascinated with the new teachings – revealing a heretofore unknown, undreamed of, world and a new purpose in life. Again that night he slept well, the pain had inexplicably eased up. After a week of refreshing sleep and productive learning, Efraim began to achieve some mobility in his injured arm and shoulder; soon all pain disappeared, full mobility and the use of his arm and shoulder returned. All without surgery… Believe it or not! The Doctor had done his job!!! “I’m a stubborn man,” Efraim says, “I don’t like change, but who can argue with obvious miracles when I experienced the healing in my own flesh?” I truly understood the meaning of Ani Hashem rofecha! – I am the Lord, your Doctor!” And so, the enlightened athlete who stumbled upon the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Monsey, stayed and learned. Four years ago, still dedicating several hours a day to his learning, he opened the Royal Persian Grill.

Royal Persian Grill

What makes the Persian cuisine different from Middle Eastern cooking? At the Royal Persian Grill they use a twenty five herb combo mix, a lot of parsley, cilantro, mind lemon and garlic, not hot spicy like some Israeli dishes, rather more sweet and sour. Rice accompanies many of the selections and is cooked differently than the usual western way. It’s cooked half way, then it gets washed in cold water, finally, it’s steamed. Thus, the kernels stay separated and retain their shape gleam and taste. We sampled one of their very popular Persian dishes. Ghorme Sabzi- a thick beef stew- a Persian cholent – if you will – with rice, red beans and meat. It was earthy and filling. The second Persian favorite was Beef Bamya, a sweet and sour beef stew with okra. It wasn’t ready when we were there and we hope to sample it next time.

We started the meal with their Appetizer Salad Combo.

Appetizer Salad Combo with matbucha, hummus, Romanian eggplant, babaganoush and pikanti eggplant.

We enjoyed this dish with toasted pita covered with oil and zaatar (hyssop). All the salads, like the rest of the of the fare, are freshly made at the restaurant. This salad combo plate tasted very good!

Next, we ordered a very adequate Yemenite Meat Soup. We continued with a delicately seasoned Grilled Chicken Breast

Grilled Chicken Breast w/fries and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes

Cooked just right, it was tender and juicy, as we sipped a refreshing iced lemon/mint tea.

We finished the meal with a superb Halva Ice Cream

Halva Ice Cream. Amaaazing!

…and an excellent Baklavah. Yehudis, our waitress, made our meal an absolute delight with her friendly solicitousness. We know we’ll be back!

CS

Royal on Urbanspoon

30
Jun
10

Noah’s Ark


Smack in the middle of Cedar Lane stands Noah’s Ark (493 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ 07666; Telephone: 201.692.1200) this roomy180 ft long eatery sits 190 people comfortably. Established in 1988 by a young Noam Sokolow (who started in the food industry at the tender age of 14), it has grown from a neighborhood deli style place to the largest family Glatt Kosher restaurant in all of Jersey – boasting over 140 different items on its extensive menu.

One of the sit down areas...

Get this- 20 different types of burgers!!  So many mouthwatering choices, ranging from their Lower East Side Burger ( topped with their succulent chulent and kishka), to their Ginormous Burger (a Super-Deluxe 36ozs. mouthwatering grilled burger, topped with LTO – lettuce, tomato and onions – and a side of crispy french fries). CS and I shared their BBQ Brisket Burger, topped with slow-roasted brisket, caramelized onions and their Chef’s Special BBQ Sauce, with a side of sweet potato fries and Chipottle sauce.  A glorious, perfectly cooked, fat, juicy, oversized burger topped with melt-in-your-mouth sauce.  It was thoroughly decadent and delicious!

BBQ Brisket Burger, with sweet potato fries and Chipottle sauce

Noah’s Ark likes to do things up ‘big’. Their portion sizes are huuuuge!.  Last year, as a kick-off event for the Big Apple Games – featuring an Israeli team – they entered the Guinness Book of World records with the world’s largest matzo ball – weighing in at a hefty 267 pounds.

X-Treme Combo Sampler (a very big sized plate!)

What Noam served up for us, was comparably massive, we couldn’t begin to do it justice!  We started with their X-treme Combo Appetizer of onion rings, chicken wings and chicken fingers.   All three were great.  My family happens to love chicken nuggets and these tenders rivaled any of our favorites in Brooklyn.

Nacho Appetizer Salad

We followed with a Nacho Appetizer of chopped salad mixed with Mexican spiced chopped meat, sitting on tortilla chips topped with guacamole and pareve sour cream. I found it far above similar dishes I’ve eaten at other establishments billing themselves as Mexican…

We sampled their deli favorites of Corned Beef and Pastrami on rye.  Both were reminiscent of the old Shmulke Bernstein’s on Essex – hot, fresh, tender, great quality and well seasoned.  All we missed was the side of cole slaw and Guss’s sour pickles.

I chose their popular Large Tossed Salad with Grilled Chicken, one of the many healthy additions made to the menu as their customer base became more health conscientious.

Noam’s got a really simple modus operandi – Give the customers what they want! Though he runs a tight ship with loyal long tenured staff, he claims not to be the boss, “the customers really own the restaurant.”  Noam’s totally customer driven; “If the customers walk out happy, I’m happy!”  Noah’s Ark has evolved with its customers. They, like their consumers, are more sophisticated and health savvy. Their landmark establishment is like a gastronomic family retrospective. Entire families have grown up on this delicious comfort food; sustaining folks from Bris to nuptials. Their Dove Room, celebrating simchas/private parties holds anywhere from 40-100 people at affordable rates of $35-$45 per person.

Whether for corporate or simcha events, Noah’s Ark will deliver platters and meals right to your doorstep. And if you’re on the road, not to worry, Noah’s Ark has full portion travel meals that can be Fed Ex’ed next day to your destination anywhere in the U.S. Hours of operation are M-Th 10-10 fri- 8-4 and Sunday 9:30-10. A great place to take the family; in fact, make it a tradition!

SYR

Noah's Ark Glatt Kosher on Urbanspoon

17
Jan
10

Cutting to the Chase


Chef Chase Sanders, in a snapshot taken by one of his coworkers at The Pasta Factory

Chef Chase Sanders just wowed me! That’s all I can say. The new chef of The Pasta Factory is no stranger to the art of fine cooking, or to The Pasta Factory‘s owner Sol Kirshenbaum.

Both worked together at Levana’s where Chase got a chance to hone his skills as a kosher chef. Chase is incredibly personable, warm, generous and totally without airs. He began his career as a lowly dishwasher eight years ago and worked his way up earning each bench mark by the sweat of his brow, a passion for food that flowed through his handiwork and an uncanny positive attitude that propelled him forward. The man has vision, depth, a contagious enthusiasm, superb creativity, and a great love for his chosen profession.

Totally non-pretentious in his approach to food, Chef Chase explained: “Simple clean flavors- that’s how I like to execute my food.” He was so willing to share the specifics of what went into the dishes that tasted so extraordinary. As though talking about most favored children, he described particular fresh herbs, the cooking by taste and touch, the experimenting that goes into perfecting sauces like his béarnaise without the use of butter, creating modifications in his reduction sauces without sacrificing taste, and about adapting authentic Italian or American flavors to dishes for the kosher kitchen.

Chef Chase, in hands on style, does his own daily shopping for the latest catch in fish, “ I want to know the fish I’m serving.” And so it goes with the other fresh ingredients Chef serves at the restaurant. “I have to feel, smell and taste. I have to use my own senses to get the right mix of textures and tastes for what I prepare.” The Chef summed up his philosophy of good food when he said “Anyone can put three ingredients together, but if you put your whole heart and soul into the preparation, it comes out amazing!” “All my love comes through the knife into the sweet potato!” Well, those sweet potato fries did have that something indescribably delicious about them. That signature “love ingredient” also transmits itself to his staff, as Chef Chase makes a point of keeping everyone tight and close together – working as one to create great service each and every day. We wish him the best of luck as top chef at the Pasta Factory and look forward to see all his culinary visions comes to fruition.

SYR

05
Jan
10

The Pasta Factory


One of the greatest joys of preparing entries for The Kosher Scene blog has been meeting the talented seasoned restaurateurs and chefs along the way.  Sol Kirschenbaum, owner of The Pasta Factory (1400 Palisade Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666, Telephone: 201.837.1000) and former partner of Levana’s has just an amazingly vast knowledge of the kosher restaurant business. Sol’s also an incredible wine connoisseur; he loves his reds especially those from the lesser known Israeli wineries; his many years in the fine kosher dining business and vast experience with what makes for fine food, were just the recipe for a great evening of food talk and tasting.

It was one of those freezing, weather is frightful, 20°, teeth chattering, winter nights. Chef Chase Sanders prepared a lovely Roasted Truffle Butternut Squash with Basil soup. This creamy soup had just the right blend of sweetness and the basil overtones were delicious; and it was hot.

Appetizers followed. We split the Grilled Chicken Quesadilla, tender bites of grilled breast with tricolor salad and balsamic dressing. The combined flavors and crispness of the quesadilla were flavorful and authentic. The second appetizer was a Lamb Merguez Pizza with arugula, olives, capers and shallots drizzled with Tahina.  This dish demonstrates Chef Sanders adaptive and creative talents in executing an authentic Mediterranean dish modified to meet the strict standards of the kosher cuisine. It looked great, the tahina resembled drizzled cheese, and the combination of flavors really worked!

Grilled Chicken Quesadilla

Lamb Merguez Pizza

At some point, someone brought us two great glasses of wine. I had a Dalton Safsufa Cabernet Sauvignon, very solid and flavorful, while CS had a Herzog Selection Merlot, also quite good. At this point my feet were thawed and I was ready for the main course.

The waiter brought out a Crispy Breast of Chicken with asparagus risotto, seasoned with preserved lemon. I’m still a little floored as to how he made simple chicken taste so good, (must be that special ingredient he adds to his dishes; (see our little piece on Chef Sanders that will follow next week, if you want to find out), but it was simple and savory. The risotto was cooked to perfection and I loved the asparagus accent; gave it great flavor. CS had a fabulous Skirt Steak marinated in molasses and shallots. He reluctantly gave me piece to taste, (South Americans are so possessive with their beef), and the blend of flavors was terrific. Presentation on all our dishes was simple and elegant

Skirt Steak

I’m really dating myself here, but does anyone out there remember “Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat. Whenever he gets in a fix he reaches into his bag of tricks.”  Well… let me tell you about Pasta Factory’s dessert chef, Felix. Forget tricks, this man is a magician. His desserts taste sinfully milchigdairy…oh…the creams….the chocolate…. the mousse…the taste….oh my! We were served a flourless Triple Chocolate Cake and a dish of Butterscotch Cream. I was gonna have to pay for this with an additional forty laps in the pool next day, but it was all well worth the calories. Pastry Chef Felix’ 14 years of experience at the 4 Seasons really showed in his presentation and mouth-watering desserts.

Tricolor Chocolate Cake

The Pasta Factory has a warm brick interior, a lovely quiet ambiance suitable for family and one on one dining. They are also the only kosher restaurant in Bergen County with a liquor license. They boast a diverse, exciting menu of delicious food, and beautifully served ample portions. Enjoy. We certainly did.

SYR

Pasta Factory on Urbanspoon




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