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Il Villaggio Ristorante

11 Mar

Il Villaggio Ristorante

Rating: ★★★☆☆
651 Route 17 N, Carlstadt, NJ 0707
info@ilvillaggio.com
Website
(201) 935-7733
Price: $$$
Hours:
Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 11 pm
Sat 5 pm – 12 am
Foursquare

Very grand decor and great service, but the food is just mediocre

Il Villaggio Ristorante is located off a highway, but don’t let that fool you. This restaurant’s decor is just as nice if not more magnificent than any of the high-end restaurants you’ll find in New York City. The first thing you’ll notice when pulling up to this restaurant is its grand entrance, you fell like you are walking into a palace of some sort. The host and waiters are very knowledgeable and attentive. If you are an inexperience diner, feel free to ask for recommendations and pairing suggestion. In my experience, the waiters are very honest and they don’t try to up-sell. Do expect a little wait, even with reservations. This place gets very busy, especially during the holidays. The bar is a good place to chill while you wait for a seat.

Now on to the food. As nice as this restaurant looks and as great as the service is, the food fails to excite. They specialize in authentic northern Italian dishes but everything was way too salty and I couldn’t taste any of those Italian flavors that I love. The scallops on both my pasta and risotto dish were also overcooked. Go for the grand decor not the food, they don’t have the total package!

Il Villaggio Ristorante

French Onion Soup Gratinee
French Onion Soup Gratinee – $5.50

Il Villaggio Ristorante
Broccoli di Rabe – $6.95

Il Villaggio Ristorante

Il Villaggio Ristorante

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Fruits Gelateria

10 Mar

This venue is closed.

Fruits Gelateria

Rating: ★★★☆☆
322 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 944-5150
Price: $
Hours:
Mon-Sun 11 am – 12 am
Facebook // Foursquare

Pricy self-serve “Pinkberry style” fro-yo

Fruits Gelateria was one of the first fro-yo joints on Broad Avenue and for some time, was my favorite, that is until they instituted the self-serve model and made their fro-yo so much more pricy than their competitors. Average medium plain frozen yogurt with no toppings will set you back $6-8 bucks, so not only do you have to make it yourself, but you also pay more. Their frozen yogurt is very similar to Pinkberry, not very creamy and a bit tangy. Their gelatos are a hit or miss. On some occasions they are nice and fresh and on others they taste as if it has been sitting there for years. They also offer shaved ice, cakes, bubble tea, coffee, soup, and sandwiches – none of which are at the very least appealing.

What is appealing about Fruits Gelateria is their decor. They have comfy couches, a mezzanine section with large table to do work, and an outdoor patio – all with free WiFi. And remember to bring cash, they only accept credit cards for purchases over $10.

Fruits Gelateria Froyo
Frozen Yogurt – Plain

Fruits Gelateria Froyo Machine

Fruits Gelateria Counter

Fruits Gelateria Seating

Batten Ramen

8 Mar

Batten Ramen

Rating: ★★★★☆
12024 Center Ave, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
(201) 461-5465
Price: $$
Hours:
Mon-Sun 11:30 am – 10 pm
Foursquare

Nothing spectacular, decent ramen and good katsu curry

Batten Ramen is an authentic Japanese ramen house that has been around for while. It is located in the Oaktree Center and has the small and cozy feeling you would come to expect from a ramen house in Japan. There’s a shelf of mangas (Japanese graphic novels) and Japanese magazines for you to read while you wait or eat. Both the chef and waiting staff are very attentive and you are always greeted when you enter and leave the restaurant.

The food was not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s decent. The gyoza was crispy on the bottom with a good balance between filling and skin. The tonkatsu (pork) ramen, which they call the Batten Ramen has a decent soup-base – not as flavorful as Santoka, but acceptable. Batten’s ramens are generously portioned and they have that chewy/springy bounce that you expect in a fresh bowl of ramen. Their Hiyashi Chuka (cold ramen) was also not on par with Santoka. I’m not a fan of seasoned pork cutlet in my cold ramen, I would have much preferred crab meat. What shines at Batten Ramen is their curry, the katsu curry is my go to dish and is one of the best you’ll find in New Jersey.

Batten Ramen offers combination sets that allow you to add a half portion of curry rice or fried rice to you ramen order for an additional $3. They have daily deals that offer a combination of items on their menu for one low price. Remember to bring cash, they don’t accept the plastic. There’s metered street parking in the front and a large muni-meter lot in the back.

Batten Ramen
Batten Ramen Combination (add half curry or half riced rice for an additional $3)- $11.50

Batten Ramen
Batten Ramen (ramen in tonkatsu broth)

Batten Ramen
Gyoza – $3.50

Batten Ramen
Batten Ramen – $8.50

Batten Ramen
Katsu Curry with Rice – $9.00

Batten Ramen
Hiyashi Chuka (cold ramen) – $9.99 (seasonal – only available during the summer)

Batten Ramen
Champon Ramen – $8.50

Batten Ramen

Batten Ramen

Batten Ramen

Batten Ramen

Batten Ramen

PalkagJung Restaurant

22 Oct

This venue is closed.

PalkagJung Restaurant

Rating: ★★★☆☆
268 Broad Ave., Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 592-6400
Price: $$
Hours:
Mon-Sun 10:30 am – 10:30 pm
Foursquare

Fine traditional Korean food at a fair price. They have the best Korean ginseng chicken soup (samgyetang) in New Jersey

PalkagJung is a traditional Korean restaurant with a very diverse offering. They provide a generous amount of Korean side dishes (Banchan) and their services is attentive and friendly. They’re best known for their authentic Korean ginseng chicken soup (samgyetang), which is the best I’ve had in all of New Jersey. This soup is composed of a whole chicken stuffed with rice, ginseng, garlic cloves, daechus, and number of other herbs. It’s traditionally served in the summer for its supposed nutrients, but I’ve had it in the winter and it think it’s just as good, if not better.

In addition to their amazing chicken soup, I also recommend any of their hot bibimbap dishes on stone plates and tofu soups in stone pots. There ingredients are very fresh and any of those dishes wont disappoint. If you’re looking for Korean BBQ, they also have that here. It’s not great, but decent. There’s no permanent grill at the table, they bring out portables ones for you.

PalkagJung Restaurant
Korean Side Dishes (Banchan) – Free w/ Meal

PalkagJung Restaurant
Octopus Bibimbap – $13.99

PalkagJung Restaurant
Fried Chicken Appetizer – $9.99

PalkagJung Restaurant
Bulgogi Beef Patty Plater w/ Tofu Soup (not in picture) – $18.99

El Pollo Loco

30 Jun

This venue is closed.

El Pollo Loco

Rating: ★★★☆☆
2100 88th St, North Bergen, NJ 07047
Website
(201) 868-0500
Price: $$
Twitter // Facebook

Chicken marinated and flame broiled to perfection, decent burritos and tacos, and always fresh salsas

El Pollo Loco, which translates to “The Crazy Chicken“ is mostly a west coast restaurant chain with new locations recently popping up on the east. They specializes in flame-grilling marinated chicken and is regarded as a healthier alternative to traditional fast food chains. They have over 300 restaurants across the country, I visited their newly open location in North Bergen, New Jersey.

I had their BBQ Slider sandwich ($1-1.50) and eight piece special ($6.99), which includes wings, thighs, and drumsticks. Their slider sandwiches are decent, cheap, and incredibly small; you can literally finish it in less than 2 bites. Their flame-grilled chicken is exceptionally good, the skin is crispy and the meat has good herbal flavoring. Their chicken is also not as greasy as your average chicken fast food chain (ie. KFC). You can purchase meals in 2, 3, 4, 8, 12 piece sets. All meals come with sides (there’s 8 to choose from) and a drink.

In addition to chicken, they also serve burritos, bowls, tacos, and a few specialties. I tried their Bean, Rice and Cheese Burrito (BRC) ($1.69) and there’s no comparison to Toco Bell and the like, they use solid pinto beans and real Spanish rice instead of that mushy refried junk you see in fast food chains. Their Toco al Carbon ($1), which is a chicken taco with diced cilantro and onions is also good, but is extremely small portioned. There fresh salsa bar is also a crowd favorite and it includes toppings such as avocado salsa and guacamole, which is free to all customers.

Overall, I recommend the majority of El Pollo Loco’s offerings, especially their flame-boiled chicken. They’re not the best I’ve had, but at their prices you’re definitely getting a value meal (good quality and descent portions at a fair price).

El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco
Salsa Bar

El Pollo Loco
8pc Chicken Meal (Legs & Thighs) – $6.99

El Pollo Loco
BBQ Slider – $0.99

El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant

5 May

This venue is closed.

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant

Rating: ★★★☆☆
4 East Columbia Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 313-0025
Price: $$

Their food is decent, but what keeps me coming back is their attentive service.

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant is a new Korean Restaurant on Columbia Avenue in Palisades Pak, NJ. They offer the round-of-the-mill Korean dishes, but specialize in Korean BBQ. The restaurant is broken up into two sections with a common area in the middle, one half is dedicated for BBQ and the other is for BBQ and non BBQ customers. This review is based solely on their non BBQ dishes, there will be a separate review for their BBQ offerings at a later date.

During my visit to Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant I tired their spicy rice noodle (duk bok ki), Korean roll (gimbap), fried pork cutlet, steamed pork dumplings and season beef rice stone pot (bulgogi bibimbap). None of those dishes are particularly special and compared to the vast Korean offerings in the Palisades Park area, they’re average at best . What I found particularly refreshing about Hong Ga Meun Ok was not their food, but their customer service. They’re very attentive and they go out of their way to make customers fell welcome. I was provided with a complementary dish because they felt that my bibimbap was not served prompt enough, which really wasn’t the case. The majority of their customers are Korean (I think 95%), thus they don’t even have a english menu but the waiter was patient enough to slowly explain the entire menu to me. I was told that they’re in the process of creating a english menu, but until that’s available it may be difficult for patrons that are unfamiliar with Korean food to order (even with a waiter translating the menu). The store front is also entirely in Korean (see image below), so unless you can read Korean get acquainted with the address and/or the image of their store front below.

Overall, Hong Ga Meun Ok has decent food, nothing mind blowing, but worth visiting because of their wonderful service.

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant
Fried Pork Cutlet – $13.99

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant
Steam Dumpling

Hong Ga Meun Ok Restaurant
Korean Roll (Gimbap) + Spicy rice Noodle (duk bok ki) Combo – $9.99

Tospia

4 May

Tospia

Rating: ★★★☆☆
1215 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
Website
(201) 944-1100
Price: $
Facebook // Foursquare

Tospia is a South Korean franchise that recently opened a US branch on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, NJ. They specialize in press sandwiches that are made using their custom press machine. All sandwiches are made to order and are served hot and toasty. My favorite are their bulgogi, pizza and chicken teriyaki sandwiches. In addition to sandwiches they also serve korean bread and pastries, ice cream, fresh fruit juices, bubble tea and Douwe Egberts coffee. Their fruit juices are decent, but everything else is very sub-par, I would only revisit for their sandwiches. Their service is very friendly and they do take credit (Visa or Matercard), but there’s no lot so be prepared look for street parking.

Tospia

Tospia

Tospia

Tospia

Tospia
Bulgogi Sandwich (Seasoned Beef) – $4.50

Tospia
Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich – $4.00

Tospia
Pizza Sandwich – $3.50

Tospia
Potato Salad Sandwich – $3.50

Tospia
Spicy Pork Sandwich – $4.00

The Big Red Tomato

29 Apr

The Big Red Tomato

Rating: ★★★★☆
1205 Anderson Ave, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Website
(201) 224-6500
Price: $$
Hours:
Mon-Thurs 11 am – 9:45pm
Fri 11 am – 10:45pm
Sat 4 pm – 10:45pm
Sun 3 pm – 9:45pm
Facebook // Foursquare

The Big Red Tomato (BRT) has the best Italian food I’ve ever had in New Jersey. There’s nothing fancy about BRT, they’re simply a casual family-style Italian restaurant that serves dam good food. Their pastas are always perfect, their pizzas are great for the kids and the free garlic knots are always a great starter. They have great friendly service, their prices are reasonable and on top of that they’re BYOB. It does however, get busy during dinner and there’s usually a wait, but it’s worth it. They don’t have a parking lot and street parking near the restaurant is limited, so you might have to circle for a bit. I really like their pastas and recommend everyone try the Linguni Mariano and the Spaghetti Capacha.

The Big Red Tomato

The Big Red Tomato
Every table gets a free bucket of bread and garlic knots

The Big Red Tomato
Linguini Mariano (chicken, broccoli, mushrooms and pimentos sauteed in a light cream sauce) – $11.95

The Big Red Tomato
Shrimp Special of Day – $18

The Big Red Tomato
Sauteed Broccoli Rebe – $5.25

The Big Red Tomato

The Big Red Tomato

Yokohama St. Honore (横浜サンノーレ)

21 Apr

SANY0152

Rating: ★★★☆☆
595 River Road (in the Mitsuwa Marketplace), Edgewater, NJ 07020
Website
(201) 941-1941
Price: $
Foursquare

Yokohama St. Honore is a Japanese bakery that can be found next to Italian Tomato in the New Jersey Mitsuwa Marketplace. It specialize in Japanese style bread and pastries, but is best known for their Kyoto Bologne, a danish-style bread made by layering dough and baked in a loaf pan. You have to be quick to snag one, they usually sell out in a matter of minutes. There’s also a good variety of Japanese buns and sandwiches to choose from, I like their curry croquette bun ($1.6) and raisin ball ($1.5).

Overall, St. Honore is a great place to grab fresh Japanese bread or pastries. Do remember to bring cash, they don’t accept credit cards.

Yokohama St. Honore

Yokohama St. Honore

Yokohama St. Honore

Yokohama St. Honore
Kyoto Bologne – $7

Yokohama St. Honore
Toasted Kyoto Bologne

Yokohama St. Honore
Curry Croquette Bun – $1.60

Yokohama St. Honore
Cheese Cake

Yokohama St. Honore
Tofu Donut

Yokohama St. Honore
Black Sesame Pudding

Yokohama St. Honore
Mochi Donut

Yokohama St. Honore
Melonpan

Yokohama St. Honore
Fruit Tart

Katsuhana

20 Apr

Katsuhana

Rating: ★★★☆☆
595 River Road (in the Mitsuwa Marketplace), Edgewater, NJ 07020
Website
(201) 941-9113
Price: $
Foursquare

Katsuhana is tucked in the food court section of the Mitsuwa Marketplace. They offer a good variety of katsu at decent prices. The majority of their sets come with miso soup, tofu, Japanese pickles, shredded cabbage, rice and fruits/ jello dessert. My usual at Katsuhana is their berkshire pork tender loin cutlet set, which goes for $7.50. Their portions are fair and it’s the closest to authentic katsu I’ve found in New Jersey. Remember to bring CASH, they don’t accept credit here.

Katsuhana
Realistic replicas of items on their menu

Katsuhana
Berkshire Pork Tender Loin Cutlet Set – $7.50

Katsuhana

Katsuhana

Katsuhana