Mat Kopec opened his first restaurant when he was still in his 20s; he bought it on Craigslist and turned it into White Star on Brunswick Street. That was two restaurants ago. Today, Kopec runs three eateries, White Star on Brunswick, White Star Warren St and his new place, Mathews Food & Drink on the corner of Bay & Grove – all three in Jersey City.
Mat (short for Mateusz) Kopec designed Mathews’ menu with Chef Jon Mecca and Chef Mike Kedala, formerly of One if by Land, Two if by Sea in Manhattan. The three decided to serve All American cuisine at Mathews that Kopec describes as, sophisticated, but presented in a casual style.
Madame Claude Bis Walk down curtained Steps to a Hideaway of fine Wine & French Comfort Food
By Sally Deering
Alice Troietto and Mattias Gustafsson are familiar faces to the Downtown Jersey City crowd; their Madame Claude Café on 4th & Brunswick brought French cuisine to the urban dwellers who wanted something more than the usual neighborhood fare. Madame Claude Café has since closed its doors and reopened a bigger and better version of herself just down the street from her old digs.
Meet the new Madame Claude Bis just a few steps off Newark Avenue and down a small stairway where a red curtain beckons hungry city dwellers. Madame Claude Bis’s basement bistro casts low lighting and warm wooden tables and chairs that create a warm and friendly atmosphere. Where Madame Claude’s Café seated 32, the Bis (named for how Paris streets are numbered and not “bistro”) seats 80. The Bis also has a wine list and cocktails, unlike the Café’s BYOB policy. And on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7:30 pm, Gustafsson transforms from restaurateur to balladeer when he and his band, Manouche Bag take to the stage to play gypsy jazz a la legendary Jhengo Reinhardt. The songs are in French and Gustafsson writes most of the band’s repertoire.
Cuban Dishes, Hispanic Wines and Mouth-Watering Mojitos
Open, Sexy Atmosp here with plenty of Cuban Hospitality
By Sally Deering
La Isla Restaurant on Washington Street up the block from City Hall has been a Hoboken staple, serving Cuban cuisine in a tiny space where you have to step outside to change your mind. Riding on the success of its downtown location, La Isla Uptown located on 12th Street and Maxwell Place takes Cuban cuisine to a whole new level in an atmosphere that’s open, aery and filled with Cuban hospitality.
At La Isla Uptown, its more of a fine-dining experience compared to the luncheonette feeling of La Isla downtown, says wine director and general manager Andres Montoya. The uptown restaurant is huge and open with seating for one-hundred in the dining room, at the bar, and in the front of the restaurant that features a counter and stools for those who want to dine and dash. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls, marble floor tiles, and the ceiling fans in dark brown wood make a visitor feel as if they stepped inside a Havana bistro. Along with the beautiful décor, La Isla Uptown has a liquor license which means great wine, beer and Mojitos, Montoya says. Continue reading LA ISLA RESTAURANT UPTOWN HOBOKEN→
Cellar 335 in JC, Asian American Fusion with a Side of Polynesian Kitsch
By Sally Deering
The buzz on Newark Ave in Jersey City continues to be: when will White Eagle Hall open and when do the bands come on? Meanwhile, just a few steps beneath the White Eagle hall entrance, Cellar 335 has just opened and it’s a cool looking place.
Cellar 335 is the newest addition to Jersey City’s downtown restaurant and bar scene, a cool new eatery designed in urban industrial décor and with a kitschy “let’s have fun” vibe. A darkly-lit Tiki bar stands out in the dark mysteriousness of the bar area as soon as you step in from outside. The bar flanks the left side of the bistro with roomy space between barstools and lots of space for standing and mingling. To the right, there’s an enclosed dining room – the type where you make an entrance – that offers dark wood tables, a muted red background and overhanging lights that slide on wires above, so the lighting can change in an instant. Continue reading I KNOW A COOL, SECLUDED PLACE Cellar 335 in Jersey City→
Craft Beer & Cocktails Bar/Steakhouse opens in Hoboken
Father & Son Owners duplicate successful Haledon Eatery in Mile Square City
By Sally Deering
Joe and Chris Schiavo may be new to Hoboken, but they’re not new to the restaurant biz. The successful father & son team own The Shepherd & The Knucklehead craft beer bar and steakhouse in Haledon and it’s so successful, they branched out here in Hudson.
They just opened “The Shep” a little more than a week ago on Willow Avenue between 13 & 14 Streets. A huge space – it seats 125 – with 23 flatscreen TVs all turned to a sports channel lining the walls. The bar is long with 60 taps and a flatscreen above that has the latest crafts available. Cocktails are crafty, too, Joe Schiavo says, because the bartenders squeeze fresh juices and make all the syrups from scratch. Continue reading THE SHEPHERD & THE KNUCKLEHEAD→
Rotary Club of Jersey City to fundraise with Foodies
Foodies, get out your napkins! A motorcade of Food Trucks are heading to Exchange Place in Downtown Jersey City and they’re hauling meatballs, crab cakes, lobster rolls, deep-fried hot dogs, cheesecake, cupcakes and so much more. It’s a foodie feast on wheels
Circling the area known as Owen J. Grundy Pier, the food trucks will line up on Sat, Aug 6 from 12 noon to 7 pm for the Rotary Club of Jersey City’s first Food Truck and Music Festival.
Food trucks and live bands are just part of the extravaganza. There will be crafts, refreshments, activities for the kids and community partners sharing what they do for the local community.
“It’s our way to connect with as many community members as possible, and to get more people involved to do community service in Jersey City,” says Jersey City Rotary Club President-Elect Jennifer Aitken,, who works at New Jersey City University as Director of Specialized Services. “We want to raise awareness about Rotary and what Rotary does. As Jersey City continues to grow. We want to help those who need help.” Continue reading KEEP ON TRUCKIN’Food Trucks on Parade in Jersey City→
Barely open a few weeks and already Ground Connection at Harborside Plaza 10 in Jersey City has people streaming through the doors for espressos, coffees, Danish, muffins, sandwiches and salads. Owner Scott Gillman, who has been in the restaurant business for several decades and owns Markers restaurant also located at Harborside Financial, sees his new coffee bistro as a place where people can get a freshly brewed cup of expresso made-to-order and friendly service from the minute they walk in to the moment they leave.
“Our espresso is Toby’s Estate coffee in Brooklyn, one of the greatest coffee roasters in the country,’ Gillman says, amidst a flurry of customers lining up at the counter to get their daily javas. “Every cup gets hand-steamed milk and each espresso gets made with a different temperature according to its size.”
Ground Connection is considered a modern day coffee shop offering small batch specialty coffee, full leaf and herbal teas, cold-brewed coffees and teas on tap. Sandwiches, sides, soups, pizzas and baked goods are prepared daily.
“Part of the reason we call it Ground Connection is the connection we want to make between our employees and our guests,” Gillman says.
Three Sibling Restaurateurs Focus on Quality & Freshness
By Sally Deering
The best place in the northeast for seafood is New England, right? They even named a chowder in honor of its seafood niche.
But who needs New England when Hudson has its own bustling seafood restaurant on First Street in downtown Jersey City: JUST Beclaws, a 60-seat Vietnamese Cajun seafood eatery has been open a little more than a year and already it’s the go-to destination for foodies who like their shellfish fresh and cooked to perfection.
What also makes the restaurant special are its three owners, siblings, Francis Tran, 32, Nambinh Tran, 27, and Aivy Tran, 34. The three grew up in Jersey City learning the restaurant business from their parents who owned Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant right up the street on Newark Ave.
“We like seafood,” Francis says. “We like to catch it –although we don’t serve what we catch.”