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 itâ€™s a cool looking place.
Cellar 335 is the newest addition to Jersey Cityâ€™s downtown restaurant and bar scene, a cool new eatery designed in urban industrial dÃ©cor and with a kitschy â€œletâ€™s have funâ€ 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, thereâ€™s an enclosed dining room â€“ the type where you make an entrance â€“ 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.
Tables line the walls that are painted with murals by local artist Mustart. Another feast for the eyes is the moss wall, a living tapestry of colorful moss that grows off the brick. Placed in the center of the back of the room, it draws attention; and itâ€™s a real showstopper. The dining room atmosphere is warm, and comfortable. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, as the waiters got ready for dinner service, they wore Polynesian leis over their t-shirts in honor of â€œTiki Tuesdaysâ€ a wink to the Polynesian-twist to the food and drinks concocted at the Tiki bar.
General Manager Peter Arnone welcomes visitors to the dining room where the alert wait staff aims to give customers a night to remember. Eating at Cellar 335 should be a total experience of the senses, Arnone says
â€œWe want all your senses to be played with,â€ Arnone says, smiling. â€œThe art on the walls, the music you hear, the smell and taste of the food. We play with all your senses and weâ€™re giving you a great experience.â€
Designing the menu was a team effort supervised by Chef/Owner Jamie Knott, and assisted by Chef de Cuisine Jared Bane, and Arnone who decided on an Asian American cuisine with a Polynesian twist served tapas-style: small dishes meant to be shared. More like a family-style concept, Arnone says.
For starters, thereâ€™s Spicy Cornbread ($2 ea), Crabcakes ($5 ea.), Bao ($4 ea), Charred Edamane, Hummus, Tropical Salad, Hamachi Tartare, Tuna Roll, Crack Fries, and Chicken Wontons. ($8-$14)
Entrees are Spicy Beef Noodle, Szechuan Chicken Noodle, Avocado Fried Rice, Shrimp & Garlic, Branzino, Crispy Chicken, Prime Polynesian Ribeye, Prime Skirt Steak, Crispy Duroc Ribs, and Korean Style Wings ($10-$39).
â€œOne of our popular dishes are the Bao (steamed buns) and we serve them four ways, stuffed with hamburger; pimento, cheese, and tomatillo sauce; the sausage & pepper Bao; and veggie-burger Bao.â€
Classic Tiki cocktails like the Mai Tai, Peleâ€™s Awa, The Smartest Guy in the Room, Zombie Priest Punch and the Smoldering Bastard look like a real treat. The bar staff make the syrups and freshly-squeezed juices, too.
â€œWe play with classics and make them our own,â€ Arnone says.
The Smoldering Bastard
Â Cellar 335â€™s dining room seats 85; the bar seats 15 and the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday. Itâ€™s closed Sundays and Mondays because Arnone and his team set the bar high when it comes to consistency and they want to have just one wait staff, one bar staff and one kitchen staff running the show.
Chef John Chomenko creates the most amazing desserts. Everythingâ€™s homemade like the Apple Hand Pies, the Zeppoles with Nutella cream; the Tres Leches Cake and the Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches including the Roasted Banana Ice Cream pressed between two Oatmeal Cookies. All the desserts are $10 â€“ and worth every penny, indeed!
Cellar 335 just opened a couple weeks ago, but the buzz is great, Arnone says.
â€œWeâ€™re appealing to everyone, from people in their 20s to their 70s,â€ Arnone says. â€œI love to be able to hit a broad spectrum.â€
Right next door to Cellar 335 is the new Madame Claudeâ€™s restaurant
â€œTheyâ€™re legends in this neighborhood,â€ Arnone says. â€œWeâ€™re blessed to be on the other side of their door.â€
If you go
335 Newark Ave, JC
Tues-Thurs, 5 pm-12 midnight
Fri & Sat, 5 pm-2 am