Giyora Malka and Shlomo Cohen, Hummus Elite's dual owners, share the same passion and vision for food. From an early age, Malka cultivated a love of French and Moroccan cuisine in his small Israeli village. He graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York, then set out to broaden his skills in such restaurants as Sushi Samba Park. Eventually, he met Shlomo, a business veteran with dreams of restaurant ownership. Their meeting ignited not only a close friendship, but also the creation of Hummus Elite.
The kosher restaurant focuses its menu on authentic and healthy dishes that are low in both cholesterol and calories, drawing on organic seasonal produce and eggs whenever possible. Servings of hummus are made several times a day, simultaneously keeping side dishes fresh for diners and replacing servings lost to snacking ghosts.
The chefs at Levant Grille fire up a Mediterranean menu of dishes marinated in Middle Eastern spices and designed to be enjoyed as a group. Hot and cold appetizers welcome shared snacking on smoked eggplant in the babaganoush ($7.95), the rice-stuffed grape leaves ($6.95), or the minced-lamb kofte meatballs ($8.95). The Joeje kebab skewers tender chicken breast marinated in Persian spices onto a chorus line of chopped morsels, alternating between tomato, pepper, and onion that high kick over open flames and inspire diners to greet them with a shower of roses ($17.95). A charcoal flame kisses lamb chops on both cheeks and arranges a marriage with bulgur pilaf for the pirzola entree ($22.95), and food artists brush salmon with olive oil, sprinkling fresh herbs over fillets and adding ambiance with a cheerful vegetable medley ($19.95). Cooks dial ovens to lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., arranging shoestring potato fries alongside crispy falafel sandwiches doused with tabouli ($9.95) and Mediterranean burgers buried beneath layers of crumbled feta cheese, caramelized onions, and yogurt sauce ($10.95).
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
A great wine thrives in the company of great food. Grand Cru Wine Bar stands upon this union as a joint venture between Englewood Wine Merchants and Food For Thought Catered Events. These entertainment moguls joined forces to create a menu of American-bistro-style small plates complemented by a list of more than 150 wines from around the world. Bites of sesame-crusted tuna or tomato and mozzarella salad accompany wines from far afield, such as a French bordeaux and an Argentinean malbec, and a host of Californian varietals imported from the United States’ humble backwater region, the West Coast.
The selection of shareable plates and wines is paired with swanky décor, characterized by soft lighting and flickering candles that dance upon sleek, high tabletops.
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