After more than a decade following different paths in the restaurant industry, friends Donny Giordano and Pellegrino Mongillo merged their culinary passions into Pellegrino's Restaurant & Lounge. In the kitchen, chef Mongillo—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—and his staff combine fresh, seasonal ingredients into dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy. Fresh seafood crops up in the octopus bruschetta and the scallop-, shrimp-, and mussel-flecked orzo. Other offerings include seared hangar steak with provolone and cavatelli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken.
In the main dining space, servers glide across tiled floors to wood tables set under arched doorways. Behind a granite bar, bartenders mix specialty flavored martinis and pour a range of international wines.
True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
Proponents of the slow-food movement, Bibi'z Restaurant and Lounge's proprietors believe that meals deserve to be savored rather than scarfed down. To that end, their chefs ensure that diners have plenty to relish: they use simple techniques to bring out flavors in sustainable and wild-caught fish, grass-fed Black Angus beef, and locally sourced organic produce, dairy, and poultry. The culinary team incorporates those ingredients into dishes such as vegetarian wild-mushroom ravioli with a butternut-squash cream sauce, pan-seared duck breast with a reduction of Asian five-spice, and gluten-free braised short ribs with a parsnip puree.
Hand-selected from sustainable wineries at home and abroad, organic and biodynamic wines—more of 50 of which are available by the glass—add their own nuanced flavors to meals. Barkeeps also quench thirsts with complimentary still and sparkling water filtered in house rather than taken straight from the blowhole of a whale. Each leisurely feast unfolds on Bibi'z's airy outdoor patio or in a spacious dining room replete with a fireplace and a lounge full of comfy leather chairs.
Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio draped with live plants.
In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
Hailing from countries such as Germany, Russia, Italy, Poland, and Argentina, Starlight Dance Center's all-star instructors channel their experience in global competitions and performances while guiding students into the land of ballroom dancing. Three high-ceilinged ballrooms and a 4,000-square-foot performance floor set an elegant, roomy stage as instructors prepare children for recitals at the end of each course. They also teach adults to whirl and jive during group classes, which include weekly salsa parties and free mortgage-refinancing tips. To mix things up, Starlight Dance Center has created a Fit & Dance department where students can explore Zumba, belly dance, ballroom fitness, and total-body workouts.
Belle Havana’s menu mixes and matches classic Cuban and French flavors served alongside the Royale Mojito($12), which comes muddled with fresh mint and garnished with bona-fide sugar cane and a splash of champagne. Chef Alexandre Cheblal’s knives have chopped and diced all over the United States, France, Japan, and Switzerland and infuse each fusion feast with international flavorizers. Devour pork and pickles inside cubano sandwiches ($7.95) or chomp tuna in a nicoise salad ($7.95). Start dinner with small plates of escargot served in cilantro-jalapeno butter ($8.95) to coat stomachs for the successful consumption of half a cornish game hen ($18.95) or red snapper wrapped in a banana leaf ($22.95).