Buffalo chicken tortas. Cajun burritos. Tofu fajitas seasoned with curry and cumin. These aren't your average Mexican dishes, and Boca Grande Cantina Mexicana isn't your average Mexican restaurant. There's a playfulness to the menu here, brought on by the chefs' willingness to experiment with ingredients from around the globe. They've found Indian food to be especially compatible with Mexican preparations; for proof, see the vegetarian burrito with red curry sauce or the lentil-stuffed pi?ata.
As a boy, Michael Colletti watched his immigrant father and grandparents prepare age-old family recipes they brought with them from their Sicilian home. He watched them in awe as they used ingredients, such figs and cardoons, from their own backyard to craft an array of traditional Italian dishes. Needless to say, this early fascination led him toward formal training as a grown-up, which launched him into a career as a chef and restaurateur. Since graduating from the Culinary Education Center, he has worked in restaurants lauded by the New York Times, helped found Good Stuff Eatery, and won the "Rachel Ray Burger Bash" contest at the 2009 Food & Wine Festival. After all this success, Chef Colletti decided to go back to his roots. To do this, he opened VB3 Restaurant, where he blends the Sicilian flavors of his youth with the wide array of culinary techniques he mastered as an adult.
Since opening, VB3 Restaurant has really become two restaurants in one. On the one hand, the dining room makes for an excellent place to enjoy a romantic meal featuring the chef’s roasted branzino or seasonal penne primavera, as well as live music and dancing. On the other hand, the take-out line provides easy access to the eatery’s Italian-style pizza—a specialty based on dough recipes a young Michael learned from his cousin, who came up with them during his stint living in an Italian oven.
The licensed aestheticians at Spa Aura don't just specialize in European or Asian techniques; rather, they practice a seamless fusion of both. During manicures and pedicures, for instance, nail techs not only expertly apply eye-catching polish, but also help improve blood flow with massage and acupressure techniques. Patrons then visit the upper level's nail-drying bar, where they can watch retro films or read magazines until their colors dry.
Down in the softly lit lower level, past tiled floors lined with glowing lights, aestheticians incorporate ingredients such as coconut milk into circulation-boosting body treatments. Following one of Spa Aura?s body treatments?as well as facials and massages?clients are invited for a soothing visit to the infrared sauna. The dry sauna, lined with minerals plucked from the mountains of Asia, detoxifies bodies in a more relaxing way than trying to remove pennies stuck up the nose during childhood.
Carnivores at the casual eatery can chomp into Lucky's Famous cheddar burger ($6) or the Lucky barbecue bacon cheddar burger ($8)—succulent savories made with freshly ground 100% Premium Gold Angus Beef and Lucky's special seasoning. The Lucky turkey burger ($5) tames health conscious tasters, and the Lucky veggie cheddar ($6) bypasses bovines for a legume-laden round, rife with cheese. Mash down the onslaught of meat with a Lucky's Famous chili cheese dog supreme, with chopped onions, sauerkraut, and relish ($5, add grilled onions, sliced jalapeños, or melted cheddar for $1).
The windows of skyscrapers form a gossamer chain of lights across the night sky, all arrayed behind diners on the second floor at Teak On The Hudson. The colors that pop against the darkness also leap from golden pineapple adorning tuna tartar with tobiko and emerald spears of asparagus atop scallops and champagne sauce. In the kitchen, chefs play with hues while wrapping soy paper around ruby-hued spicy tuna, yellowtail, and salmon for rolls with creative names such as Teak Loves You. They glide between steaming pots, carrying bok choy, flounder, king crab, and other ingredients from around the world like panicked zookeepers on their first day of work.
As animated as the kitchen is, the decor in Teak’s dining rooms keeps eyes bouncing around with ornate chandeliers that light up tin ceilings. Ornate twirls climb damask-printed curtains pinned back to marbled pillars. Koi fish swirl laconically inside a giant fish tank along the back of the bar, their tank reflecting blue and pink lights and medieval-looking lion-head statues. On the weekend, DJs slowly unleash the pulse of top-40 dance music throughout the eatery and parties up to 1,000 fill the rooms.
The master chefs at Sushi House of Hoboken garnered a 2008 Readers' Choice award from New Jersey Monthly for their flavorful sushi rolls and Japanese-style beef, chicken, and seafood. Diners can pull up seats to the open-air sushi bar, where culinary artisans prep edible care packages such as the red dragon roll, its eel and cucumber drizzled in kabayaki sauce. Thanks to the eatery's BYOB policy, dinner parties can sip personal potables as they share teriyaki beef or hand-feed pellets to the fish sculptures that dot the dining room. Alternatively, guests can feel free to dine on the restaurant's outdoor patio or order takeout to hone chopstick techniques in private.