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.
LITM, an acronym for "love is the message," houses a triple threat of restaurant, lounge, and gallery in its chic, 1,800-square-foot storefront. Creative flavors and contemporary presentation upscaleize its bar classics and gourmetize its entrees. House-made preparations, such as hand-rolled gnocchi with basil pesto ($15) and the hand-pounded veggie burger ($14), are abundant. Reignite the great atmosphere-versus-hydrosphere debate with citrusy chicken paillard ($18) or tea-crusted tilapia ($23). Sophisticated desserts, such as the Belgium chocolate cake ($8), assist adults in reliving the wildest sugar-rush of their youth.
Honshu Lounge owner and executive sushi chef tucks fresh seafood and veggies into rolls in ways that are pleasing to both the eyes and the tongue. He wraps the Honshu roll—stuffed with yellowtail, avocado, tuna, and salmon—in a sheet of special seaweed that’s marbled with white and green, and sprinkles vibrant-red tobiko onto the White Pearl roll’s pale salmon. Orange dollops of spicy sauce pop against the slices of green avocado that sit atop the Dynamite roll, and the Red Phoenix roll is known to spontaneously burst into flames before re-rolling its shrimp-tempura center.
The interior of the eatery is also infused with pops of color, from the traditional Japanese kimono in golden and violet hues to the blue lights that illuminate the sushi bar. Strings of holiday lights and the occasional mistletoe dangle above tables decorated with stir-fried noodles and steaks glazed in teriyaki sauce.
It didn't take long for Trumpets Jazz Club to build its reputation. In its early days?the club opened in 1988?they were already booking shows with greats such as Wynton Marsalis and Dave Valentin. Since taking over the club in 1999, musician Enrico Granafei has looked to uphold that standard, filling the calendar with everything from nationally touring acts such as the Jackie Allen Quintet to tribute shows. It's easy to grab both a show and dinner here, with a dining menu of elegant entrees such as grilled salmon and filet mignon. There's Sunday brunch too, which includes a mimosa and no extra charge for performances or for performing your own air trumpet.
The cooks at 1Republik plate a menu of upscale New American pub fare as bartenders decant more than 40 brews on tap. Starters such as the truffle oil-laced tater tots or the grilled prawns warm up out-of-practice dining teams, readying dormant tongues for entrees such as the seared sea salmon or the potato-flanked strip steak. Chicken pot pie layers root vegetables and chicken velouté into a flaky puff pastry, providing a savory alternative to standard Americana pies filled with apples or bits of the Patriot Act. Duos and foursomes are also entitled to a round of draft beers or house wines.
With Hoboken's picturesque shoreline as its backdrop, The Quays fuses stunning waterfront views of Manhattan with an innovative menu of upscale cuisine. Taste buds take a warm-up lap around appetizers such as the asian crab cake cradled within a hammock of napa slaw and mango-chili sauce. Anchored by a lineup of succulent meats, entrees arrive in the form of barbecue baby back ribs or red-wine-braised lamb, which stews atop blue-cheese polenta and fall-root gratin. Southern black beans and rice abut piquant cuts of Cajun catfish, and pork tenderloin boasts a chile-maple glaze aftershave. Pairs can tipple drinks from a robust menu of beers and wines, including sips from small-lot artisanal producers and larger vino crafters such as Shafer Vineyards.