New Jersey Monthly’s runner up for Best Coffeehouse, The Fine Grind recharges caffeine-powered batteries with a menu of delicious drinks and treats. Customers can plug their keister into a couch and wait for the friendly cadre of coffee slingers to whip up a cappuccino ($2.95, small) or a yerba maté latte laced with cardamom, vanilla, and cloves ($3.80, medium). The Fine Grind defies the laws of physics with the customer-favorite froho, a frozen hot chocolate blendesso concoction ($4.25).
A curved-glass case is the only thing that separates salivating customers from Brothers display of french and italian pastries, which include whipped-cream pies, cookies, danishes, and two sizes of cannolis. The store's fresh baked loafs of garlic, brioche, and rye bread, however, perch proudly on open racks, ready to encase sandwich meats, warm butter, or mouthwatering restaurant reviews. The intermingling smells of sweet and savory treats culled from natural, preservative-free ingredients represent a 35-year-old tradition at Brothers Quality Bakery. Custom sculpture cakes are the cherry on top of the baked goods sundae, and the Brothers Quality staff pile layers of fondant and icing upon their red velvet and chocolate masterpieces to create designs such ladybugs for birthday parties, corsets for bachelorette parties, and snowmen for holiday events.
With a crêpe-centric menu, Kafe Neo expands on the repertoire of the typical café kitchen with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack-time fare. During each visit, diners can look on as crêpes ($2.99–$8.99 each) are cooked to order in a pan, flattened over a copy of the French Constitution, and filled with signature combinations of more than 70 different meat, vegetable, cheese, and fruit fillings. After coffee beans are carefully put through the antique roasters at nearby Dallis Bros. Coffee, they're ground up and brewed onsite to make café mochas ($4.49), lattes ($3.99), and classic cups of joe ($2.49 with refills). Whether you're eyeing something savory, sweet, or simply not caught on fire, the restaurant also serves fresh paninis, omelets, and french toast.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
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.