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.
When the hot-dog restaurant in their building closed unexpectedly, leaseholders Greg and Cheryl Spinelli decided to use the space to create a cuisine rarely found on the Montclair restaurant scene: authentic Spanish tapas. According to Baristanet, the duo paired with chef Gonzalo Fernandez—a native Galician—to create a menu of small plates that includes grilled chorizo, Galician-style sardines, and bacon-wrapped dates as well as a Sunday brunch. One of the eatery’s most flavorful dishes, paella, combines seven varieties of seafood—including grilled langoustine, scallops, and mussels—with spoons that have learned to swim. Every Friday night, Tapastry extends its vibrant Spanish influences to the dance floor, where the renowned flamenco group Romeria Flamenca performs in back-to-back shows.
Ethiopian cuisine is traditionally eaten utensil-free, perched atop homemade injera, a large sourdough flatbread that acts as a tender, edible glove for your right hand to pick up and feed savory heaps of eats to your anticipatory taste buds. This spongy, pancake-like bread is delicious on its own and provides the ideal sidekick to complement the famous spicy main kick of the Ethiopian dishes on Mesob's menu. Popular entrees include doro key wat ($18.95) and doro aletcha wat ($17.95), spicy and mild versions of tender stewed chicken legs accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. The vegetarian sampler ($16.95 for one, $33 for two) is six leafy dishes, including gomen (collard greens), atkilt wat (fresh string beans and carrots), shiro (pureed split peas and chickpeas), and tikil gomen (cabbage and potatoes). Mesob is BYOB, and this Groupon is also good for Sunday brunch.
Owner and executive chef Juan Andres Placencia brings years of experience to his bold flavor hotspot, infusing traditional Peruvian dishes with high-quality ingredients and refined cooking techniques. Costanera’s rich, seafaring menu preps head-holes for the imminent arrival of heaping portions of crunchy crustaceans served alongside Peruvian condiments. Appetizers tread gastronomic water with marinated diver scallops, quinoa-crusted fish fritters, and spicy prawn soups floating alongside herbivore-friendly potato cakes. A selection of protein-packed entrees combines Peruvian taste notes with global inspiration; braised Colorado lamb shank sits thigh to wing with traditional Peruvian rotisserie chicken, much to the delight of anyone on a pure meat diet. Costanera is also BYOB, so feel free to bring along a favorite wine, beer, or full bathtub of gin.