Plumes of fragrant steam swirl above bowls as waiters deliver hefty portions of paella to red-linen-topped tables inside Vivo Tapas Lounge. In the paella, clamshells, shrimp, mussel shells, and pearly scallops pop amid a heap of golden saffron rice. The eatery’s paella complements a list of hot and cold tapas, all of which exemplify the restaurant's Zagat rating of very good to excellent food. On small tapas plates, chefs arrange tiny patties of spanish tuna or mushrooms stuffed with onions, bacon, pine nuts, and mozzarella cheese. After meals, the crowd can get to their feet and dance the night away amid colorful beams of light and exposed-brick walls. Sheer curtains cordon off private seating with tufted, high-backed banquettes for VIP parties and laid-back tax audits.
Like other Mediterranean cuisines, Portuguese fare incorporates aromatic doses of olive oil, garlic, onions, and wine. But unique to this cuisine is its intercontinental flair; you'll find rice from Asia, hot peppers from Africa, and cinnamon, cloves, and ginger from India, all influenced by the Portuguese colonies once spread across the globe. PortuCale Restaurant & Bar brings all this together in a festive and welcoming space. The seafood-heavy menu features six variations on shrimp, a lobster, clam, and scallop entree doused in the chef's secret hot sauce, and tilapia and salmon filets rubbed in zesty lemon sauces. Specialty meat dishes such as braised Portuguese steak topped with an egg and pork loins with mushrooms, clams, and Spanish potatoes add a robust, meaty element to the proceedings. And dishes like mac and cheese and chicken fingers keep kids from getting cranky and eating their homework.
The space is festive and distinctly Mediterranean?think dark-finished wood furnishings set against light exposed brick. Bartenders make pitchers of Sangria, stock wines from Portugal and Spain, and keep 20-year-old Porto wines on hand. They also sell fine cigars that guests can bring to the outdoor patio?itself a draw for its castle-like stone walls, waterfalls, and faux-moat?and take puffs from between sips of single-malt whisky and cognac from the bar.
The aromas of wings slathered in pomegranate sauce and homemade fettuccini alfredo just emerging from the kitchen fills the air inside Brick City Bar and Grill. Diners settle in to "half-moon booths" and peer over at the "plasma screens behind the granite bar" described by NJ.com. A wall of water enclosed in glass separates the restaurant and bar, where red lighting on the ceiling illuminates hardwood floors, wooden tables, and exposed brick walls below. Twenty draft beers fill glasses, while screens above let guests keep up with sports and the latest changes in coaches' hairstyles. A classic rock soundtrack energizes the room until midnight Sunday–Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday–Saturday.