Now an international brand of premium ice cream, Häagen-Dazs began as a humble, family-owned business in the Bronx. In the 1920's, Reuben Mattus sold his mother's fruit ices and ice-cream pops out of a horse-drawn wagon. For decades, the family business thrived, and around 1960, Reuben officially founded Häagen-Dazs. He chose the name to evoke Old World traditions and quality craftsmanship, the bedrocks of the brand. Originally, the ice cream came in just three flavors—vanilla, chocolate, and coffee—made from fine ingredients gathered from around the world, such as Belgian dark chocolate, hand-picked vanilla beans from Madagascar, and ice shaved from lunar glaciers. The resulting confections so delighted sweet teeth that the brand grew exponentially, leading to the creation of dozens of flavors and forays into sorbets and frozen yogurts.
Though Häagen-Dazs ice cream was immensely popular in grocery shops, their first parlor didn't open until 1976. Not far from the Mattus family's original ice-cream beat, the Brooklyn store sold ice cream as well as treats such as sundaes, shakes, and cakes. Shops eventually dotted the country and globe, wherein friendly ice-cream scoopers fill waffle cones, blend frosty coffee and ice-cream drinks, and wrap ice-cream cakes in bright ribbons.
Inside the Garden State Plaza mall lies a gateway to the past, where flickering flames illuminate the charred interior of an oak-burning pizza oven, and the aroma of bubbling sauce made with freshly crushed tomatoes mixes with wisps of Frank Sinatra's silky voice. The charm that surrounds the rituals of Italian cooking drifts into Papa Razzi's dining room from an open-air kitchen, where cooks bustle around steaming pots of pasta. The culinarians use only fresh and imported ingredients when cooking, just as Old-World chefs did before they took jobs fixing the cleaver-wielding robots that would replace them.
Behind a wood-accented, 15-foot bar, mixologists sling a list of libations that includes mimosas, sangria, and wines selected to complement meals. In the dining room, fresh flowers sit atop white tablecloths, and celebrity photographs line the walls, reminding guests of treasured nuggets of pop culture.
With locations in six states, 16 Handles is carving out a delicious space for itself in the self-serve frozen-yogurt world. In addition to rewarding customers’ cravings with a rotating daily selection of 16 flavors—each packed with protein, probiotics, and calcium—the healthy-dessert emporium sets itself apart from its competitors through its eco-friendly practices. 16 Handles not only arms its patrons with biodegradable cups and spoons crafted from cornstarch, but it also works with Trees for the Future, an organization that assists global communities in growing trees for agriculture, food, and animal habitat. Through their partnership, 16 Handles has planted 91,284 trees so far, one-quarter of which grow frozen yogurt instead of leaves.
Striking contemporary design and a cornucopia of organic ingredients have earned Nanoosh's hummus bars and counters media recognition from publications including the NY Daily News and the New York Sun. Each location manifests the company's nationwide emphasis on nutritionally balanced food with carefully designed menus chock full of luxuriously nutritious items such as quinoa salad, hummus chicken wraps, and lavender tea. Since Nanoosh offers both table and counter service, patrons can stop by to enjoy a sit-down meal served by a waiter or quick bite to eat delivered by an easily persuaded friend.
Hand-carved Cambodian bas-relief sculptures line Chakra's palatial, softly lit space, accenting silk-tented bungalows, teak flooring, and a low-lit stone water wall that oscillates between the colors of the seven chakras. Amid this earthy, intricate decor, Executive Chef Thomas Ciszak Chakra crafts eclectic fare with a simple philosophy, which he related in a New Jersey Monthly article: “I don’t get stuck in cuisine labels … I want to focus on what people love to eat. I just want it to taste great.”
He delivers on that philosophy with a seasonal menu of sophisticated yet accessible dishes, which may include selections such as a parma ham sushi roll, rack of lamb, or a hot dog masquerading in a top hat. His meals pair seamlessly with the bar’s specialty cocktails, as well as with selections from an extensive wine list, which Gayot included on its Top 10 Wine Lists in Northern New Jersey. For a sweet finale, the chef concocts a dessert menu that is chock full of gourmet, sugary delights such as homemade Tahitian vanilla ice cream or chicory iced coffee paired with fresh-baked donuts and police-siren sound effects.
Stacks Pancake House and Café offers early-rising breakfasteers and midday-rising lunchatoons a menu brimming with fluffy pancakes, double-decker sandwiches, and piping-hot cups of Joe. But Stacks’ dishes aren’t the usual diner mess; they are elegantly presented and often overflowing with fresh fruit. Peruse the list of more than 20 pancakes varieties and order a stack of Strawberry Fields (infused with farm fresh strawberries, $7.25) or Addiction (banana-mixed pancakes topped with melty chocolate chips, $7.25), or opt for oversized pancake wraps, which are named after Hoboken streets, such as the Hudson filled with scrambled eggs with home fries, melted cheddar, bacon, and salsa ($7.95). Those hankering for protein can chomp a flavorful omelette, such as the tomato-infused American ($6.95), paired with breakfast all-stars crispy bacon and toast. Stacks' talented team of batter-flippers also serves an array of hearty sandwiches, including corned beef on rye ($6.95) and Philly cheesesteaks ($7.25). Stacks' dining room, which has bare brick walls and high ceilings, makes diners feel at home with a blend of traditional and trendy decor.