Efes Restaurant reveals its uniqueness in layers. Hidden behind the unassuming facade of a strip mall, the interior boasts a much more substantial amount of character. Into this richly appointed room, waiters cart salads, babaganoush, and kebabs with chunks of chicken and lamb still sizzling from the grill. What fixtures define the elegance of this dining area? Gold-upholstered chairs line the pristinely white linen-clad tables, surrounding a dropped floor in the middle of the dining room. A strip of lighting under the step down illuminates an inlay of black and white marble tiles arranged to excite the eye with their geometric patterns and challenge the mind to remember what a hypotenuse is.
At Forero's New York Gourmet Pizzeria, chefs cobble fresh ingredients into a menu of pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, and Italian specialties. From their brick oven emerge pans of ultra-thin, whole-wheat, and gluten-free crusts bearing bubbly mozzarella and Forero's signature pizza sauce, with gourmet toppings such as ricotta, rib eye, or sun-dried tomatoes. Appetizers blend Italian and Mexican favorites before ushering in entrees where veal gets top billing and specialty pastas such as fettuccine Alfredo and italian cheese manicotti call out from the menu's pages like sirens to salivary glands. With take-away and complimentary delivery services, meals meet their destinies within the comforts of one's home or at a hunting cabin, where one can claim to have just caught a fresh pizza.
Fragrant roses and fine wine can be key elements of a romantic evening, and both can be found at Wine & Roses, a family-owned boutique in business since 1987. In addition to a full florist's shop and liquor store, patrons can find gourmet foods, gift baskets, stuffed animals, and balloons. Delivery is available throughout Bergen County.
A Taste of Greece's owner Themis Mourelatos, a native of Athens, relies on fresh ingredients imported from his homeland and healthy cooking methods to prepare a flavorful array of Mediterranean classics. Called “an exercise in no compromises or shortcuts” by the New York Times, the quaint Mediterranean eatery outfitted with warm hues and tiled walls regales guests with traditional Greek staples, such as sheep’s milk feta cheese and scholarly lectures on the meaning of aesthetic form. Cooks also craft seafood specials using fresh fish shipped daily from Peter’s Fish Market in Midland Park.
Though Mantra Head Chef Purvesh Patel is known for his creative takes on Indian cuisine—including chaat, or snack food, garnished with tender lobster meat—his careful, French-inspired cooking also leaves its mark on the menu’s traditional entrees. "Each ingredient seemed to have bathed for just the right number of hours in its yogurt marinade; each was precisely cooked; and each carried a heady overtone of spices," a New York Times food writer recalled of a tandoori dish in 2008. In contrast to these subtle flavors, Mantra’s presentation often has theatrical flair; chefs chop chaat dishes tableside and set a banana flambé dessert ablaze with rum.
Both locations’ sleek dining rooms also go for drama with bold, modern decor. In Jersey City, red accents simmer against warm-toned walls. Next to the Paramus spot's mosaic-tiled bar, live flames dance on the low wall between the dining room and lounge, upping the “amazement factor” for Cody Kendall of the Star-Ledger.
Palm-leaf fan blades send lazy breezes through the dining room at Dos Cubanos, where massive seascape murals and decorative clotheslines nod to the beauty and rusticity of Old Havana. Like the decor, Dos Cubanos' culinary offerings stay loyal to the eatery's Cuban roots, showcasing traditional selections such as ropa vieja—a shredded, twice-cooked flank steak glazed in criollo sauce—and plating entrees with black beans, white rice, and sweet plantains. The menu also encompasses an assortment of tapas, including empanadas and ham-and-swiss croquettes, that allow diners to share their food.
At Dinallo's Restaurant, fresh meats and seafood sizzle atop pastas, and chefs bathe classic Italian dishes in white-wine sauce to craft a Zagat-rated menu. Pescetarians sink forks into fresh grilled salmon ($21) or savor the wine-slathered morsels of shrimp in the gamberoni al vino bianco ($25). The pollo parmigiana's pan-fried breaded chicken cutlet acts as a liaison between melty mozzarella, tomato sauce, and a bed of pasta ($18), and the veal scaloppine mingles with capers in lemon, butter, and white wine ($24). After the meal, patrons sip wine from the eatery's bar and indulge in homemade cannoli or a slice of carrot cake, dashed with nutmeg and walnuts, frosted with cream-cheese icing, and surrounded by a force that repels nearby cartoon rabbits.