Located within Rutgers University’s Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Café Z’s chef and American Culinary Federation member Bruno Pascale crafts, stirs, and presses paninis, soups, and sandwiches for students and culinary connoisseurs alike. The restaurateur constantly crafts new paninis from recipes devised within the easy-bake oven of his mind, blending fresh ingredients such as ham and brie, or portobello, pepper, and mozzarella with thinly sliced bread for pleasing midday meals. Or embark on an epicurean expedition through Café Z’s menu of ever-changing entrees.
A flaky danish enfolds prunes and almond paste. A banana-cream pie sports tufts of fresh-whipped cream. There’s a certain nostalgic quality to the baked goods at La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppe, which is fitting for a place whose origins date back to 1952, the year nostalgia was discovered. Each morning, seasoned bakers whip up cupcakes, batches of real buttercream frosting, and sugar-laced pastries. They also knead dough for nearly a dozen varieties of bread including french, rye, and pumpernickel.
Though sweets are the shop’s focus, they have a full-catering menu with soups, sandwiches, and hot meals. In addition, they offer a wide variety of canned jams and salsa, plus organic dog treats.
Grill N Fill Bagels stops morning and midday hunger dead in its tracks with a menu of fresh-from-the-oven bagels, deli sandwiches, salads, and soups. Chefs boil and bake breakfast rings daily, serving 14 different flavors, including blueberry and whole wheat. Freshly sliced bagels are then cemented together with butter or cream-cheese spreads that are made from scratch every day. Lunchtime eaters can flip their favorite Third Eye Blind CD to choose between triple-decker clubs and the restaurant’s signature three-layer sloppy joes.
After a debilitating car accident left Elyissia Wassung’s mother, Barbara, unable to commute to work, she stayed busy in the kitchen, devising her own homemade chocolates. Nine-year-old Elyissia would then load her mother’s sweets into a shopping cart and sell them door-to-door around the neighborhood, learning entrepreneurial skills that would last a lifetime. After leaving a telecom job as an adult, Elyissia returned to selling chocolates by founding 2 Chicks with Chocolate (the other chick being her mom), teaming up with master chocolatier Patrick Coston and lead chocolatier Stephanie Vazquez. The dessert innovators create diverse flavors, such as spiced pear and caramel ganache, s’mores, and hazelnut praline, from scratch with spices and sea salt. Customers can also create their own bars online without venturing into the store, building on a selection of chocolate bases and toppings that range from pistachios to gummy bears. The store also hosts chocolate classes and enlivens parties with chocolate fountains and chocolate tastings.
Rockn' Joe Coffeehouse and Bistro fills diners' mouths with fresh-brewed coffee and deli fare, ears with classic rock, and eyes with walls covered in rock 'n' roll memorabilia, including electric guitars, vintage posters, and framed albums. Bellies can be treated to treats such as the oven-roasted turkey, brie, and tomato sandwich ($7.95), smoked-salmon-and-goat-cheese salad ($9.95), or the croissant french toast ($5.95). Rockn' Joe also has a coffee bar stocked with top-shelf lattes, hot teas, and coffee.
Inside Buttery Bake Shoppe, bakers spend their days crafting a range of homemade treats using only kosher ingredients. They create custom cakes, which they decorate for special occasions, or hearty loaves of bread that add a rustic feel to meals throughout the day. They are perhaps best known for their pastries and sweets, such as soft cookies straight from the oven or chocolate-covered brownies on a stick, which burst with rich flavors like a stock brokers' food fight.