Doing double duty as a hat maker to the stars, with his chapeaus topping the crowns of Eva Longoria and Charlize Theron, Naftali Abenaim possesses an artful eye. This aesthetic touch helped him in his time working as a pastry chef in Manhattan hotels and led him to open Mocha Bleu, where he uses his skills to appeal to diners’ tendencies to “eat with their eyes first.” To this end, Abenaim designed the restaurant to get people excited about his food before they even sit down, with transparent Philippe Starck seating, walls coated in silvery-blue mosaic, and crisp, white napkins at every table.
His kitchen constructs pescetarian- and vegetarian-friendly dishes with European flavors in what Abenaim calls generous, “American-sized portions,” as opposed to those scaled to Luxemburg. Presentation plays a large part in the appeal of his food. A French patisserie welcomes patrons upon entering, a comfortable lounge sports WiFi, and a cherry-wood burning oven stands in the center of the dining area, where chefs put a golden-brown edge on pizzas and calzones loaded with nonmeat ingredients, such as savory mock pepperoni and mock chicken or mock crabmeat and shrimp. The poutine embodies the regional cuisine of Abenaim’s Canadian home by presenting tables with a freshly baked pile of julienne fries topped with rich gravy and mozzarella.:m]]
A dollop of Irish Mint on a cornstarch spoon. Scoops of Caramel Oreo nestled within a biodegradable bowl. A drop of Luscious Lychee gently wiped away by a recyclable napkin. Go Greenly expertly combines two things that may seem like total opposites: mouthwatering indulgence and responsible conduct. But while the flavors might seem guilt-inducing, the fat-free recipe and made-fresh-daily status of the more than 20 frozen yogurts won't weigh down the conscience or the waistline.
Although the menu features classic favorites, such as french vanilla and red velvet, it also ventures into exotic realms. The signature flavor, Taro, for instance, comes from a tropical vegetable and imbues the creamy yogurt with a distinctly sweet-and-tart taste.
Though their careers are rooted in the comfort food of classic diners, according to NorthJersey.com, Main Street Grille and Tavern's owners wanted to recast the dishes they knew so well in friendlier, homier environs. That's why they opened the tavern, where chocolate-colored booths welcome diners to cluster around wood tables and savor grilled steaks and burgers, pasta drizzled with alfredo sauce, and customizable pizzas. Away from the dining room, the bar's flat screens flicker with the current sports game or election arm-wrestling match, and on some evenings, the music from local bands permeates the air.
Fast Eddie’s Billiards Cafe takes playing pool and drinking beer to the next level. Sure, the standard domestics are available, but besides the expected lagers and neon signs, Fast Eddie’s boasts an impressive menu of craft brews. More than 50 choices include Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Allagash White, and Smuttynose Robust porter. Imported beer, wine, and premium liquor are also available to add entertainment to billiards tournaments.
Sugar and Plumm manages to exude a distinctively French charm that appeals to the refined palates of all ages. The Parisian–inspired whimsical haven caters to virtually every taste bud by enlisting the talents of formally trained chefs, Parisian chocolatiers, and various ice cream makers and pastry chefs. Together, this team creates an eclectic assortment of sweet and savory treats, beginning from scratch whenever possible, and enjoyed while dining in or being delivered.
Executive Chef Ben Dodaro oversees the kitchen at the Upper West Side bistro, cooking a sophisticated combination of upscale yet familiar French classics and refined versions of American comfort foods. His team handles every piece of protein from start to finish by butchering, smoking, and curing all of the meats and fishes in-house. This extra bit of effort helps elevate dishes such as the waffles with crispy, free-range chicken, and it complements the classical elegance of dishes such as the salad with confit rabbit, heirloom carrots, and an orange-cider vinaigrette.
Sugar and Plumm’s savory offerings are only one small piece of the puzzle, though. Master French chocolatier Thierry Atlan and his team use raw, all-natural, sustainably farmed chocolate as they meticulously craft small batches of treats. The pastry chefs bake in two shifts every day, ensuring that the shelves are lined with fresh macarons and cakes, even while taking the time to make their own jams and jellies in-house. These chefs also prepare their own ice creams and sorbets from scratch, patiently allowing the flavors to meld and coalesce by using a process that, much like a book club discussion of The Oxford English Dictionary, takes two full days.
Espresso 77 is a convivial independent coffeehouse, serving its loyal clientele strong, full-flavored espresso in a bright, art-friendly space. Brewing beans from popular Ithaca-based Gimme! Coffee, the café's baristas place warm mugs of deeply aromatic cappuccinos ($3.60) and espressos ($2) into caffeine-craving hands. Complement bold java with a delicately sweet scone ($3) from Alice's Tea Cup or a Mom's-not-watching breakfast of frozen custard ($3.75) from Timmy O's. If the cafe's menu of coffees and teas gives your stomach the energy to draft a formal request for nourishment, order up one of the eatery's light and filling wraps ($6.50). For sweltering, mercury-rising days, the New Orleans–style iced coffee ($2.75–$4.50) will cool off foreheads faster than stepping into Mr. Freeze's cryogenic suit.