The peanut-butter slathered sandwiches at the Peanut Butter Blues Cafe happily swim in a sea of thirst quenchers and open-mic sound waves. Nutty connoisseurs can expand their palates with sandwiches including the Junglicious, which partners peanut butter with honey, cinnamon, and fresh bananas ($5), or the Guitar Hero, a concoction of peanut butter, wild honey, and blackberry jam ($5). The café also outputs heftier sandwiches, such as the Smoked Salmon BLT ($9) and the Hungry Man From Siberia, comprised of meat dumplings, mushrooms, sour cream, and dill ($10). For liquid fuel, open-mic enthusiasts can snag steamy espressos ($2), chilled orange-chocolate shakes ($5), or the too-cool-for-simple PB Blues house shake, which unites bananas, peanut butter, chocolate, and walnuts ($6).
Artful twists on classic recipes reign at Rose Valley Cafe and Grille. Charred octopus shares a plate with lentil salad and herbs. Grilled polenta pairs up with braised beef short ribs. Spicy avocado, pickled tomato, and ginger add a piquant flair to cured salmon. When the elegant meals draw to a close, customers' dessert-trowels dip into housemade ice cream and cheesecake, the varieties of which change daily, unlike the pope's fashion statements.
After more than a decade following different paths in the restaurant industry, friends Donny Giordano and Pellegrino Mongillo merged their culinary passions into Pellegrino's Restaurant & Lounge. In the kitchen, chef Mongillo—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—and his staff combine fresh, seasonal ingredients into dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy. Fresh seafood crops up in the octopus bruschetta and the scallop-, shrimp-, and mussel-flecked orzo. Other offerings include seared hangar steak with provolone and cavatelli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken.
In the main dining space, servers glide across tiled floors to wood tables set under arched doorways. Behind a granite bar, bartenders mix specialty flavored martinis and pour a range of international wines.
Nestled inside a Victorian home, Blooming Hearts Treasure Shop, a winner of Bergen Health & Life magazine's 2012 Readers' Choice Award for Best Gift Shop, tempts the quaint and the whimsical with shelves and cases full of heart- and flower-themed gifts for women, children, and the home. A kaleidoscope of color and cornucopia of scents, it offers handmade and wearable art and accessories, as well as indulgent bath and body products and garden tools. To put a finishing touch on each gift, the staff offers free giftwrapping, and the shop's tables and vividly colored play space for kids welcome guests to linger, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
A teapot dangles from the ceiling, poised to pour tea into the three cups waiting beneath it. It's not a quirky new way to enjoy tea, but a light fixture in the homey space at Harmony Tea House.
Eccentric, yet charming, with mismatched chairs and tableware, teatime here is reminiscent of an afternoon spent in a cozy home, which is likely why the readers of Bergen Health & Life magazine named it Best Tea House 2013. Fragrant pots of tea in 23 loose-leaf varieties accompany just-baked scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets during tea time, which may also include servings of the two seasonal soups and salads offered every day.
In addition to traditional afternoon tea, Harmony Tea Room hosts events such as Mommy and Me teas and brunch every third Sunday of the month. And of course, it's a relaxing setting for baby showers, book clubs, and birthday parties for stuffed animals dressed in their finest tutus.