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).
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.
Since 1983, Gimmee Jimmy's Cookies has made from scratch every piece of fresh-baked goodness with high-quality ingredients, ensuring that treats are Kosher and kind to taste receptors. Jimmy's cookies (five for $4) are a sweet tooth’s friend and a sour tooth’s Kryptonite, salivating mouths with flavors such as chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, cranberry pecan, and Heath bar crunch. For dessert desirers seeking more dimension in their delectables, Gimmee Jimmy also offers oversized stuffed cupcakes ($2.99 each), available in fanciful flavors such as red velvet, German chocolate, s’mores, blueberry, and cookie dough. Haters of the wheat can enjoy gluten-free versions of lemon-nut cookies ($2.99 for three), coconut macaroons ($2.99 for three), and chocolate-chip brownies ($2.99 each).
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.