Archive for September, 2007

Polish Meltdown

September 26, 2007

Sad news from the world of Jersey City last week. Tania’s one of our favorite restaurants in the Garden State shut its doors. The polish eatery on Grove St. has been vacant for the past couple of months now and no word on what will ultimately replace it.

Trouble started over the winter when the polish family that owned Tania’s sold and the new owner attempted to add some Turkish items to the polish cuisine. People went to Tania’s for the hearty eastern European fare not funky fusion.

Anyway, we raise a hearty glass of  Zywiec to Tanias and will say a prayer that someone, somewhere has the recipie for their potato pancakes.

JC

Playoff Fever Hits Newark

September 21, 2007

There’s another week of baseball season left — good for Yankee fans not so much for Met fans — but if you have a yen for playoff baseball there are games this weekend in the Garden State.

The Newark Bears take on the Somerset Patriots 7:05 p.m. tonight in Bridgewater in a five game series to decide the Atlantic League Championship. The series shifts to Newark on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday if necessary.

JC

Best Places in NJ: The Meadowlands?

September 20, 2007

As a lifelong Giants fan Jerseycool’s heart always skips a beat on Route 3 when passing the soon to be torn down stadium. But even we would be hard pressed to call the Meadowlands a work of art.

Surprise, surprise the Sports Complex made the list off “150 Best Buildings and Places.

Other places of note include Penn Station in Newark, Newark Symphony Hall, Liberty Science Center, Lucy the Elephant and Montclair’s very own downtown district.

NJ.com has a nice piece about the list on its site today.

The list was compiled by the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects and obviously there will be a considerable amount of debate. For example, in Morris County the Vanderbuilt-Twombly Mansion atThe Mansion at FDU Fairleigh Dickinson University was left off the list, as were the grounds, which for this alumni were quite stunning and designed by the same fella who did that big park in the middle of Manhattan. Let’s call that one a miss.

The Mansion at FDU

To each his own. The list is high on parks and buildings but ommits the state’s sprawling civil engineering achievements, such as the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Pulaski Skyway. I dare anyone to drive the pike at night near Exit 13 and not be awed by the sheer industrial art. Or pass through Cheesequake State Park on the Parkway and not be floored as to how the road and natural landscape form an almost seamless union.

JC

Crowds Haven’t Petered Out at Cuban Pete’s But Food Sure is Tasty

September 19, 2007

Cuban Pete’s
428 Bloomfield Ave
Montclair
973-746-1100

Cuban Pete’s, Montclair most crowded restaurant, is something of a mixed bag. It clearly is the party restaurant of choice in Jersey’s restaurant capitol. The place you go for atmosphere, the place you show off to friends and get a pitcher of sangria, albeit Shirley Temple-strength. However, the food can be hit or miss and the crowds can simply be annoying.

We checked out Cuban Pete’s on Labor Day weekend hoping that the holiday may have thinned out the crowds but apparently everyone else in town had the same idea. It was a 10 minute wait in the cramped alcove, not bad, but we really had hoped that by now the restaurant would have done more to make waiting for a table more comfortable.

Still, all things considered, 10 minutes isn’t that bad, we got a seat inside and had probably our best meal at the Cuban joint. Now, don’t misconstrue our food comments, we’ve never had a bad meal at Cuban Pete’s, it’s just that we’ve never been floored either. Culinary, Cuban Pete’s has always left us wanting a bit more.

The paella has always been OK. The grilled meat serviceable but nothing special They do make some mean plantains and this coming from a decided non fan of the banana relative but plantains will only get you so far.

Happy to report that for the first time Cuban Pete’s lived up to the hype.

The night did not start off promising. We ordered the goat cheese fritters, one of our favorites, and normally the balls of fried cheese are perfect but this batch just didn’t have the same bling as on others occasions.

It was an inauspicious beginning.

Cuban Pete’s has a nice selection of fish dishes but face it, this is a meat lover’s paradise. I opted for a ground beef and rice dish while C spotted one of her favorite dishes on the menu and ordered the suckling pig.

We were not disappointed. The ground beef was perfectly done and the suckling pig was moist and juicy. We also have to say the service was good for a packed place. When Cuban Pete’s first opened there were obviously some false steps. We won’t even go into the whole is there or isn’t there alcohol in the sangria debate.

But the restaurant has become part of Montclair culture and it looks like the food has improved dramatically. We’d like to see a Web site, perhaps one that took reservations to help cut down on the waiting, but Cuban Pete’s isn’t just a fun night out anymore, it’s also got some good eats going for it as well.

JC