Summer is nearly here and what better way to cool down than an icy cold, fruity, refreshing cocktail? Bibi’z Restaurant and Lounge invited us in to try two new summer cocktails that scored high in terms of taste, refresh-factor and smoothness. This restaurant continues to stick to its tradition of unusual, thoughtfully-crafted dishes and cocktails, emphasizing local, seasonal fare.
Ida Martin, founder of Bibi’z, gave us a demonstration of the new cocktails recently. Her new margarita, Good Karma, is a subtle combination of refreshing orange slices which is complemented by fresh basil leaves. Ida slightly muddles up the two ingredients before adding a touch of Karma tequila, a splash of lime juice as well as a splash of triple sec topped off with sour soda. After shaking everything up, Ida adds a final touch of orange juice. This colorful drink is a delicious concoction with a lovely balance of flavor and subtle sweetness.
Ida also introduced us to her revisited SummerLemonade made with pineapple vodka and an infusion of watermelon and cucumber. The drink consists, on one hand, of a splash of sour soda, a fair amount of lemonade, topped with pineapple vodka. Ida then muddles up on the side the watermelon and the cucumber before adding the mix to the rest of the drink along with ice. The cocktail is a surprising marriage of flavors that together are the tastes of summer with a little bite. This elegant cocktail keeps its promise of offering a refreshing delight.
It always seems to be happy hour at Bibi’z – although it’s officially offered six days a week from 3.00PM to 6.30PM. But these cocktails are recommended equally for a relaxing brunch, lunch or dinner as they offer sexy sipping that is equal parts summer and refreshing.
Bibi’z Restaurant | Lounge
Fri-Sat 12p-11p (Bar until 12a) Sun Brunch 11a-3p | Dinner 3p-9p
284 Center Avenue
Westwood, New Jersey 07675
Originally founded by Funbars Hospitality owners Michael Sinensky and Sean McGarr, Little Town expanded from New York into New Jersey this past spring into Hoboken. Funbars partnered with Albie and Chris Manzo, the sons of Caroline Manzo, one of the recently exiting stars on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” on Bravo when opening their Hoboken location. I took my teenage daughter, Olivia, to the restaurant to sample a new menu from Little Town’s 25 year old executive chef, Jordan Andino.
A native of Toronto and Philippino master chef, Andino has a degree from Cornell University’s Hotel School of Administration, the nation’s leading hospitality school and credits his culinary expertise to his father, also a chef. Andino scrapped 90% of the existing Little Town menu when he was brought in to helm the restaurant a couple months ago. He replaced them with some lighter, female-friendly options although the menu has lots of man grub remaining.
The standout on my visit was braised short rib served over a taro root mash ($26) and topped with the chef’s own 9-hour prepared sriracha demi-glace. The taro root mash was buttery, smooth and loaded with nutty sweetness, a nice counter to the lush richness of the tender beefiness of the short rib. The viscous demi-glace was luxuriously flavored and textured.
The lunch menu is split up into 5 sections: Little Town Bites, which consist of appetizers including their popular Little Town Rice Balls that are the perfect size for a bite of ham and cheese on the inside of a crispy, browned exterior. Little Town Sliders and Dogs offers five types of sliders and two types of hot dogs of choice. Three sliders are served with each order. Sammy Town offers twelve sandwich options and the last two menu sections comprise soups and salads along with wings. The prices of lunch selections range from $7-$15. Caroline Manzo’s own recipe for meatballs is incorporated into the menu and is available in a sandwich version or atop red sauce with a large garlic bread slice. They were tasty and fried for a crispy exterior which gave way to a tender, beef interior.
The dinner menu offers extensions from the lunch menu. The main section of the menu consists of Little Town Big Tastes, which range from carbonara, linguini tossed in parmesan, egg, green peas, roasted garlic and pancetta ($18), a bit dry on our visit, to the braised short rib mentioned above ($26). Little Town offers a wide array of entrée options, from seafood to salmon. Entrees range from $14-26.
For guests with a sweet tooth, Andino remakes one of his childhood memories with the dessert selection, Traditional Funnel Cake. Order it “Carnival Style” and it will arrive with acombination of traditional funnel cake topped with the house-made berry compote, 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream and powdered sugar, at no extra charge. Tell them Redhead With A Fork sent you.
Talking to Oguz Buyukbas, owner of BareBurger in Edgewater, NJ
When we talk about organic, sustainable, all-natural food we tend to devote a lot of attention to fruits and veggies while giving meat the cold shoulder. That’s because the meat found in many restaurants and grocery stores contains traces of pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics – a far cry from organic. But environmentally conscious carnivores in the tri-state area can rejoice because the restaurant micro-chain BareBurger is demonstrating that you don’t have to take meat off the menu to be sustainable.
BareBurger started back in 2009 in Astoria and has since expanded into eight restaurants with more on the way. At the invitation of BareBurger, we had the opportunity to try out their brand new Edgewater, NJ location. There’s a sophisticated, earthy vibe that fills the space with glass garage doors serving as a front facade in the tony City Place complex. The bamboo floor, tables and chairs made from reclaimed wood add to that atmosphere while driving home the fact the BareBurger is concerned with sustainability.
Our server was friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu, where the food comes from, and so on. I was particularly impressed with the sheer variety of items on BareBurger’s menu – not to mention the fact that the majority of items are organic. They proudly emphasize the fact that their meat comes from free range animals that were humanely raised without the use of pesticides or other substances. All dairy, produce and even ice cream are organic.
Carnivorous fare – with standard options like beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb along with more exotic alternatives like elk, bison, and ostrich, are the primary draw and offered up in a tantalizing array of themes and with myriad toppings. Milkshakes and root beer floats were promptly ordered (16 oz., thank you) and come with a shovel-ended straw for sipping convenience. My daughter Olivia thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate milkshake with dark chocolate chunks suspended in the rich, custardy conconction. Shakes also come in vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, and raspberry flavors ($6.95 for 16 oz.). Multiple salads are offered and dressings taste homemade and fresh. The caesar dressing went over well. Fries are hand-cut and portions are large, arriving with dipping sauces. Thick cut onion rings are freshly battered and crispy.
Burgers were cooked as ordered and nicely flavored, even if somewhat eclipsed by the brioche bun. BareBurger offers gluten-free buns. Multiple varieties of buns are available. You get the concept: start with the 6 oz. bare burger (animal of your choice) and build from there. The location is right across the street from the multiplex theater and I imagine it’s caught on quickly in its first month+ of business as a good dinner option pre- or post-movie. It’s worthy as a destination as well though and is popular with the stroller set. Large flat screens are tuned to cartoons (muted) while rock plays in the background.
Desserts are unexpectedly decadent, presented with decoration in the style of fancier eateries. The flourless chocolate cake (GF) with amarena cherries was decadently rich as was apple tart. Milk shakes are listed under desserts/sweets, and for good reason. The hot honey milk shake is on my must-have list for my next visit. Multiple options for breakfast diners are also available. Menu items are all noted with a GF for gluten-free, V for vegan and N for nuts. Numerous wrap and sandwich options are offered as well.
Cranberry Blue Salad
View their full menu and restaurant locations by visiting their website at http://www.bareburger.com/. Oguz, the owner, tells me he has plans to open several more BareBurgers in the Garden State, with Ridgewood his next stop.
Edgewater, NJ 07020
tel: 201.941.2273 (BARE)
Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.