Newark’s Best Restaurants for International and American Cuisine in Summer 2013
Dining around the world: Newark’s restaurant scene is as tasty as it is diverse.
Dina Barcuko and Ramadan Aldiab of Ali Baba
Photograph by Emily Duck
Ali Baba, Newark’s premier contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant, offers inspired Mediterranean cuisine. It offers dishes from Lebanon, Israel and Morocco, creating a culinary journey for the palate and senses.
Bashar al Barouqi and his brothers, Ousamah and Hecham, opened the restaurant in October 2001. “We like the Newark area because it has a lot of educated people,” he says. “They’ve been around. They know a lot. They’re open-minded.”
The restaurant uses fresh ingredients. It also offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan selections. The family is intimately involved in the day-to-day operations. “We do everything ourselves,” says Bashar. “We serve. We are very friendly to the customers. We know many, if not all, of them.”
Ali Baba offers an impressive list of wines from all over the world, featuring favorites from Morocco, Lebanon, France, Italy and California. The decor is authentically Moroccan and exquisitely appointed with exotic earth-toned tapestries. The restaurant offers customers the option to sit at a sofa or enjoy regular table seating. There’s even a hookah bar on the front patio, where patrons can also order food and drinks.
“The hookah bar helps us to draw more attention and people,” says Bashar al Barouqi. (alibabacuisine.com)
Ali Baba is just one of many restaurants giving Newark a dash of international flavor—and a pinch of American.
Banh Mi Boy’s Franco-Viet hoagies have attracted a cult-like following. In addition to the original, there are roast pork, meatball, beef and vegetarian varieties. Pair your choice with a cup of bubble-tea-licious pearl milk tea or traditional Vietnamese drip coffee—strong, bold and insanely good. (banhmiboy.com)
Thanks to owner Ryan German’s culinary curiosity, Caffé Gelato has been giving Newark a taste of Northern Italian cuisine and homemade gelato for more than 13 years. “I like learning about food, and I like the variety we have here,” he says. From the granite-topped bar to the wine cellar, which features more than 1,500 bottles and 100 varietals, to that constantly changing menu and gelato flavors, Caffé Gelato offers an experience like nowhere else in Newark. (caffegelato.net)
Café Ole has creatively captured the true spirit of the Spanish tradition of tapas. Slice some aged quesos, fork up some steaming paella, and wash it all down with a swirl of sangria. If that doesn’t tempt you, try resisting sumptuous desserts like pastel de chocolate and tres leches. (733-7505)
Simply put, Cucina di Napoli is about great food, great prices, great service and a casual atmosphere. Where else can patrons spend as little as $10 or as much as $30—all at the same table? Don’t pass up the chance to dine al fresco in warm weather—a real ambiance-enhancer. (cucinadinapoli.com)
Other great fare from around the world can also be found at Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, Santa Fe Mexican Grill, Yi Palace, Catherine Rooney’s, Kildare’s Irish Pub, Mediterranean Grille, Mizu, and Indian Sizzler.
Of course, American cuisine is also well represented. Whether it’s the signature swirl or the legendary taste, the folks at Grotto Pizza have been keeping the pizza-gorging public satisfied for more than 50 years. This is a great family place where the customer always comes first. (grottopizza.com)
It may look unassuming, but Margherita’s Pizza has cracked the code for great New York-style pizza—not to mention pasta, entrées, strombolis, calzones, steaks, hot and-cold subs, and appetizers—all at affordable prices. Grab and go, or dine in. (margheritaspizza-newark.com)
Claymont Steak Shop has the best cheesesteak you’ll taste outside Philadelphia. It’s the only Delaware steak shop honored with a listing in the Great Philly Cheese Steak Book. “Customers say they have never had a cheesesteak like this anywhere,” says owner Demi Kollias. Additional offerings include salads, wraps, appetizers and gourmet pizza, all served in a chic, modern environment splashed with vibrant colors. There’s a nice beer selection, too. (claymontsteakshop.com)
It may look different to patrons of a certain age, but The Deer Park Tavern is still the Deer Park. “A lot of college kids come here and, after they graduate, they still like to come back,” says manager Ed Settan. When the sit-down dining crowd leaves, it’s back to old times, with cover bands and dancing. Did we mention those famous nachos? (deerparktavern.com)
Vegans and carnivores find common ground at Home Grown Café. Create your own entrée, or choose from standard fare. Depending on the night, there’s live music to enjoy with friends or by yourself. (homegrowncafe.com)
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is the go-to place for hand-crafted beers, creative American cuisine and a casual, upscale environment. The menu is expansive and varied, making it easy for anyone to find something that suits their tastes. There are appetizers, big plates, entrée salads and healthy options from veggies to pub grub to sophisticated seafood and pasta dishes. (ironhillbrewery.com)
Jake’s Wayback Burgers is big on fresh ingredients. From its humble beginnings on Ogletown Road, Jake’s is now pleasing palates as far away as California. That’s thanks to its fresh-cut beef, house-made chips, hand-dipped shakes, 100-percent beef hot dogs and veggie burgers. (waybackburgers.com)
Next time you visit Klondike Kate’s, don’t be surprised if your server asks if you’d like a glass of wine. A recent renovation added more dining space and converted the basement to a wine cellar. “Kate’s will always be a great place to grab a beer, but we’re raising the bar, so to speak,” says manager Bob Baker. Selections like Prisoner, Justice and Fingerprints are sure to keep customers engaged and add to the mystique of this Victorian building, which once housed the town jail. (klondikekates.com)
When it comes to comfort food, Meltdown knows that grilled cheese is comfiest. But as much as we love the classic American recipe, trying different cheeses and add-ons can be rewarding. For the ultimate comfort-food experience, check out the grilled mac ’n’ cheese sandwich. For dessert, go for the grilled ice cream sandwich. (meltdowngc.com)