7 Reasons to Take the Train to Jersey City

By Emily Saladino  |  April 14, 2014

New Yorkers, take note: a culinary revolution is happening just a bridge and tunnel away. Jersey City, that PATH-adjacent all-star occasionally called "the sixth borough," is now home to some of the most creative cooking in the tri-state area. Lured by lower rents and larger spaces, big-city talent from the likes of Nobu and Momofuku has been quietly relocating to the coolest corner of the Garden State. Hungry straphangers feast on heritage smoked duck at a 12-seat chef’s table in the Heights, sample hand-spun truffles at a new sweets shop or carbo-load with creations by a Jersey strong James Beard favorite. Here are seven reasons to cross the river this spring.

  • Razza Pizza Artigianale

    Less is more at Razza, a Neapolitan pizza shop near the Grove St. PATH station. Chef Dan Richer, who received a 2011 James Beard nod for his Arturo’s restaurant in Maplewood, NJ, prepares eight straightforward pizzas - La Rossa, a cheese-free pie made with tomato sauce, Dolcetto wine and shaved onion, is a simple stunner - plus two salads, and a small-plates section that is largely devoted to variations on bread and butter. His understatement highlights Razza's impeccably sourced ingredients, like the creamy, Lancaster cow’s milk butter that tops slices of his housemade, naturally leavened bread.

    275 Grove St.; 201-356-9348

  • Cocoa Bakery

    Good things come to those who wait. In 2012, this Downtown debut from former Nobu pastry chef Jessica Isaacs was delayed by Superstorm Sandy, which left six feet of water in her street-level cafe. In October 2013, she finally opened what has already become a neighborhood institution for custom confections such as hand-spun whoopie pies and habit-forming brownie cake truffles. She also throws dessert and wine pairing evenings, hosted in partnership with nearby Cool Vines wine shop.

    275 Grand St.; 201-830-3430

  • Orange and Olive Chef’s Table

    Orange and Olive, a popular Jersey City Heights caterer since 2011, launched the city’s first chef’s table in January 2014. Available Wednesday through Saturday, the 10-course tasting menus are served at a 12-seat communal table within the company’s industrial-sleek kitchen. Chef Sam Fertik focuses on local, seasonal fare, like Hudson Valley duck confit, candy-striped beet salad and local fluke with ginger and yuzu. Reservations are essential for the 12-seat counter.

    398 Central Ave.; 866-247-2520

  • Taqueria Downtown

    Started as a food truck eight years ago, Taqueria is now a brick-and-mortar mainstay for homespun, Northern Mexican cooking with an Angeleno accent. It has since spawned an outpost on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the owners are eyeing a Brooklyn expansion. Down on Grove Street, locals soak up the ‘80s Venice Beach vibe, courtesy of vintage movie posters, plastic-basket tableware and the occasional episode of CHiPs playing quietly the background. Mexican-American husband and wife Phil and Andrea Barraza cook up family favorites like potato flautas topped with salsa and cream fresca, Machaca burritos and fresh fish tacos that are an absolute steal at $2.50 a pop.

    236 Grove St.; 201-333-3220

  • Park & Sixth Gastropub

    After mastering homemade mozzarella at his Hoboken deli, Brian Dowling opened a casual neighborhood restaurant in Downtown Jersey City in 2010. Last October, he added this lively gastropub to his growing Garden State footprint. Located in Paulus Hook, Dowling’s latest serves elevated pub grub like dry-aged Wagyu burgers, roasted curry cauliflower and an irresistibly indulgent mac 'n' Brie, alongside craft beers and cocktails like the Mel Breeze, made with Nolet’s gin, honey, fresh lime and soda. If your boots were made for rocking, come out on Tuesday nights, when the space hosts live local bluegrass bands.

    247 Washington St.; 201-630-4184

  • Thirty Acres

    This seasonal spot opened in a high-ceilinged corner lot on Jersey Avenue in April 2012. Run by husband-wife duo Kevin and Alex Pemoulie, both alums of David Chang’s award-winning Momofuku empire in Manhattan, Thirty Acres combines globe-trotting culinary influences with hyperlocal ingredients. Nab a table near the window in the 32-seat space, and tuck into East Coast oysters with wintry beet cocktail sauce, a rich Carbonara made with local duck eggs and salt cod tortellini in kohlrabi broth, dashed with bracing chile oil.

    500 Jersey Ave.; 201-435-3100

  • Talde

    Need proof that Jersey City is the next Brooklyn? Dale Talde, the Top Chef contender with two well-reviewed restaurants in Park Slope, is currently plotting his Garden State debut. Talde is partnering with HGTV stars Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri to open a branch of his eponymous Asian-American restaurant alongside an Italian market, Carrino Provisions. Housed in an 1892 warehouse previously occupied by the local police department, the culinary outpost is just around the corner from Jersey City’s own Barcade, an offshoot of Williamsburg’s popular craft beer and gaming mecca. Start preparing for your pilgrimage now.

    8 Erie St.; no phone