New York Women's Culinary Alliance

Nom Nom Newark

Antonio Valla gave us a tour of downtown Newark.

Nom Nom Newark

By Amy Stern / 19-Nov-2016

What a fantastic day! The weather was surprisingly warm for November as we set out to discover some of the culinary secrets of Newark, NJ. Our tour guide, Antonio, is an urban planner and Newark resident, who took us to four amazing restaurants, each a gem in their own right. In between each stop, we were enlightened about Newark’s history and architecture, especially several new revitalization projects, including a Whole Foods market coming soon.

Our first stop was Hobby’s, a traditional Jewish deli that has been a Newark institution since 1962. As we devoured our fresh corned beef and pastrami sandwiches on Russian rye, Marc Brummer, the owner, stopped by our table to share the colorful history of Hobby’s vibrant business during Newark’s heyday and its struggles during the early sixties as many left for suburbs. Holding on to tradition and the business his father built, Marc and his brother Sam, have been rewarded with the recent renaissance that has brought the Prudential Center and a host of new restaurants to the city. Next up was Burger Walla featuring Indian-inspired burgers, each boasting a melting pot of flavors that while hard to describe were irresistible. The lamb burger was topped with goat cheese, caramelized onions, spicy pickles and a secret sauce that caused them to disappear as soon as they hit the table. The owner greeted us and as he spoke, the food just kept coming:  Punjabi-style samosas, mango and banana lassi (yogurt milk shake), sweet potato “tots” and several other burger options.

Next on the tour and almost next door, was Freetown Cafe, a delightful Jamaican-fusion spot. The décor was bright and cheery and the owner welcomed us warmly. She shared the history of the restaurant as we nibbled on tamarind wings and jerk chicken. Next we were served an assortment of panini with a Jamaican twist, for example, jerk Portabella on ciabatta with avocado and sweet plantains. We also savored curried chicken salad and avocado stuffed with arugula and almonds. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, we headed to our last stop, but thanks to our abundant questions regarding the architectural gems we passed, we stretched out the time until we built up an appetite for Redd’s Biergarten. Somehow, we made room for the amazing spread before us: bratwurst, weisswurst and kielbasa with rye bread, spaetzle, purple cabbage, schnitzel and sauerbraten. We washed it all down with an assortment of beers and everyone left “full” of optimism for what lies ahead for New Jersey’s largest city. 

Lamb Burgers and Sweet Potato Tots

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