Food Artisans Take Jersey City

December 26, 2014 Updated: October 8, 2018

For an adventure, head west. But not too far. About 15 minutes on PATH will do. For across the waters of the Hudson, Jersey City and its lower rents are attracting new restaurants and artisan producers.

Over the last year, more and more spots have popped up, and more are opening soon: Raval, a wine and tapas bar (136 Newark Ave.); Hard Grove Café, with Cuban specialties (143 Newark); Talde Jersey City, from chef Dale Talde (8 Erie St.); and Monty’s Public House, a neighborhood bar and restaurant with a ’30s and ’40s aesthetic, to open March 2015 (130 Newark Ave.).

Here are some picks:

For That Perennial Ice Cream Craving
Emma Taylor’s little ice cream shop, at the edge of pretty Hamilton Park, will make ice cream lovers swoon.

Taylor, who worked as a pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, creates flavors like Peppermint Chocolate, Brown Sugar Oatmeal, and Milk and Cookies.

They’re the stuff of time travel. Their taste is transporting, taking you somewhere inside that will have you wax nostalgic, even if you don’t know for what exactly.

Flavors change according to the season. Thankfully you can find some of the most popular ones year-round: Vanilla Bean, Classic Chocolate (she uses Mast Brothers chocolate), Lemon Olive Oil, and a particularly fabulous Salted Caramel.

There are no eggs in Taylor’s ice cream. She uses milk and cream only from cows fed with organic grass.

Ice cakes are also offered here, as well as cookies to build ice cream sandwiches. Try the Stumptown Coffee ice cream sandwiched between the homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Dogs are included and welcomed. Reward yours with Puppy Froyo, topped off with a small dog treat.

Milk Sugar Love Creamery and Bakeshop
19 McWilliams Place
Jersey City, N.J.
Winter hours:
Tuesday–Sunday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

For a Coffee Fix
Modcup owners Justin Hicks and Travas Clifton are coffee evangelists. “Nobody knows coffee goes stale,” said Clifton. The two scour the world for the best coffee beans they can find, among the top 1 percent, with 90 points or higher awarded by Q graders certified by the Coffee Quality Institute.

They roast them at their own roastery in Jersey City every three days. Although they usually run out of any particular batch after seven days, regardless they will never use any beans 14 days after the roast date.

The cafe itself is tiny, part of its relaxed, cozy charm. In good weather, take your coffee out to the park across the street for gorgeous views of Manhattan. Or catch their Vintage 1969 Citroen van with a roaster installed onboard.

Free brewing classes are also offered.

Modcup cafe
479 Palisades Ave.
Jersey City Heights, N.J.
Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

For Bread and Butter, or Pizza
Dan Richer is a philosopher, tinkerer, and a lover of decay. “No one talks about fermentation,” he said. His ambition was to learn to make a good pizza crust, but along the way he learned to make bread. He brings great passion to something as simple as a bread and butter plate ($4). The flour for the bread is milled locally. The bread is leavened naturally with wild yeast. The butter is made in-house too, with cream from grass-fed Lancaster Valley cows.

His obsession with the combination of simplicity and the best ingredients touches everything. Try the Ceci, chickpeas with extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano ($5), and of course, the pizzas ($14–$19). The Brussels sprouts and bacon pizza is delicious.

Razza Pizza Artigianale
275 Grove St.
Jersey City, N.J.
Monday–Saturday 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m.

For Cheese and Wine
Classy but unpretentious, Third & Vine is a perfect spot for a date or to unwind. The lighting is warm and flattering, and in the background, silent movies are shown.

Fromager Jamie Mayne carefully pairs the 30-plus cheeses with condiments ($5 for each cheese for a cheeseboard), and the staff is happy to guide guests through the extensive and eclectic list of wines and spirits. The selection of small plates includes a Pickle Plate ($4), Mushroom Terrine ($7), and Braised Pork Belly ($9).

353 Third St. (between Newark and Brunswick)
Jersey City, N.J.
Sunday–Thursday 5 p.m.–midnight
Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.–2 a.m.

For a Rice Ball Snack
Koro Koro serves onigiri, Japanese-style rice balls. Prepared to order, the fillings span cultural traditions, from the Cuban (pork, black beans, plantains) to Yama Chicken (chicken, mountain vegetables, shredded coconut, cilantro, and green curry). A quick, portable snack.

Koro Koro Rice Ball Cafe
538 Jersey Ave.
Jersey City, N.J.
Monday–Saturday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Fine Dining in a Relaxed Setting
Open just last month, with plenty of elbowroom and an eclectic style, The Kitchen at Grove Station combines the concept of fine dining with a relaxed, café atmosphere. You’ll find folks enjoying dinner while at the same time folks work on their laptops. Somehow, the expansive space and artsy vibe makes it work.

Sunny windows give the restaurant brightness and liveliness. You could eat the day away here, starting with breakfast items like Crispy Pork Belly and Cheese Sandwich ($8), move on to a Prosciutto, Fig, and Arugula Sandwich ($9, with prosciutto di Parma piled high like roast beef would be) to Duck Confit in the evening ($14).

Chef David Viana presents the Kitchen Burger ($13) in a clever fashion that leaves many guests wide-eyed and jaw hanging. We won’t spoil the surprise for you, because it’s part of the experience and even the menu doesn’t give it away, but suffice it to say that once an order comes out, heads turn and orders for the burger pour in.

BYOB, with no corkage fee. It serves modcup coffee.

The Kitchen at Grove Station
299 Marin Blvd.
Jersey City, N.J.
Monday–Friday 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m.–3 p.m.