You can find kosher restaurants in most cities with sizable Torah observant Jewish populations, but Teaneck is so large it can boast two different strips of kosher restaurants and shops – one along Cedar Lane, and another along Queen Anne’s Rd. Both are not far from Route 4 where you can find much additional shopping, including the large malls of Paramus, NJ (closed on Sunday). The Jewish community of Teaneck (and Bergenfield, where the community has spilled over into) is known for being a bastion of “Modern Orthodoxy”. It also includes plenty of less than Torah observant Jews along with more “yeshivish” Jews with many yeshivas and some very large synagogues. Situated about 5 miles from the George Washington Bridge, it is not far from New York City.
This review is not intended to complete. First, it is limited to restaurants which have been in business for some time, so as not to include restaurants which are likely to disappear just as quickly as they appeared. Margins are often thin, expenses are high, and you don’t need a degree to open a restaurant. However, running a good restaurant is a challenge, even without the different set of business challenges and benefits of being a kosher restaurant. There are also restaurants I simply haven’t been to or won’t discuss for reasons of “loshon hora” (speaking badly about something, and in this case, potentially harming someone’s business). Your comments are welcome.
I am judging in the following categories: food, price, decor, hours, and service. If the restaurant is closed at odd times, it gets knocked down. If the service is slow, rude, or immodestly dressed, it also gets knocked down. My judgment is based on my own subjective experience with comments of how it compares to the “traif” variety. I came into Torah observance later in life and have plenty of experience with all sorts of “traif” restaurants. Price will tend to be higher for kosher places (kosher food costs more in many cases) as there is often an extra staff member required to oversee the food preparation at all times. The food, unfortunately, is known to be not as good but that is changing rapidly with, for one, the influx of people like me who are used to better quality, and for two, the maturing of the kosher market with every greater diversity and competition in a growing market. The difference between the quality in Teaneck restaurants now and even ten years ago is amazing.
As far as I am aware, all the restaurants are certified by the RCBC, the kashrus for Bergen County, New Jersey. Check their website before you go to make sure that still holds true. Each restaurant is linked to it’s own website as well.
Legend: “(C)” refers to the Cedar Lane strip, at about the 400-500 range on Cedar Lane. “(Q)” refers to the Queen Anne Rd strip, and side streets at about 1400 Queen Anne Rd.
These are both “upscale” and hoity and/or toity places. The waiters wear suit or suit-like things. The primary dish is … steak. The secondary dish is … another kind of steak. You can also get fish.
Nobo (C) has it’s own parking lot on a long narrow stretch of land, as is the free-standing building that houses the restaurant. In the winter, they somehow have a fresh flower on each table and the waitresses dress somewhat-but-not-really up to Jewish modesty standards while seeming to have been properly trained and are professional. Service is also pretty quick considering they’re cooking you a 10 or 20 oz steak. The food is excellent. The salads are amazing and fresh, the soup is amazing, and they have a large pepper grinder for fresh pepper as well as little rolls with separate bread plates and olive oil. It’s very much up to traif standards.
Food: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦ / Service: ♦♦♦♦♦
I give the food rating not because the steaks are that much better than traif (they’re about the same) but because the accouterments are so much better than average.
Price … it’s about $65/person with an appetizer, main course, and tip. This doesn’t cover dessert. This place is not cheap, but compared to it’s counterparts in Manhattan … it is. The portion sizes are also fairly sizable.
Decor … it’s up against a train line on a very narrow strip of land. Thankfully, it doesn’t have anything so obnoxious as valet parking, as one would expect at many traif varieties of such a restaurant, but the whole building is narrow and a bit dark in there. Everything is black with dim lights. Still, comparing it to many of other kosher restaurants in Teaneck, it’s great.
ETC Steakhouse (C) is a bit more boxy. The food is in smaller portions than Nobo, and it wasn’t as much to my taste. Still good, but lacks a parking lot hurting it in the “Decor” category compared to Nobo. The staff did not know what items were gluten free and what not (a dietary requirement of someone I was with who has Celiac disease), but still just as ‘fancy’ as Nobo.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦/ Service: ♦♦♦♦
The food is still “better than traif” of it’s kind, but the portions are smaller causing it lose a star. Decor … no parking lot, though there is a large municipal one right next door.
The hours of both places are strange. They are not open Sunday, despite what’s on their websites. They are not open Saturday night, which is prime time for going out in the winter for a Shabbos observant person. So they both get “-5”. You have to find a weekday night to go them, really. That means Monday – Thursday. That’s silly, though I understand a restaurant of this caliber being closer after Shabbos because it’s hard to have things fresh and up to your standards when you have to rush to open, using food from Friday.
Shalom Bombay (C) serves Indian food. The best Indian food I ever had was in Japan of all places (I’ve never been to India…) and this restaurant certainly is not up to what I’d expect from the traif variety, but is still “good”. The service is great, the decor is great, the spice variety is great … but the meat tends to be of a fattier variety and I’m spoiled by a mother who wrote a cookbook and growing up and deciding to make na’an (a kind of Indian bread) with me. Eating it here … it’s just not as fresh and meat tends to have a good deal of fat on it. Still, I’m being picky. I once helped arrange a networking event here with 30+ lawyers (mostly of the non-Jewish type) who thought it was very good. For someone who is used to all sorts of non-kosher Indian restaurants, you’ll think “this place is kind of good.” For someone who hasn’t experienced Indian cuisine before, I think you’ll really like it.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦/ Service: ♦♦♦♦♦
It gets these ratings because, well, it is expensive and the food is good, but not amazing. The decor, in my opinion, is very much up to what I’d expect from a nice restaurant. It is also open every day for lunch and dinner, including after Shabbos in the winter.
Sushi Metsuyun (Q) is … a sushi place, really. They have some other meat dishes and the like. I think it has improved in recent years and it’s certainly good. (I much prefer Kyo Sushi and Steakhouse in Monsey, NY, but this is a Teaneck article). The restaurant is part of a chain of a quite a few, of varying quality and decor. It appears they are independently run.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Service: ♦♦♦
It gets marked down in the “decor” department because it’s basically a store front with big glass window with seating for maybe 25. I’m usually not impressed with the waitress staff here, but this varies.
Estihana gets honorable mention – it’s another sushi restaurant. The variety in Manhattan is excellent and right next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have not been to the newly opened location in Teaneck so I can’t rate it yet.
Smokey Joe’s (C) has had conversations with me about how kosher restaurants get away with all sorts of quality issues that they shouldn’t. He knows his food and does all the “slow cooking” and marinating of meat and so forth that you’d find at a “Friday’s” or “Bennigan’s”. This restaurant has won various awards for it’s food and you see plenty of non-Jews eating here, despite the higher expense of kosher meat. This is a very good sign. On Saturday night’s in the winter, there is a band each week. This adds a cover charge and they aren’t always the most impressive bands, but well, it’s a valiant effort. When the place fills up, service does get slower and it’s sometimes hard to catch a waitor, but the food is generally very good and the owner cares.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Service: ♦♦♦+(1/2)
Moca Bleu (Q) (pronounced by my kids as, “makabul”) is the newest of the three, boasting on their menu their $5000+ bar mitzvah and bris catering packages. With a hot brick pizza over behind the counter, superb dessert/pastry counter, and wide variety of food served you can find something you like here. One of my kids loves the personal pizzas. They’re really quite good. Stay away from most of the appetizers … they’re mostly overpriced, small portioned, and not so great. The sushi is decent. The fish and chips lunch special I once ordered was excellent. The decor … that’s up to your taste. Some people hate the tin can metallic feel of the place, along with the very light clear plastic chairs. When it’s busy, you can’t hear a thing with the sounds bouncing off the walls and high ceiling with visible air ducts. The modesty level of the waitresses leaves a great deal to be desired, and as a Torah observant Jew can be uncomfortable. One time a waitress tried to tell me a 20% tip was the norm. If you are careful when you go and what you order, this place is often excellent, however. It also has many gluten free options.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦+(1/2) / Hours: ♦♦♦ / / Service: ♦♦♦+(1/2)
One note – it gets marked down on the “hours” category because we’ve gone sometimes to find it closed for private parties.
Rabica (Q) had some pretty decent food. It’s right next to Sushi Metsuyun, having the same sort of “window shop” feel with a large glass window in front of a narrow room. This is even more narrow, having the counter take up much of the space. We liked the food, but it sure is on the tiny / claustrophobic side for a restaurant. If it were anywhere else but Teaneck, still, I’d have no complaints … I’d only be singing it’s praises for being a great kosher restaurant in Omaha, NE. It’s only because there’s so much else to compare it to that I can even find fault with this.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$$ / Decor: ♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦ // Service: ♦♦♦♦
Shelley’s (C) has been around forever. It has booths like a diner, only nicer and cleaner. The food has varied over the years, but they start you off with some bread and butter and have lots of pasta dishes, mainly. The same owner’s own “Noah’s Ark” across the street, a meat restaurant. I much prefer Shelley’s which I go back to from time to time.
Food: ♦♦♦♦ / Price: $$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦ / / Service: ♦♦♦♦♦
Dougies, Gotham Burger, and Noah’s Ark go here. My opinion of buying a hamburger at a kosher restaurant is … buy some chop meat at the supermarket and throw it on the grill. You’ll spent $5 – $10 per meal and it will be better.
Dougies (C) is known for it’s subs as well as burgers. I don’t know … a proper submarine sandwich from a good privately run sub place of the traiff variety … that was something good. Dougies does not impress me in quality or taste. The restaurant is big. I’ll give it that. A lot of people seem to love this place, mostly of the “kid” variety.
Food: ♦♦ / Price: $$$ / Decor: ♦♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Service: ♦♦♦♦
Gotham Burger (Q) … not my taste, but my kids thought it was amazing. In my view, it was a “bland fatty burger”. In my kids view .. as in all of them who can talk, it was “the best”. (Now, if you can get lamb burgers at Pomegranate in Brooklyn and grill them… that was the most amazing burger I ever tasted, beating any traiff burger I ever ate). Some of my kids seriously want this to be where I take them for their birthday present. I don’t get it. I guess I had my five year old birthday party at McDonalds so I’m not one to talk.
Food: ♦ / Price: $$ / Decor: ♦♦♦ / Hours: ♦♦♦♦♦ / Service: ♦♦♦♦
Noah’s Ark (C) has a lot of deli. It’s basic. I haven’t been there in years, so I won’t judge, but it’s also been around for years. There’s so much else in the area that I like better, so I don’t really know how it is these days.
Again, you can find the addresses at the RCBC link and I encourage you to look there and make sure any place listed above is still actively open and kosher. (C) means it’s on Cedar Lane. (Q) means it’s on or within about one block of 1400 Queen Anne’s road.
Much of my review is subjective, so if you have a different opinion or think I missed a great restaurant … add your comments below.