|The dining room of Rosa Mexicano Restaurant in Hackensack. Corn tortillas are made by hand at the counter in the rear.|
-- HACKENSACK, N.J.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
We celebrated our son's 13th birthday Saturday night with a wonderful meal at Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack, where we love the handmade guacamole and corn tortillas, and sparkling salsas.
If there is better Mexican food in North Jersey, I don't know where it is served.
I recall visiting the flashy Mama Mexico when it first opened in Englewood Cliffs, and the food was terrific, but I haven't been back. That restaurant eventually closed.
At Rosa Mexicano, just about everything is made from scratch with good ingredients, and you'll pay for it.
You'd have to go to Mexico City to find food prepared at this level.
The guacamole for two, made at your table with onion, tomato and jalapeno, is $12 -- and that's for one avocado.
For a second avocado, you'll pay $12 more.
We treated our single order as an appetizer, and kept on asking for the small corn tortillas to fashion tacos with the two small cups of hot sauce.
We ordered two more appetizers -- small crab empanadas with a mango salsa ($10.75), and a quesadilla with huitlacoche ($8.75) -- the exotic, black corn fungus that my wife and son ate, though they usually avoid mushrooms. The latter was served with a Mexican sour cream and green salsa.
We shared an entree -- a butterflied, whole red snapper (sans the head), with each half covered in a different hot sauce ($26).
We couldn't get the kitchen to serve us the head, too.
I also ordered roasted vegetable tacos -- wild mushrooms, squash blossoms, zucchini and garlic -- served with flax-seed tortillas, Mexican street or creamed corn and beans with roasted pumpkin seeds ($17).
We would have been satisfied and full without the vegetable tacos, which seem expensive, and I had to eat them myself. My son ordered dessert -- churros (fried dough) with chocolate and two other dipping sauces ($6.95).
This is one of the most beautiful restaurants in North Jersey, with Mexican pottery, sconces and wall hangings. Service is attentive, but I wish the waiters wouldn't push the expensive, exotic drinks or that second avocado for the guacamole.
Rosa Mexicano website