Thursday, May 31, 2012

On two sides of the food tracks in Englewood

Englewood's Palisade Avenue has been in flux. One of the changes was Blue Moon Restaurant moving next door to a bigger space in the shuttered Ann Taylor store.

The Kitchen restaurant also moved, to the old Blue Moon space next to Starbucks.

Recent additions include Simply Seafood and Teita, a Dominican restaurant, below.

El Paso is an inexpensive Mexican place.

Las Maravillas de Tulcingo is the third restaurant from Jesus Pita; the others are in Passaic. The food is more authentic and cheaper than at Blue Moon, but on Memorial Day, the staff left a mess on an outdoor table, a sure way to turn off potential customers.

Palm BBQ Grill, above and below, is the second place to open in the space occupied for many years by the popular Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon, which moved to Tenafly.

The Palm BBQ menu offers pita and po' boy sandwiches, plus falafel and hummus.
A popular Panera Bread was replaced by a bank, above. On the same block, Victoria's Secret closed after more than a decade at the entrance to the ShopRite shopping center.


Englewood is a classic two-sides-of-the-tracks community, even when it comes to dining out.

Wealthy, mostly white residents live on one side of the tracks all the way up the East Hill, and send their children to large private schools.

On the other side, a long-established Jamaican community and Hispanic residents occupy modest homes, sending their kids to elementary and middle schools that have few white students.

Food lovers will find the better restaurants on the east side of the tracks, while most of the cheaper ethnic restaurants and bakeries are on the other side.

Food city

Baumgart's, It's Greek To Me, Starbucks, El Prado and others have had staying power. 

In other parts of the city, Jerry's Gourmet & More and Balthazar Bakery draw customers from far and wide.

The city also boasts two good Thai restaurants, popular Colombian restaurants and bakeries; excellent Jamaican takeout; H Mart, a large Korean supermarket; and Korean dumpling and kimchi factories.

But the food scene is always in flux, and I would be hard pressed to name all of the restaurants that have opened, operated for several years or more, and disappeared.

Sushi to tacos to pizza

Wild Ginger, an expensive sushi restaurant, closed in 2011 after a 16-year run, and was replaced first by a Mexican restaurant and then by an upscale pizzeria.

The businesses on the first floor of the Town Centre at Englewood luxury rental building on Palisade Avenue change constantly, and at least two food markets have failed there.

What factor ever-escalating rents play in the closing of popular businesses is unclear. 

Bittan Group

Little is known about Michel Bittan, owner of the Bittan Group of Englewood, whose signs are on several vacant commercial spaces.

Bittan is the owner of Solaia, a fine-dining restaurant on North Van Brunt Street, between the performing arts center and City Hall. 

He also owns a casual restaurant next door called Caprizza, and the 201 Club, a party space.

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