|Choripan Rodizio, a new restaurant on Main Street in Hackensack, is a temple of grilled meat, but non-meat eaters will find great salads and a limited seafood selection.|
|Steaks and other grilled items are available a la carte or as all you can eat -- $30 for adults and $20 for children under 12 after 3:30 p.m., with two side dishes.|
|The brick walls remind me of Habana Casual Cafe, a great Cuban restaurant on the next block, and both restaurants are BYOs.|
|Thanks to a huge number of Argentines with Italian ancestry, Choripan Rodizio also serves pasta, pizza and other traditional Argentine-Italian dishes.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Nearly all of our favorite restaurants are Asian -- Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese -- but we were looking for a change of pace on Saturday.
We decided to drive downtown to Choripan Rodizio, a new Argentinian grill restaurant that opened about 11 weeks ago, making its block one of the nicest on Main Street.
The owner is Pablo Spadavecchia, a native of Argentina who said that he and his business partner wanted to open their first restaurant in Hoboken, but decided "to take a chance on Hackensack."
The restaurant's name is a combination of chorizo and pan -- choripan is an Argentinian-style sausage sandwich, and it's served here on Italian bread with french fries or a salad ($9 t0 $10.50).
|Steak, pork, sausage and other meats are grilled over wood charcoal.|
Three of us began our meal with complimentary bruschetta, then shared two large, wonderful salads, Beets, String Beans and Boiled Egg ($8.25) and Fresh Spinach, Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese ($8.50).
|You can hear the crunch of the bruschetta.|
|Fresh beets and string beans go into this beautiful salad.|
We loved the big leaves of fresh spinach and a light touch with the balsamic dressing.
My entree was breaded Fillet of Sole Oreganata with sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes or french fries ($18.75), but I asked the waiter if I could get sauteed spinach instead of the potatoes, and the fish was served on top of the spinach. Nice.
My wife had Linguini and Shrimp in Vodka Sauce ($16) -- a delicious dish with firm pasta. And my mother-in-law ordered the Grilled Sirloin Strip Steak with a side of mashed potatoes ($19).
|The vegetables with my sole appeared to have been sauteed with butter, which I try to avoid. That should be noted on the menu.|
|Plump shrimp and a homemade vodka sauce pleased my fussy wife.|
|The sirloin strip steak came medium-well, as ordered, with a small bowl of garlic-and-parsley chimichurri sauce.|
|My mother-in-law loved the carrots in the mashed potatoes, and that inspired me to mash skin-on sweet potatoes and carrots with extra-virgin olive oil for dinner at home on Sunday night.|
None of us were able to finish our entrees, and we took home the leftovers.
That night, my ravenous teenage son raided the fridge, ate the steak and linguine, then ordered a delivery of takeout Chinese food.
We had arrived around 5 p.m. on Saturday, and got a table easily, but the restaurant soon filled up with families and friends who had made reservations.
Adults soon uncorked their bottles of red wine, and the place resounded with lively music and the hubub of families enjoying good food around the dinner table.
Three TVs on the wall showed Argentinian soccer, but the sound was turned off.
We had a few minor complaints. Even before the place filled up, we had to wait for our salads and I had to ask to get my water glass refilled.
Our table for 4 was too small to handle the two big salad platters and our plates, so we decided to give back a basket of bread.
A server brought the steak, but not the other entrees, and my mother-in-law's side dish of mashed potatoes didn't follow until 5 minutes later.
We also had to wait for the bill.
And although Choripan has a large menu, a couple of items are missing: whole chicken and whole fish roasted over wood.
Choripan is a welcome addition in an area that offers a variety of ethnic food.
The restaurant, at Bridge Street, is diagonally across from Pollos Mario. Greek Island Grill and Super Rico, a Colombian fast-food cafe, are across Main Street.
Next door, M&P Biancamano's of Hoboken, a deli famed for its fresh mozzarella, has finally opened.
Choripan Rodizio, 72 Main St., Hackensack; 201-880-4832. Closed Mondays, BYO; metered street parking until 6 p.m., except Sundays.
Web site: Charcoal-grilled meat isn't the only draw