and caramelized with a torch for a crackly brûlée surface. It came with house-made
vanilla ice cream and a whole strip of candied bacon. “It’s like a bacon lollipop,” said
Portcher in a phone interview after my visits. Passion fruit panna cotta topped with
candied violets provided a lighter, more refreshing finale.
Until recently, Village Green had hard wooden chairs more conducive to an interrogation than an unhurried dining experience. Portcher told me they were his customers’ number one complaint. So he recently replaced them. The new chairs have
upholstered bottoms. I’m not sure whether that represents Old World or New World
values, but it’s a step in the right direction.—SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY
PARK AVENUE BAR & GRILL
UNION CIT Y
FOOD: American/global bistro
AMBIENCE: Urban-retro chic spread
over four floors of a handsome 19th-
SERVICE: Distracted, perfunctory
WINE LIST: Lackluster overall, and
several bottles we attempted to
order were unavailable.
DINNER FOR TWO: $80
HOURS: Monday through
Wednesday, 11: 30 AM to 11 PM;
Thursday and Friday, 11: 30 AM
to midnight; Saturday, 1 PM to
midnight; Sunday, 11: 30 AM to 10 PM.
AX, MC, V, X (first floor only)
3417 Park Avenue, Union City
Good Friends Meet
THE GEM OF WOODBRIDGE
392 Amboy Ave., Woodbridge, NJ 732-634-9200
EDWARD’S TEAKHOUSE HHH NEW JERSEY MONTHLY NJM-CRI TICS CHOICE 2009, “STEAK” 239 MARIN BLVD., JERSEY CITY, NJ 201-761-0000 EDWARDSSTEAKHOUSE.COM
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WITH FIVE DINING areas on four floors of a beautifully
restored 19th-century brick building, this
Union City charmer offers options ranging from upscale, globally influenced,
New American fare to a hip bar with a
late-night menu to Sunday brunch. It’s
astonishing that executive chef Todd
Villani manages to pull off with equal
aplomb empanadas, Asian calamari salad,
gazpacho, Middle Eastern mezze, fusilli
Bolognese, crab cakes and T-bone steaks.
After opening the restaurant in 2007,
owner Karl Halligan hired Villani in
2009 to improve the food, Halligan told
me after my visits. Villani, 40, who grew
up in Rutherford and Wayne, has accomplished that. He has cooked in restaurants from Miami to Montclair, notably
with the Townhouse Restaurant Group
in New York, where he worked under
chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Unfortunately, Park Avenue’s focus
seems to be booking the private parties
that fill most of those five dining areas.
My foursome was not greeted either
time; on our second visit, a Friday, we
were told, “Just head upstairs.” When we
got there, the dining room was beauti-
ful, with arched windows, chandeliers
and walnut paneling. But every table was
empty and no staff were present. As we
trooped back down, a server descended
from the third floor and suggested we
go back because someone was indeed
covering the floor. That server eventu-
ally materialized from the outdoor deck
behind the dining room, where people
were being seated that night. Who knew?