(Published in NJ Life January/February 2010)
Old Meets New – Matthew Cortina
Englewood’s balance of small-town charm and high-end shopping makes it an irresistible week-end destination.
East of the new chic, well-lighted clothing store, up on the hill, the brick tip of a church cuts through a patch of green and you can’t help but think you’re in two places at once. Englewood, with wide sidewalks and wider streets, reminds you of a simpler time. But from the attractive new edifices of clothing stores to the captivating aromas of renowned bakeries, diners and bars, Englewood keeps a visitor happily engaged in many activities.
You’ll find the town is navigable by foot. Park close to the corner of Palisades Avenue and Dean Street and you will be at the epicenter of Englewood’s offerings.
If you don’t smell something wonderful immediately, then you’ll be pulled into Balthazer Bakery on S. Dean Street by the sights from the street. Bakers craft their sumptuous pastries and gorgeous breads through the window of the Paris-inspired brasserie. Try the sticky buns with pecans—seriously. Baumgart’s Café (Palisade Ave.) serves all meals and also combines old-fashioned milkshakes with fabulous sushi, all in the setting of a re-done retro diner. For something quick or light, try Englewood Bagels (Palisade) and Central City Coffee (Palisade) or Teafields (N. Dean St.)
HOME & DESIGN
Englewood is the destination for high-quality rugs and carpeting. Tibetano provides original and custom Tibetan rugs, using a unique blend of wool and silks from India and China. Next door, Regency Rugs offers authentic Oriental wool rugs, and Starr Oriental Rugs takes the corner plot with a wide selection of rugs for you to choose. All three stores are at the corner of Palisades and Grand Avenue, so head over for one-stop rug shopping.
Dean Street is a wonderful place to window-shop for all your fashion needs. Apollo Signature (Palisade) is a new, striking addition to the town, with many celebrities frequenting the high-end outlet. If you’re looking for a new watch, The Timepiece Collection on Palisade boasts one of the largest selections with pieces from Bvlgari, Hermes and Tag Heuer to name a few.
For stunning, hand-crafted metal jewelry, you needn’t look farther than Ayesha Mayadas on N. Dean Street. An Indian emigrant, Mayadas uses her 13 years as a textile engineer to lovingly craft her nature-inspired jewelry.
Make sure to visit Shoe Inn (N. Dean) for wonderful footwear, Mint (Bergen St.) for a large collection of lightly used vintage clothes, designer bags and accessories at great prices and Uoma Vero (Palisade) for fine menswear.
For lunch, try The Blue Moon Mexican Café (Palisade) and be sure to try their Margarita(s). If sushi is your bag, Namaskaar (Grand Ave.) and AKAI Japanese Sushi Lounge should suit you well. With an extensive list of “specialty rolls,” AKAI’s tremendous variety will leave any sushi lover satisfied.
For dinner, Bennies serves authentic Middle Eastern meals in a calm setting—the hookah helps. Saigon R’s well-touted Vietnamese fare is sure to please. Try the “Aromatic Duck” or “Shrimp Crepe” meals for a delicious take on culinary standards. Englewood provides hungry visitors with many options, though, and following your nose could lead you to Tapas de Espana (N. Dean), Daruma Japanese (N. Dean) or many other cuisines from around the world.
The Bergen Performing Arts Center on Van Brunt St. brings in top shows, performers and musical acts every week. Check out the Center’s website to see who’s coming through town. To either side of the Bergen PAC is Solaia Restaurant, and the Grand Cru, a great wine bar frequented by performers.
Down the street, Bennett Studios offers tours of their well-established recording studio. Call ahead and take a tour of the studio where Mariah Carey, Steve Martin and the Tony Bennett have recorded albums.
Be sure to bring a camera (and a wallet) and enjoy the small town setting and the contemporary urban prerogative of Englewood’s people and shops.