New York-style restaurant without paying to park – oh, because it’s New Jersey

Restaurant ads usually don’t catch my eye, but this one was full color in the town newspaper. The photos were stunning from a restaurant design perspective. It looked very trendy, very NY City. Ridgefield Park, NJ, doesn’t have anything like that. Question was, did the menu measure up? I checked out the web site: and made reservations.

When we walked in, the front room and bar seemed bright and very white, like I stepped into an igloo somewhere in Eastern Europe. We were told a Latin Jazz band was setting up. Around the corner was the dining room with warmer lighting. The tiled floor, metal accents and white textered walls could’ve left this room feeling cold, but a designer warmed it up with thin sheer curtains hanging to section off the room. The tables were all backed with curved coach-like seating. Unfortunately, it was a cold evening, and we sat next to the back glass wall, leading out to a nice patio that will do well in the summer. The high ceiling didn’t help to make us warmer.

Our waitress, while very friendly, was extremely green around the gills. I was happy to see “half portions available” on the pasta dishes, so I requested for an appetizer a half portion of Cavatelli with baby clams, shrimp, mussels, scallops and calamari – a good test for the chef’s abilities. I asked what kind of sauce, and the waitress said affirmatively, “white wine”. The dish came out with a flavorful red sauce, which is – not white wine. The seafood passed the tenderness test with flying colors. In between courses, a Korean man in a suit with a tapemeasure on his belt told us he was the architect.  Was he fishing for compliments? We couldn’t understand why the architect would be hanging around – to make sure nothing fell apart? It turns out he’s a partner.

The entree of short ribs with polenta was good but a little less exciting. The polenta flavor reminded me of nothing more than farina I had as kid and the “fried leeks” were thin pieces of shredded paper. I wanted to taste it more.

It’s a good alternative for those who want New York dining and maybe hang around for some music afterwards but don’t want to spend the money to cross the river. However, you will pay much more than the bridge for a Cosmopolitan at $13. They really make you feel like you’re in New York.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Daniel F. on January 30, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Last evening we dined at MK Velencia in Ridgefield Park, NJ. This is a new restaurant that has only been open for a few months. It is beautifully decorated with its New York vibe. Here are my thoughts. Upon arrival we sat at the front bar (there are two of them), to have a cocktail before dinner. I asked what the house Pinot Gregio was. They serve Mondavi as their house. Really?, they can’t choose a better house than that? I know they are out there within the same price range. They seemed to forget that they are still in Ridgefield Park not NYC with their prices. A martini will cost you $13.00. Most places in NJ charge at most, $10.00. The wait staff was very friendly, however our waitress (who was very nice), seemed to have no clue as to what she was doing. I got the feeling she was lost and unsure of herself at times. This I blame on management, whose job it is, is to make sure the wait staff is properly trained and understands the menu. They should also know how each dish is prepared and served. Case in point; my wife asked if the pasta dish she was ordering was in a white or red sauce and was told it was served in a white cream sauce. Of course it came out in a marinara, though delicious it was. As for me, I skipped an appetizer and ordered the Potato Crusted Lemon Sole. The only flavor it had was the potato crust. The fish itself was dry and tasteless. The other flaw was the bus boys were constantly wanting to clear off plates that still had food on them and that we were still eating. We had to of told them at least four times to leave the plate. One of the first things I was taught in culinary school is you never clear someone’s plate until everyone is done with that serving.


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