This board seems half-dead as far as Jersey City goes. Will anyone own up to living or visiting this mostly decrepit town? Lots and lots of new places, though mostly the same old same old. Why why why? I can't figure out places like 95 Greene or the Merchant, or why cheapo synthetic places continue to blight the Newport area. I stopped for lunch today at the just opened 4-fifty-5, located inside the Doubletree Hotel by Newport. No offense, but the 2 auto mechanics that opened this place should stick to changing spark plugs. One look at the menu was enough to make me do a prompt about-face. The 4 or 5 choices, like grilled cheese and the burger, didn't make my heart go thumpity thump. This is probably a very unfair snap judgment -- they didn't have a dinner menu to look at available and after all, they just opened. But like someone said, when you open the doors and start charging real loot, you're on the firing line.
I walked over to Liberty Grille but they were closed. This place has always been my standby, don't ask me why. They're relatively expensive and at best, mediocre, but at least they're consistent (and there's never a wait). I hear there's a new chef but haven't been there since he started. Not tremendously disappointed, I walked back and sat outside at Cafe Spice, a cousin of the place on University Place in the city. This was about my fifth time there and the first time I was impressed. I had the $6.95 combo southern indian platter which was enough for almost 2 people. The coconut chutney was the only loser dish and I inadvertently (yeah, right) spilled it on my lap. Of course my judgment (and dexterity) might have been clouded by the 3 glasses of $6/glass tasteless wine.
Carmine's pizza is excellent!! They're relatively new, located downtown (Brunswick) and I've had a chance to sample most of the entire takeout menu (while my wife vacations).
A few other exceptions to the rule are Madame Claude's, a downtown relatively inexpensive BYO (French) and Confucious, which bills itself as an Asian Bistro. I still can't figure out what the latter is striving for, but it is a refreshing change from the 598 other Chinese places. Don't expect much (anything)from the service, but the food is really a trip, Asian fusion that works. The decor is downright frightening. I had the hangar steak ($18) and the salmon ($18) at Madame Claude's, both of which were a bargain. It's a tiny place and gets crowded on weekends, so go during the week if you can. Brunch is packed.
Haven't been back to Marco & Pepe for a long time. I miss the Marco & Pepe's, when owner Ralph was a little humbler and served only tapas. The couple of times I've eaten there since they turned, um, haute cuisine, I enjoyed very much but felt completely ripped off.
One place I have heard absoloootely nothing about, which is kind of surprising, is the Lighthorse Tavern. A fortune (and 2 years) was spent renovating this building and the aspriations of the owners were nothing less than to make it the Gramercy Tavern of JC. They failed miserably, judging from 1 experience. I ate there a couple of weeks after it opened (in the winter) and it was awful in every respect. I haven't gone back because the owner treated me like shit. I still haven't figured that out. But I can't figure why every little hole-in-the-wall in JC seems to get reviewed, and there is absolutely no buzz about this place, at least nothing I've seen. I honestly don't even know if they're still open. Anyone know anything?