Hoboken is a nightlife paradise, famous for the sheer number of watering holes it sports, and sometimes even controversial with the … enthusiasm with which people come here to enjoy that nightlife. In recent years, Jersey City has been getting a bit of sizzle for the restaurants that have opened up in its downtown, but Hoboken remains a hotbed of culinary happiness. While there’s plenty of the basics in town—you can’t find better burgers, pizza, burritos, or Asian-inspired cuisine—there are also some incredibly talented chefs working in the Mile Square. Here’s our rundown of the Power Chefs of Hoboken.
Omar Giner (La Isla)
The original downtown La Isla was a modest affair in terms of atmosphere, but it still had a line out the door most nights (and some lunch times, too) because the Cuban food was absolutely amazing. Everything about La Isla went up a notch in the new uptown locale—the decor, the liquor license, and the food. While the plating and presentation has become a bit more sophisticated, the food remains true to its roots and there’s a good balance between adventurous experiments and simple, effective staples. If you’re craving Cuban food, you can’t do better.
Anthony Pino (Bin 14, Anthony David’s)
Chef Pino is well-known in Hoboken, running a successful catering business as well as Anthony David’s and Bin 14, each of which offer a fresh take on Italian cuisine that has crowds at both places every night. While circumstances conspired against his third location, the doomed Porter Collins, Pino plans to publish a cookbook so the rest of us can learn how he refreshes classic pasta dishes into something surprising with such ease.
Abdellah Ksiyer (Barbès)
A new arrival in Hoboken, but Barbès isn’t new, really; it existed in New York for more than a decade. Ksiyer’s partner and co-owner lived with his family in Hoboken, so when they lost their lease in New York it was a no-brainer to bring the operation here, to our serious benefit. Ksiyer’s interpretation of the classic Moroccan food of his native country has long been noted in New York’s snobbier periodicals, and now we get to enjoy them as well.
Paul Gerard (Antique Bar & Bakery)
What do you do when you have the chance to buy a centuries-old charcoal oven? You adapt a menu to use that oven for just about every dish. Gerard is doing some incredibly interesting stuff at ABB, and can be seen most nights getting sweaty alongside his staff in the open-air kitchen. The results, like the already famous Dirty Ribeye, will have you wondering if you can somehow convert an entire room of your apartment—or maybe your entire apartment—into an oven as well.
Maricel E. Presilla (Zafra, Cuharamama, Ultramarinos)
Presilla, named Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation a few years ago, operates the low-key, casual Zafra, the high-end, sophisticated Cucharamama, and the quick-and-easy Ultramarinos. At each spot a creative fusion of Latin dishes and culinary traditions can be found, demonstrating a confident and creative approach to food that fits whatever mood—or schedule—you’re working with on any given night.
Seadon Shouse (Halifax)
Shouse has taken the restaurant space at The W Hotel and turned it into a shrine to locally-sourced ingredients and a sustainable approach to food. Shouse created the menu using his formative years in Nova Scotia and the cuisine of the East Coast as its inspiration, and the result is a fine-dining experience that is equal parts distinctive and delicious. You simply won’t find a dinner quite like the one you can have at Halifax these days.
Mike Rodriguez (House of ‛Que)
You might be surprised to see the House of ‛Que listed here, but barbeque—<i>real</i> barbeque—is as much about the Pitmaster as it is anything else, and Mike Rodriguez was lured to Hoboken from Austin, where he was already suitably famous for his skills. You can taste the difference any time you like by getting some ‛que from anywhere else and comparing it to the incredible stuff being served up at HoQ.
Are you hungry? Because after writing this, we’re starving. Where are you going to have dinner tonight?