May 8, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 8, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

American Dream Offers a Buffet of Kosher Food Options

American Dream has become a big destination for people for all kinds of reasons. It’s a mall, but it’s not just a place for shopping. There’s all sorts of stuff for people to do. It has an amusement park, a water park, a ski slope, an ice skating rink, an aquarium, the world’s tallest indoor ropes course, a Lego discovery center, a giant ferris wheel that allows riders to see Manhattan, a wave pool for surfing lessons, a “7D” ride simulator, two different themed mini golf courses, an escape room, a mirror maze, a 3D street chalk museum, and about 10 other things that are coming soon.

And with all that stuff to do, people are going to need to eat something. Well, American Dream houses about 60 eateries for people to choose from, so they’ve got that covered also. But American Dream has something that most other malls don’t: religious Jewish ownership.

The mall is owned by Triple Five Group, a Canadian company operated by the Ghermezian family. The prominent Iranian Jewish family also owns the Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada. With American Dream’s location in East Rutherford, New Jersey being so close to the Jewish communities in and around New York City, the family decided to make it a priority to have kosher food available.

Not only did they seek out kosher restaurants to populate a “kosher food court,” but they also ask prospective eateries if they’d like to pursue kosher certification before they open. Working alongside the Kof-K, they’ve managed to secure supervision for about a dozen of the eateries in the mall.

This is a guide to all of the options you have for kosher food in the mall as of July 2023. Dating the previous sentence is important because more vendors are opening up every week. Head over to AmericanDream.com/directory and search “kosher” for an updated list.

As previously stated, the mall has a lot to offer. While some guests are coming from nearby locations like Teaneck or Passaic, others are traveling hours to get there from Long Island or even Philadelphia. So while you could be stopping in just for the food (parking is free for the first 30 minutes and $5 for the rest of the day), you could also be intending to spend an entire day.

If you’re there early, don’t worry, there are breakfast options. The Dunkin’ in the mall (Parks Court, Level 1) opens even before most of the mall does (mostly to service those who work there) and has a familiar menu of food and drink. With an array of beverages (hot, iced, or frozen) and food options (sandwiches, wraps, bagels, donuts, muffins), there’s definitely something to get you going in the morning.

Some of my favorites are their Frozen Chocolate (strong chocolate taste for those who love that), Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich (two eggs, veggie bacon, and American cheese), Avocado Toast (a fairly new addition that’s a bit healthier than a full sandwich), Everything Bagel Minis (these two-bite pods of bagel dough filled with cream cheese are a must-try), and Apple Fritter (crunchier than from other places, if that’s your thing).

If you’re OK with a less healthy option (sweets will be somewhat of a trend here), there’s a Cinnabon just a few steps away (Parks Court, Level 1). Other than their famous cinnamon buns of various sizes, they carry churros and cookies also. If you need something to wash it down with, they have an ever-expanding menu of drinks that now includes cold brew, iced, hot and frappuccino coffees, hot cocoa, lemonades, and their new fruit refreshers.

If I had to settle for just one beverage, it would be their new Strawberry Refresher. While it was certainly sweet, it wasn’t sickly so, and the strawberry flavor was actually quite sharp. Even with all the different pastry choices, I’m still a sucker for their Classic Roll. There’s a reason the entire business is built on its back. The dough is perfectly soft on the inside with a slight crisp on top, the cinnamon filling is tasty and provides that signature gooeyness, and the cream cheese topping really can’t be topped.

For something a little less familiar, try out Red Mango around the corner (Court A, Level 1). The chain of more than 50 locations has very few with supervision, so take advantage of being near this one. Their menu features açaí bowls (seven flavors or make your own), freshly made juices blends (16 flavors), smoothies (14 flavors, yogurt or milk-based), frozen yogurt (12 flavors), and frozen yogurt parfaits.

If you don’t know what to order, ask the staff to help you. It’s not an uncommon sight to see Orthodox Jews staring at the menu with bewilderment. You might want to taste their frozen yogurt before ordering as it’s much more of a sour (or tart) yogurt flavor than the dessert versions that are more common. But don’t be afraid to be adventurous and try something fun. Take this chance to expand your horizons outside the usual boundaries.

Transitioning to some familiar kosher fare, the epicenter of the mall’s kosher scene is the “kosher food court” located on the third floor above the ice rink (Coca-Cola Eats – Court C, Level 3). With tables overlooking the rink, it’s a nice place to sit down, eat a meal with your family, and take a break. There are three restaurants to choose from, you’ll have to make the call on where to go.

Chickies is a pretty familiar name in the kosher world. American Dream is just one of their four current locations, but it might be the one with the most twists and turns to get to today. While their full setup at the mall was being built, they used to bring food from their location in Teaneck. Fortunately for both Chickies and their customers, that is in the past. They now make a wide array of fleishig options on premises.

How wide an array? Well, you can obviously get one of their famous sandwiches (or wraps if you prefer). Or maybe you’d just rather get straight to the chicken and order a box or bucket of fried chicken or one of the four choices for white meat fingers or poppers. On the healthier side, you could make your own salad with dozens of possible ingredients (adding meat for an extra charge is optional). Burgers, hot dogs, wings, fries and more are also available, and they have three different options for Kids’ Happy Meals that all come with fries, a juice box and a toy inside a playful box.

In terms of sandwiches, I’ve always been a Vato Loco guy because I love the heat of the buffalo schnitzel with the creaminess of the garlic mayo. That said, the sandwiches are huge and I can understand sticking to the poppers or wings as they both also hit the spot, especially when eaten fresh. Then again, a grilled chicken salad might be my favorite lunch meal of all time, and being able to customize the salad completely would be super-tempting.

The newest offering at the mall is Falafel & Chips, a pareve place that is owned and operated by the same ownership as Chickies. With its smaller menu and fewer staff needed, you can basically order everything yourself on a tablet kiosk. The menu consists of some Middle Eastern appetizers (cigars, kibbe, bourekas), falafel (in pita, in laffa or on a plate), and five different types of Israeli-style “chips” (fries that are made of freshly sliced potato disks).

My favorite thing here was the falafel plate, and I usually prefer laffa over everything. But being able to scoop up some of the base hummus with a piece of a fresh, crunchy falafel ball and a balanced amount of Israeli salad, pickles, and matbucha? It was amazing. I also recommend the spinach boureka, which came out super-crispy with a good amount of tasty filling. Truthfully, I liked all five flavors of the chips, but I guess I’d suggest getting the Smoky Maple flavor because it’s really unique compared to the others (sea salt, garlic, cajun, truffle).

Bravo Pizza is the dairy option in the food court (not just dairy, but cholov Yisroel). With locations popping up all over, Bravo is the hottest name in kosher pizza these days, and it’s easy to see why. Well, maybe it’s easy to taste why. Their location at American Dream features many different pizzas and pastas, as well as a few sides and salads.

I found their Caesar Salad to be refreshingly bright. The amount of cheese was on the heavier side (which I like), and the croutons were freshly made for a great texture. But the highlight for me was watching them make their Grandma Pizza, though I guess you could say that I missed the beginning of the process.

Bravo has a very specific recipe for their Grandma Pizza that involves pre-baking the dough the day before. They also use rectangular pans instead of squares so there is no middle slice (no crust edge). After baking the dough three quarters of the way, they put it in a sealed bag and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, they add the cheese on the bottom, a small ladle of sauce on each slice, sprinkle cheese and basil on top, and put it in the oven for just three minutes. The result is an amazingly crunchy crust to go along with a delicious combination of sauce and cheese. But if you want a slice, get there early. When they run out of those pre-made crusts, that’s it.

Leaving the food court, there are a bunch of dairy establishments throughout the mall where you can grab snacks and dessert. Geoffrey’s Cafe (Parks Court, Level 1) inside the two-story Toys R Us has a menu that’s been growing every month. The only other cholov Yisroel place in the mall, it started out as just a place for soft-serve ice cream and has morphed into a full on dairy cafe. They carry various packaged drinks and snacks to go along with the food that’s made behind the counter.

If it’s a drink you’re looking for, they make milkshakes, frappes, slushies and smoothies. There’s also hot food (nachos and popcorn) and freshly baked cookies (both regular and jumbo), brownies and muffins. Last but not least, there’s soft-serve ice cream in cones, cups or sundaes.

I’d suggest grabbing a Caramel Frappe or a Peanut Butter milkshake. Both were really tasty, looked delicious, and didn’t disappoint. But if you walk in and they have any of the freshly baked Jumbo S’Mores Cookies, make sure you walk out with one. The chocolate base has melty marshmallows and big chocolate chunks that combine for a really good texture.

Right across from Toys R Us, you’ll find the three-story candy store, It’Sugar. Go up to the third floor to the only Oreo Café (Parks Court, Level 3) anywhere. They offer Oreo ice cream sandwiches, ice cream, milkshakes, and four options of pretty intense, over-the-top sundaes.

The Oreo Waffle Sundae has Oreo pieces baked directly into the waffle before it’s topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauces, and blue candy. The waffle may be hard to cut with the side of your spoon, but it’s worth it when you can get everything in one bite. I loved the idea of making the waffle itself Oreo-flavored, and the idea really worked out. But for me, the winner was the Oreo Brownie Sundae. A warm brownie with ice cream, fudge, Oreo pieces, a huge Oreo cookie, whipped cream and sprinkles? Yes, please. This is probably the best dessert in a building with many contenders.

If you didn’t like the ice cream options so far, don’t worry, we aren’t done. There are two identical locations of Häagen-Dazs (Court C, Level 3 and Court A, Level 2). If you were planning on dismissing these locations because you can buy it in the store, you might be interested to know that they have flavors that are exclusive to scoop shops like these.

With the entire location under supervision, feel free to order one of their fancy Dazzler Sundaes (some of the choices are really interesting), milkshakes and other frozen drinks. If you’re a big fan of premium ice creams, there just aren’t that many places where you can get treats like these made with such high quality products.

If you head over to Mrs. Fields (Court A, Level 1), they’ve got more cookie options than you ever thought possible. With more than a dozen flavors available in both regular and “Nibbler” size, that alone would be enough to choose from. But then there’s the Cookie Sandwich (two cookies with vanilla frosting in the middle), the MEGA Cookie (regular diameter, three times as thick), and more. For a special occasion, you can also buy the cookies in a gift tin, or buy one of their signature Cookie Cakes, which they will custom decorate for you.

You can’t really go wrong here, but my favorite cookies were the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Triple Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate with M&Ms. The Cookie Sandwich was amazing as it brought back childhood memories of eating an oatmeal cream pie, but instead the cookies were freshly baked chocolate chip ones. The cookie cake was a huge hit over Shavuot (thanks to the minhag of eating dairy) and it was so cool to actually eat something I’ve seen in malls my whole life. Just know that even the smallest size is really big, and you’re gonna need a lot of help to finish it.

What do you do if you had Chickies for lunch and are looking for pareve dessert? For that, you can visit Cotton Pop Shop (Parks Court, Level 1) and grab yourself a huge cotton candy! This kiosk also sometimes sells artisanal candied popcorn if you catch them before it gets sold out.

Last but not least, on the first floor of the previously mentioned It’Sugar, you can find It’s Kosher (Parks Court, Level 1), a section of exclusively kosher candy and treats. So if you’re in need of something pareve, or you’re just looking to take something home with you, take a look over there. They have tons of packaged stuff to go along with bulk scoops of gummy candies.

Needless to say, there’s something for everyone at American Dream. The kosher options are almost as plentiful as the entertainment ones, so make your way there for a bite and good time!

By Nati Burnside

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles