Teaneck–The Veggie Bistro & Cafe, at the corner of West Englewood Avenue and Queen Anne Road, is set to feature a mouth-watering menu with power breakfasts, lighter salads, paninis and wraps, a fresh-squeezed juice bar, specialty coffees, fresh pasta and homemade pastries and desserts. In a first for Teaneck, the restaurant will be host to a Tiffon brand open-window rotating French convection oven, so that customers can see and smell the oatmeal cookies and other pastries as they bake, and can order one warm from the oven as they finish their meal.
“We want to serve food that is fresh and healthy, and to create what we can create in-house, without it being super-expensive. That’s our goal,” said Yitz Alloul, a former caterer from Toronto who has lived in southern Teaneck for the past three years. A member of the Young Israel of Teaneck, Alloul has children at Yavneh and MTA, and his wife is originally from Far Rockaway. In Toronto, Alloul ran 5th Avenue Fine Foods, a bistro/grill and catering company. He sold out to a partner before moving here.
“Our philosophy is to serve whole, natural foods that are minimally processed,” Alloul said. “Wherever possible we will make scratch items–whole wheat pancakes, pie crusts for our quiches, fresh pastas, hormone-free milk and cheese.” Breads have been sourced that have whole grains, ancient grains, natural foods, and/or are minimally processed. “There are excellent products out there, and they’re kosher,” said Alloul. All fish will be naturally farmed without hormones, he added.
“What we’re trying to do is try to stay away from GMO (genetically modified organisms). For example, there are different varieties of fish that are genetically modified monsters. You will often find them in supermarkets because it’s dirt cheap, and you can literally grow it in your home in a tank. But what are you eating?” he asked.
The restaurant will be using nuts, because items such as pine nuts and almonds are a big part of a healthy Mediterranean diet, but everything provided will have allergy statements.
The Veggie Bistro will also have a juice bar which will serve smoothies and fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, in delicious combinations such as carrot and apple, and orange, carrot and ginger. “A little more of the exotic,” Alloul said. He said the restaurant will generally use interesting spices and blends outside the realm of the usual “Jewish spices,” of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, and when possible fresh spices and herbs.
“Our attempt is to get, when possible, organic fruits and vegetables, but not at a detriment. For most of the stuff grown in New Jersey, farmers use a form of pesticide to control the bugs, but it’s not as bad as you think. Items like kale and spinach would be infested otherwise, Alloul added. The restaurant will also have a 30-item salad bar.
Customers at the Veggie Bistro will also enjoy specialty coffee, including lattes, mochachinos, and hot chocolate for the kids.
The restaurant is not vegetarian, but will feature vegetarian items, such as tofu and seitan. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But to make the food concept work, most families go out together, so, yes, we will have cheese and fish and eggs, but lighter options. The overall concept is eating fresh, better; all that you’re missing is the fat,” he said.
The center of the restaurant will have comfortable club chairs to sit with coffee or juice, or you can take a table in the 40-seat restaurant. Free wifi will be provided, to encourage people to stay and enjoy.
While some items will be pareve, “From a hashgacha point of view, everything will be made in dairy ovens,” Alloul said. The restaurant will be certified kosher under the auspices of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County.
The Veggie Bistro & Cafe will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., and will also be available to cater special events like brissim, sheva brachos, home parties and engagement parties. Catering will be available both on-site and off-site. The restaurant can host up to 20 people for sheva brachos.
For more information, call 201-530-7644, or visit Facebook.com/veggiebistrocafe. A website will soon be available at http://www.veggiebistrocafe.com. The restaurant is scheduled to open after Sukkot.
By Elizabeth Kratz