Food Around the Wards

Food Around the Wards

Nowhere is Newark’s cultural diversity more evident than in its food. The 300+ restaurants in the city—be they delis, take-out spots, or sit-down establishments—reflect the ethnic mix of its more than 280,000 residents.

When Newark was being established and throughout its growth, different sections of the city were characterized by the ethnic group that settled there. According to, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, the Jewish population began to grow in the Central Ward, while Portuguese and Spanish immigrants began to arrive in the Ironbound section. The West Ward was primarily occupied by Polish, Italian, Irish, and German immigrants, and later transitioned into an area comprised of Caribbean Americans. As such, the eateries in the Ironbound/East Ward were mainly Portuguese and Spanish, while Jewish delis proliferated throughout the Central and South Wards. Italian restaurants sprang up in the North Ward and Caribbean establishments became popular in the West Ward.

But in recent years, Newark has undergone massive economic, social and residential development, and the ethnic and cultural lines throughout the wards are becoming a bit more blurred. This, too, has been reflected in the city’s eating establishments.

While certain parts of Newark have become traditionally associated with certain foods, non-traditional eateries and establishments have moved into many neighborhoods, only enhances the city’s culinary diversity.

Here are our Traditional and Non-traditional picks:

East Ward Traditional Pick

Fornos of Spain
47 Ferry Street
(973) 589-4767 |

An award-winning restaurant specializing in Spanish cuisine and seafood, Fornos is always packed whether you are looking for lunch or dinner. If you’ve got a taste for some authentic paella or mariscada, you won’t be disappointed here.

East Ward Non-Traditional Pick

Krug’s Tavern
118 Wilson Ave
(973) 465-9795 |

Newarkers rave about the burgers at Krug’s Tavern—and they’re not the only ones. In 2015, Krug’s Tavern won “New Jersey’s Best Burger” contest over nine other contenders, and their reputation is holding strong. Krug’s has an extensive list of heavy appetizers and a selection of oversized hot and cold sandwiches that, of course, pair deliciously with your favorite brew.

West Ward Traditional Pick

People’s Choice Lounge
105 Hartford St
(973) 622-9441

This intimate little lounge serves up delicious West Indian food and good times. Stop in for lunch and come back for the popular Happy Hour. Stay for dinner or even later for the music and vibes. This family-owned establishment stays involved in the community, supporting local events and even hosting post-event brunches.

West Ward Non-Traditional Pick

Blueberry Café Juice Bar and Vegan Grille
547 Central Avenue
(973) 732-1711 |

With a mission to promote healthy eating in urban communities, Blueberry Café serves fresh smoothies, soups, salads, herbal teas and more. Try the fried zucchini patties or the mushroom pie when you need a snack. Blueberry Café also provides vegan meal planning as a service.

Central Ward Traditional Pick

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant
32 Branford Place
(973) 623-0410 |

The Brummer family has run this Old-World Jewish deli since the 1960s. Offering top quality Eastern European delicacies, Hobby’s still pickles its own corned beef and all of its soups are homemade. The deli caters food for occasions large and small, including sandwich and dessert platters, hot buffets and appetizers, and breakfast buffets.

Central Ward Non-Traditional Pick

The Halal Guys Gyro and Chicken
72 Halsey Street
(973) 877-3759 |

Starting out with a food truck in New York City, The Halal Guys grew their business into a franchise that has expanded throughout the U.S. and internationally. In Newark, they serve Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style cuisine. Their specialty is the combo platter, a combination of chicken and gyro.

North Ward Traditional Pick

Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
561 Bloomfield Avenue
(973) 481-9696 |

This family-owned Italian restaurant is open seven days a week and hosts intimate gatherings as well as large parties of up to 45 people. With fresh pasta and homemade sauces, Luigi’s serves everything from small plates to family-sized meals. The restaurant’s authentic Italian experience goes beyond food with its décor and ambience, and its catering menu is just as robust as its in-restaurant menu.

North Ward Non-Traditional Pick

El Criollo
99 Broadway
(973) 485-5333  |

With the large influx of Latinos in the north ward since the early 1900s, its hard to believe that a Spanish cuisine restaurant would classify as non-traditional. But El Criollo, which opened in 1986 is a full-service Latin American Restaurant. Popular on the menu is the veal meatballs and the mariscos (shellfish/seafood). Customers can sit down and eat, get take-out, and have food catered. Just as much a gathering place as a restaurant, El Criollo has a popular happy hour and is a lounge and a sports bar.

South Ward Traditional Pick

Bragman’s Delicatessen and Restaurant
393 Hawthorne Avenue
(973) 375-9868 |

Family-owned since the 1950s, Bragman’s deli is known for its oversized hot and cold sandwiches made with extra meat served between two slices of Jewish rye bread. It has also been praised for its brisket and roast beef in gravy. The deli’s catering menu includes regular sandwich platters as well as smaller tea sandwich platters, and its combination sandwiches are served with homemade Russian dressing and coleslaw.

South Ward Non-Traditional Pick

Kings Family Restaurant & Catering
557 Clinton Avenue
(973) 396-2963 |

327 Lyons Avenue
(973) 926-2177 |

Kings opened in the early 1990s as a neighborhood restaurant and now boasts two locations in the South ward and has a robust catering division. A Halal restaurant specializing in Southern food like fish and grits, meatloaf and baked mac and cheese, Kings prides itself on providing big portions at an affordable price. Come for breakfast, which is served all day, as well as lunch and dinner.

Staying Overnight in Newark

Staying Overnight in Newark

Newark has welcomed visitors since the opening of its first hotel in 1670. Some time later, in 1916, the Robert Treat Hotel was built and became a popular attraction for guests of all backgrounds. Since then, the historic hotel, along with others, has brought businesses, tourists, and more theater-goers to Newark. The city is currently home to approximately 20 hotels.

The growing number of large businesses in Newark, such as Audible, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Fabuwood Cabinetry Corp, Prudential, and others—not to mention the growing number of small businesses and startups—is making hotels a necessity when it comes to needing conference centers, or overnight stays for employees or business guests.

After the opening of the Prudential Center in 2007, the need for hotels to accommodate concert-goers, sports spectators, employees, guests, and tourists grew exponentially. Then, in 2012, the Courtyard by Marriott-Newark opened up right next door.

The expansion of hotels beyond Newark Liberty International Airport has allowed business and leisure travelers to experience Newark’s rich culture in its entirety. According to Karin Aaron, CEO and president of the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau, ­Newark’s hospitality industry has seen a 4% increase in occupancy and a 3% increase in spending in the last 12 months.

The Robert Treat Hotel, which is located across from Military Park, continues to attract visitors and Newarkers alike. It contains 170 rooms on 15 floors, and its beautiful ballroom and banquet halls make it the choice for several different types of events, including weddings, social gatherings and concerts. Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and John F. Kennedy are a few of the famous guests who have stayed there.

Today, the Robert Treat Hotel is a landmark. Real estate developers Berger Organization purchased the hotel in 1986 and showed its commitment to Newark. The Berger Organization has led several Newark real estate projects in the years since.

Able to accommodate guests in 101 rooms, TRYP by Wyndham Newark Downtown was built intentionally in the heart of downtown Newark in the midst of the city’s arts and culture scene. Located only about a block away from the Robert Treat Hotel, TRYP by Wyndham opened April 23 of this year.

Some of the great accommodations the hotel offers include a shuttle service to Newark Liberty International Airport, making it easy to travel in and out of the city. Family rooms that feature bunk beds are another tempting feature for tourists, residents, and business people who want to travel with their children.

With attractive amenities like fitness centers, conference spaces, technology labs, and free Wi-Fi, Newark’s hotels supply the needs of nearly all travelers. Some hotels, such as Hotel Indigo, offer additional services including printing, scanning, and faxing. Many also include restaurants and/or banquet areas that serve great food and host recreational activities.

“Our hospitality industry tells the story of an interesting destination,” explains Aaron. “If there was no culture, if there were no attractions, nobody would come here. So when you add hotels, that’s even more of a reason to visit the city.”

TRYP by Wyndham

Robert Treat Hotel

Courtyard by Marriott

Hotel Indigo

A Creative City is a Profitable City

A Creative City is a Profitable City

The arts mean business in New Jersey’s largest city. On any given day or evening, Newark is bustling with cultural activity that appeals to art and music lovers of every kind. Government, corporate, and nonprofit leaders proudly connect this activity to jobs and money that is creating a more prosperous city.

Newark’s crowded galleries, standing-room-only festivals, and packed concerts are not only a fun time for residents and visitors, they’re good for the economy. Newark Arts, the city’s umbrella organization for all the arts, teamed up with the national research firm Americans for the Arts and conducted a year-long 2016 study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5. It found that Newark’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates more than $178.3 million in annual economic activity, supports nearly 5,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and creates an additional $15.5 million in local and state government revenues.

Of the study, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said, “Communities that embrace arts and cultural education, activities and events are far richer than those who do not. Newark is a ‘city of the arts,’ where access to spoken word events, musical and dance performances, film, art exhibits, theatre offerings, museums and libraries add exponentially to our economic health. The impact of our commitment to the arts is felt in our communities, our businesses, our institutions, and our households, and it contributes to the revitalization that our city is experiencing. This report acknowledges the significance of our investment in this vital sector of Newark.”

Newark’s hometown artists are equally proud of the city’s cultural and economic boom. Tony Award-winning dancer, actor and entrepreneur Savion Glover said, “Newark has always been home. But also, it has always been an absolute cultural gem and the birthplace of so many talented artists. So I’m not surprised to see the incredible impact that the arts have on Newark as a whole and where we’re going as a city.”

Newark’s corporate community, which has long promoted local arts and culture, applauded the results of the study. “A thriving arts and culture industry helps local business and contributes to communities becoming stronger and healthier places to live. Based on this study, grant makers and corporations like Prudential should feel optimistic about continuing to invest in the arts,” said Shané Harris, vice president of corporate giving, Prudential Financial Inc., and executive director of The Prudential Foundation.

So know that when you take in a show, visit a museum or gallery, or experience one of the many entertainment options available in Newark, you’ll not only have a good time, you’ll be contributing to the economic vibrancy of one of America’s great cities.

Newark’s Newest Creative Spaces

The findings in the 2017 Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 study (AEP5) are evidenced by the number of arts and culture-related locations that have opened this year alone.

Express Newark, 54 Halsey Street (Opened in March 2017)

Located in the renovated Hahne & Co building, Express Newark is an arts incubator and provides video, photo, design and art classes. It was conceived by the faculty, staff and students of Rutgers-Newark and community arts leaders.

The Painters Palette, 97th Avenue (Opened in June 2017)

The Painters Palette invites you to “uncork your creativity” with painting classes and activities, such as Paint & Chew, Painting Party and Wine & Design.

Grammy Museum, 165 Mulberry Street (Opened in October 2017)

Located in the Prudential Center, the Grammy Museum -Experience will feature interactive music exhibits, public programs that include live performances, exclusive talks, and one-of-a-kind learning opportunities. It will even host your event.

Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street (Main entrance re-opened in November 2017)

The Newark Museum has re-opened its main entrance after closing it 20 years ago to keep temperature and humidity fluctuations from damaging centuries old paintings. An expansion of exhibit space now protects the art within and has enabled the re-opening.

Want to Open Shop in Newark?

Want to Open Shop in Newark?

Newark has Been a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity for several years and it doesn’t look like that’s about to slow down. If you’re looking for an organization or environment that will nurture and advance your entrepreneurial spirit, Newark has several resources that may be just what you need.

Newark Venture Partners

Newark Venture Partners (NVP) is an equity investment group and tech incubator that is backed by several large corporations in Newark, including Audible, Prudential, Rutgers University and Dun & Bradstreet. NVP seeks to help entrepreneurs build distinctive technology companies and advance the overall technological development in the city. The group invests in seed and Series A companies, and will invest up to $1 million in the businesses it selects.

Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED) supports urban entrepreneurs looking to make socially conscious change. CUEED connects scholarly works with private capital, government, and non-profit sectors. The center’s goal is to build a research-driven, teaching and practitioner-oriented urban entrepreneurship and economic development program, and create wealth in urban communities.

NJIT’s Enterprise Development Center

The Enterprise Development Center (EDC) is a high-tech and life science business development center on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology. The center’s mission is to help startups become independently profitable as well as profitable to the local and global economy. EDC teaches entrepreneurs how to attract investment capital, how to grow staff, and how to develop effective marketing strategies, among other skills.

Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership

Whether you already have a business or just a business idea, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL) can help you. The organization’s goal is to increase its members’ access to the knowledge, networks and capital they need to be successful. IFEL does this through its Workshops in Business Opportunities, its 14-day Business Plan Bootcamps, its GrowSpace co-working spaces, and its annual Next Level Conference for aspiring entrepreneurs, business professionals and business owners.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 30-week after school program for middle and high school students interested in starting and running their own businesses. YEA! is run by the Newark Regional Business Partnership and has helped over 6,000 students launch over 4,000 businesses and social movements.

FOWNDERS, Accelerated Growth For Millennial Entrepreneurs

FOWNDERS is a startup accelerator program for millennial entrepreneurs. It accepts startups that have been proven market fit and puts them through a 12-week business development program. The organization’s mission is to “innovate, develop and scale businesses that make a measurable, meaningful, positive difference in the world.”

Newark Community Economic Development Corporation

The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (Newark CEDC) is the primary business development company for the city of Newark. It retains, attracts and grows businesses, enhances small and minority business capacity, and spurs real estate development throughout Newark’s 20 neighborhoods.

Experience the New Hahne and Co.

Experience the New Hahne and Co.

Thirty years, $174 million dollars, and 400,000 square feet of redesigned retail and residential space—that’s what it took to complete the new Hahne & Co. mixed-use redevelopment project.

The iconic, upscale department store located at 609 Broad Street that became an abandoned eyesore in the community, has become one of the first, new large-scale investments in Newark, a contemporary dwelling for
residents, and a symbol of economic growth for the city’s downtown area.

The flagship store was erected in 1901 by prominent local businessman Julius Hahne and became the first commercial building in Newark designed specifically as a department store. When it opened its doors 116 years ago, it attracted affluent families from Newark and surrounding cities, and was a successful business well into the 1960s. The store closed permanently in 1986.

The new Hahne & Co. building, though completely renovated, still features key elements of the original store, including its street-facing façade, the original signage in the windows, and an expansive skylight in the building’s entryway. Among the new features and amenities of the restored building are a Whole Foods supermarket, a Barnes and Noble college bookstore, and Express Newark, a 50,000-square-foot arts and cultural incubator operated by Rutgers University-Newark. Celebrity restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson—perhaps most notably the proprietor of Harlem, New York’s Red Rooster restaurant—plans to open a 2,250-square-foot restaurant on the Halsey Street side of the building. Additionally, the development includes a 160-unit residential component, 40% of which is dedicated for affordable housing spaces.

The venture was completed through the joint efforts of Mayor Ras Baraka, former Mayor Cory Booker, local and state officials, and a consortium of funders. Renovation was financed through a collaboration of public, nonprofit and private groups, including the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Private equity was provided by L+M Development Partners, Prudential Financial Inc., and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. Additional construction financing was provided by Citibank, local developers Hanini Group, Crawford Street Partners, and three nonprofit CDFIs.


Celebrity Chef Expands in Newark

Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson

With much left up to the imagination as far as the name and food concept of Marcus Samuelsson’s new establishment, one thing is certain—it will open this year, right here in Newark’s renovated Hahne & Co. building. Samuelsson is perhaps best known for Harlem, New York’s Red Rooster restaurant, which opened to wide acclaim in 2010, but he’s actually world-renown for several restaurants, both in the states and abroad. He has hosted and appeared on several food shows and networks, created a cooking video series, and written several books both autobiographical and culinary in nature.

The award-winning Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised chef will look to the farms and farmers markets of Newark’s neighboring communities to source local ingredients for his restaurant, as well as local vendor opportunities for the business overall. He will also be seeking food inspiration from Newark’s East Ward—a.k.a. the Ironbound section—which has a culinary and cultural tradition heavily influenced by its thriving Portuguese population.

Samuelsson, who has been working on his Newark location for the past three years, may model it after his Harlem establishment, bringing not just good food, but a warm dining and social atmosphere to the community.

Whole Foods Feeds the Community in More Ways Than One

Whole Foods Market

The doors have opened! Whole Foods Market fresh food options are now available to Newark residents and commuters. This business has brought to the city: approximately 110 jobs, various vendor opportunities, community grants, and a micro lending program to fight poverty.

Stationed in the new Hahne & Co building, the 29,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market will bring the city a step closer to resolving the “food desert” crisis—the lack of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods in many urban areas—that plagues Newark. With only three Whole Foods Markets in Essex County, the Newark location is poised to attract many newcomers to the city.

Through its foundation, Whole Foods is granting between $5,000 and $15,000 to community-led nonprofits, in each of Newark’s five wards, that support healthy food projects. The grocer is also offering microloans up to $250,000 to Newark-based entrepreneurs for training and support and to help transform their communities and fight poverty.

And the store’s community-minded focus doesn’t stop there. The Newark Whole Foods location will offer lower prices to shoppers—mirroring the economically sensitive model it implemented in its New Orleans and Detroit locations—all while maintaining the brand’s standard of quality.

Home Sweet Hahne & Co.

New, contemporary living spaces are taking over Newark’s downtown area. One of the newer constructions is a nine-story building located on New and Halsey Streets, which connects to the Hahne & Co. building through a shared lobby and atrium, where additional residential units are located on the third and fourth floors.

Revamping the standard of living, this 100% smoke-free property includes a shopping experience and attractive amenities, including a fitness center, outdoor living areas, and a lounge. To ensure that the residences were accessible to all Newarkers, 64 of the 160 units—ranging from studio to three-bedroom apartments—were designated as affordable housing units for low income and working families. Residents were selected through an application and lottery process and move-in began in January 2017.

Experience Newark Through Multimedia

You don’t often hear of multidiscipline arts incubators popping up in New Jersey, not to mention Newark. This is why Rutgers University–Newark took advantage of the opportunity and wasted no time making themselves at home as the first major tenant inside the new Hahne & Co. building.

The $25 million Express Newark initiative occupies approximately 50,000 square feet and three floors of creative space that includes a portrait studio, a lecture hall, a communications media center, a print shop, gallery space, and the relocated Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. The university hopes that the space will inspire new local talent and give Newark residents and students an opportunity to use multimedia to express the rich history and diversity in the city.

A collaboration between Rutgers–Newark students, Newark residents and community leaders, Express Newark is a bold approach to cultivating local artistic expression through engagement. It’s meant to serve as a literal and figurative hub for all the imagination and creative ideas in the minds of Rutgers–Newark students and beyond.

Living & Working in Teachers Village

Living & Working in Teachers Village

Nestled in the heart of Newark’s downtown arts and education district is a burgeoning commercial and residential community called Teachers Village. A mixed-use community comprised of seven buildings that take up five blocks along Halsey Street, Teachers Village is unique among Newark’s development boom.

The $150 million dollar community, designed by world-renown architect Richard Meier, is distinguished by its education-focused theme. It’s surrounded by six universities and houses a daycare center and three charter schools. And Teachers Village isn’t just a charming name for the development—residential preference will be given to those in the education profession. To date, 70% of the community’s residents work in education.

Of the seven buildings that make up Teachers Village (five have been completed at press time), residential space is being built into four of them. At press time, three of those four buildings have apartments available, totaling 123 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with one-bedrooms going for a little under $1,500 per month.

And along with amenities such as central air conditioning and heat, on-site parking, and a 24-hour fitness center, the buildings are going to be equipped with “smart classrooms” that teachers who live in the community can use to host students after school or as a quiet place to study, perhaps in pursuit of their own advanced degrees.

Teachers Village also boasts 65,000 square feet of retail space that’s already begun to fill up. A variety of goods and services will be available, including banks, clothing stores, convenience and grocery stores, medical facilities, beauty services, and restaurants and eateries.

At press time, about 20 storefronts had already been established. Meet a couple of entrepreneurs who have already moved into the neighborhood.


MEET ISABEL LIVINGSTON, owner of Closet Savvy Consignment in Teachers Village

Name: Isabel Livingston

Business: Closet Savvy Consignment

Location: 37 Maiden Lane, Newark NJ 07102


Isabel Livingston is a Newark native who attended University High School and graduated from Jersey Preparatory before attending Essex County College. Upon graduation she landed a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer service representative and used her income to purchase her first home at the age of 22 in Orange, NJ.

In 2012, Isabel began Closet Savvy Consignment as an online boutique. In 2016, she moved her designer wears by top designers such as Burberry, Gucci and Balenciaga into the bricks and mortar of Teachers Village in Newark.

“I love it (Teachers Village), I walk to work and I am close to Penn Station and public transportation. People (typically) spend so much time traveling and commuting and I don’t have to do it. I can support the local business community. There are fabulous retailers here.  It is literally the best thing since the Internet!”

Isabel grew up in Newark but moved with her daughter in the early 2000s to Maplewood, New Jersey. She moved back in late 2016, in part, because of the city’s new real estate projects. After seeing all the improvements the city was making and exploring some of the new housing options, Isabel settled on Teachers Village. “It seemed like a no-brainer,” she remarked.


MEET TONNIE ROZIER, owner of Tonnie’s Minis Cupcakes

Name: Tonnie Rozier

Business: Tonnie’s Minis

Location: Coming soon to Teachers Villiage, Newark, NJ


“I wasn’t sold on Newark at first, because I never went past Penn Station. But when I started looking around at all these major businesses coming [into town]—I saw an opportunity. Newark’s rich history is why I stayed for over 10 years,” says Tonnie Rozier, owner of Tonnie’s Minis cupcakes that is coming to Teachers Village later this year.

Tonnie was living in the Ironbound section of Newark when he opened his first cupcake shop in Harlem in 2006. He opened another location in the Inwood section of the Bronx in August 2013. But business was growing too big too fast and he found himself struggling to keep up.

Part of the reason Tonnie was able to open his brick and mortar shops was the success of the private and corporate business he’d been cultivating for years. But a large corporate deal he entered into with Dallas BBQ restaurant—Tonnie was to produce 60,000 cupcakes a week for the restaurant chain’s 11 New York City locations—shifted his focus away from his own shops and led to their closing in late 2013.

Tonnie re-opened his Bronx location a few months later but had to close again when the Department of Health indicted him for not having a particular sink. Later in 2014, making savvier business decisions and with the necessary equipment installed, he opened for business again and remains open.

In 2015, Tonnie’s Minis was a featured business on CNBC network’s The Profit,” where show host, businessman and angel investor Marcus Lemonis revamps and revitalizes a small business in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the business. Now, working toward a more stable entrepreneurial base, Tonnie is ready to expand in Teachers Village.

Still living in Newark all this time, Tonnie was approached by a business developer with the idea to re-open in downtown Newark.

“Michael Vann was the go-to guy in the ‘90s if you wanted to open a restaurant. He is the one who told me about Teachers Village and wanted to help me. He truly believed in my product and was a great sounding board and conduit.”

So in 2016, Tonnie moved his wife and two daughters into Teachers Village. He loves that his family is surrounded by educators in what he calls “a melting pot of teachers, each bringing different energy to the table. I know this works!”

Newark’s Teachers Village gives him the  sense of community he felt in Harlem, of people coming together to enjoy themselves, then going home in the same neighborhood.

Tonnie plans to employ 11 Newark residents in his store, which open later this year. “I always employ people from the neighborhood where my business is located. I am going to scout the best talent that resides in Newark.”

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