By Anthony J. Machcinski
‘Bloomfield’s restaurant scene is labeled one of the best kept secrets in New Jersey. I stand here today to say that it will no longer be a secret.”
These words, spoken by Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, signify the goal of Bloomfield Restaurant Week; to expose the diversity of Bloomfield’s restaurant scene.
“(Restaurant Week Committeewoman) Linda (Barucky) would always hassle me about how New York and Montclair have their restaurant week and we were sitting in Newark and they were having their restaurant week and she said, ‘Bloomfield has to have one,’ ” said liaison to the Township Council Michael Venezia at a mid-February press conference. “So I went to the council in October and it unanimously passed.”
Bloomfield Restaurant Week, which will become an annual event, will run from March 4 to 10, showcasing the many restaurants that Bloomfield has to offer.
“What makes this unique is the diversity of the restaurants participating,” Gill said at the same press conference.
“Our main motivation was the number of diverse restaurants in town and we wanted to promote them in town and out of the area,” explained Barucky.
According to Barucky, March was chosen because, “March is generally a slow month for restaurants and we thought it might give a boost to the restaurants.”
In total, 24 restaurants, ranging in cuisine from the conventional American and Italian to the exotic Peruvian and Thai, will take part in the event.
Participating restaurants will feature prefix menus for a cheaper rate than normal, with dinners ranging from $18 to $30 and lunches from $7 to $15.
The event has restaurant owners excited about the opportunity to showcase their restaurants.
“The main thing (the week will do) is it will bring in more people and to get your name out there,” said Phil Byrne, co-owner of Anthony’s Cheesecake, the only Restaurant Week participant offering breakfast as a meal option. “We started with just lunch and it’s now a big thing. We do the normal turkey and beef things, bacon, waffles with chicken. I don’t think you get that anywhere. I think we’re a little more diverse.”
While Byrne hopes to gain more traffic in his restaurant, Andres Quesada, owner of Senorita’s Mexican Grill on Glenwood Ave., already sees positive signs coming from the announcement of Restaurant Week.
“It’s a good way to build a relationship amongst other business owners,” explained Quesada, who is also a member of the Restaurant Week Committee. “I know many (of the other restaurant owners) after this.”
Quesada also explained that the owners have asked about the formation of some sort of group to continue to improve the restaurant scene in town.
For Restaurant Week, Quesada will be doing a little bit of a trial. He has created a black bean soup that, with positive interaction, will become a new part of his regular menu.
“I’m trying it for Restaurant Week and it’s not normally on the menu,” Quesada explained. “I want to see how people respond to it to see whether we will put it on the normal menu.”
Quesada also asks patrons to try the Chicken Mole, as he feels, “it kind of encapsulates our cuisine.”
One possible patron might be Bloomfield Mayor Raymond McCarthy, who talked at the press conference about his excitement for the event.
“We’ve always said that Bloomfield is one of the most outstanding towns in the county,” McCarthy said. “This will bring people back to the community…This will make Bloomfield the jewel of Essex County…My anticipation is at least I’ll hit 10 places.”
To find a full list of participating restaurants as well as more information on Restaurant Week, go to www.bloomfieldrestaurantweek.com.