By Ryan Sloan
NORTH ARLINGTON –
When you hear of a place that dubs itself a coffee house and cafe, chances are you think the obvious — you can get a lot of coffee there. And while The Angry Bean Coffee House and Cafe does, indeed, have a lot of coffee and espresso-based drinks available for customers, it also has the unexpected – great homemade, fresh food.
And a lot of it.
The place opened about nine months ago — at 89 Ridge Road in North Arlington — when husband and wife pair Eileen and Michael Cassano came up with a compromise. Both Eileen and Michael wanted out of corporate America. And Michael wanted an Italian deli.
So from those dreams the Angry Coffee Bean was born. Eileen says she and her husband were quite fortunate when they hired their first chef. She says he was trained in the culinary arts and worked for many years in Manhattan. And he had a vision for what he believed would make for great food that would keep customers coming back.
And that, she says, was extremely fortuitous since she’d never been involved in cooking and food prep before now. That, coupled with the chef’s creative vision, has led to great things, food-wise, she says.
“We have a motto — keep it simple, stupid,” Eileen says. “I shop for ingredients every morning. Everything is fresh, every day.”
Among the favorites at the Bean is the fish-and-chips meal. For long-time residents of West Hudson and South Bergen counties, fish-and-chips have always been a local staple. But many of the fish-and-chips eateries have gone elsewhere or has closed in recent years.
“The people just love it,” Eileen says. “We offer the fish-and-chips starting Thursday — and it usually sells out by Saturday. And once it sells out, it’s off the menu until the next Thursday.”
And yet, it’s not just fish-and- chips at the Bean. There are other specials, too, such as a bacon, Swiss and turkey panini, garlic Parmesan wings, an arugala and goatcheese salad and much more.
They also serve a great breakfast, with traditional fare and specialty items like red-velvet pancakes, Irish scones and stuffed French toast. And they’re serving Sunday brunch, buffet style.
And there are seasonal items, too.
The menu, Eileen says, ultimately changes three times a year, depending on the season. So as the fall hits, there will be more offerings, food wise.
Beyond the awesome food menu, of course, are the coffee offerings. You can get a regular cup of joe if you want — or more complex drinks, including espresso-based beverages similar to at other cafes. Eileen says she also offers 10 different kinds of specialty green teas.
So if it’s a caffeine rush you want, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at the Bean.
The Village comes to NA With all due respect, of course, most people don’t think of North Arlington as a hotbed for the arts scene. It’s always been a blue-collar kind of town. But with the Bean becoming a very popular destination for people all over the area, it’s also made NA a new artsy destination. So you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in Greenwich Village, though you’ll really still be in Bergen County.
Inside the coffee house, Eileen says she showcases local artists’ work on the walls. And, even further, there are all sorts of events happening in the place — from open-mic nights (with plenty of music) to literary-review group meetings.
“The art is all over,” she says. “And much of it is from local artists. We’ve also got a creative-writing group that meets here. At first, it was a few people at one table. Now they need three tables. It’s just incredible to see it in action.”
With a corporate background, Eileen completely understands the concept of corporate responsibility. And as such, she and Michael are doing their share of giving back to the community.
Sometime this fall, the Bean will have special Mondays and Tuesdays where artists will display works involving animals. And on those nights, a percentage of all sales will be donated to the Bergen County ASPCA.
Combined, it all makes the Angry Coffee Bean a very special place — right in your backyard.
“Michael and I both love food, art and music,” Eileen says. “We both knew this would be perfect for us. We hope the people in the community see it that way, too.”