web analytics

Category: Business

Business Review: Vito’s Hotdogs brings Sabretts to Harrison & so much more






Photos Courtesy Vito Casale

By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


Most hotdog lovers enjoy a good Sabrett. Or two. Or three or more. But there’s always something even better about eating a Sabrett when it comes from a hot dog truck. Enter Vito’s Hotdogs. Sure, they deliver the Sabretts. But it’s what they put on top of the hotdogs that make them so much more — and better — than just a basic Sabrett.

Owner Vito Casale says there’s a reason why his hotdogs should be rated better than anyone else’s in the area — the freshness of the ingredients. Too often, he says, hotdog venders used canned ingredients. Not him, though. Not by any means.

“Everything I use is top of the line,” Casale said. “I use the best Sabretts, the best buns, the best everything. When you use canned stuff, people know it. When you taste my dogs, you know the difference and a lot of it is because of the freshness of the ingredients that I use.”

And it’s more than just the freshness of the ingredients, too. It’s the little things people don’t often think of when it comes to hotdogs.

“When I was deciding what kind of mustard to use, I tried 13 different brands before I chose one,” Casale said. “We settled on a deli-style mustard, and yes, sometimes, this means people will pay a little more for my hotdogs, but in return, they’re getting better quality. I serve my customers like I’m serving my friends and family — just the best.”

Going into business 

Casale and a business partner of his, prior to opening the truck, tried their hand at a deli business in Newark. When it didn’t work out — Casale says he didn’t pick the right location — he decided he wanted something new and outside the box.

With help from his brother, he decided on buying a truck for the hotdog business. So he got one at a great price out on Long Island. And in August, after three months of work with his uncle, Jimmy, the former potato chip truck was now ready for business. It never would have been possible without his uncle.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how much my uncle Jimmy had to do with my success,” Casale said. “I owe that man everything. And my fiancée, Nicole, who has stood by me the entire way.”

Of all the styles he sells, he says his pride and joy is the Shore Dog.

“They’re all great, but the Shore Dog [see below] is what we’re most proud of,” Casale said. “We really believe when people come to us for the first time, no matter what they order, they’re going to want more — and they’ll be coming back.”

Vito’s Hotdog truck is parked weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the intersection of Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard and Guyon Drive in Harrison. Find out more by visiting www.VitosHotDogs.com or by calling 732-773-9713. Like them on Facebook at www. Facebook.com/vitoshotdogs.

Vito’s Hotdogs menu: 

Basic hotdogs with mustard and/or ketchup: $1.75.

Additional toppings for 50¢ each, including: relish, fire onions, sweet or raw onions, kraut, homemade chili, potatoes, cheese, sweet peppers, long-hot peppers, coleslaw.

Specialty dogs: 

The Ol’ Salty: sweet relish, crispy bacon, sea salt.

The Dom Dog: Chicago style.

The Dragon Dog: Asian mustard, fire onions, longhot pepper, habanero sauce, seeds.

The Shore Dog: Coleslaw, sriracha and Jersey tomato.

The Junk Yard Dog: Ask for details.

Welsh joins Brady, Brady & Reilly firm

James C. Welsh, supervising judge of compensation, has joined Brady, Brady and Reilly of Kearny as head of the Workers’ Compensation Department. Judge Welsh has more than 43 years of experience in handling workers’ compensation cases, with the last 22 years as the supervising judge in Hudson County.

He has received various awards from the Hudson County Bar Association including:

May 3, 2006 – For commitment to fair and legal treatment to petitioners and Respondents alike. Read more »

Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service celebrates its 3rd decade in business


By Kevin Canessa Jr 

Observer correspondent 


If you’ve ever taken a ride along Kearny Ave., the sad reality is that what you see today is not often what you saw 20, 15 or even five years ago. Many businesses simply come and go, and the buildings they occupied often have new tenants quicker than you can blink.

But for one business on the Avenue, time has stood still.

This year marks Bernadette Antonelli’s 30th year leading Arlington Tax and Bookkeeping Service at 764 Kearny Ave. Back in 1985 when she first opened, her only “employee” was her mom, Alice Belfiore. Antonelli never even thought that now, 30 years later, she would still be doing what she loves to do.

But she is, though this tax season, unlike the last 29, will be vastly different.

That’s because her mom, who was with her every step of the last 29 years — and who was always in the office helping her in the months leading to April 15 — died Sept. 30 at the age of 92.

It will mean a lot of people will miss Mrs. Belfiore when they come in for their tax work. It will also be a lot different for Antonelli, who enjoyed every minute of having her mom with her during tax season.

“My mom worked with me from the day I opened my business,” Antonelli said. “It was expected that she would only be there for a few years until I got on my feet. As the years went on, not only did she love working during tax season, but she became a very important part of the business.”

Most clients would always go out of their way to say hello to Mrs. Belfiore if she was in the office. And they’d ask about her when she wasn’t.


Photos courtesy Bernadette Antonelli Bernadette Antonelli (l.), her mother, the late Alice Belfiore, and her daughter Brianna Antonelli at Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service in Kearny.

Photos courtesy Bernadette Antonelli
Bernadette Antonelli (l.), her mother, the late Alice Belfiore, and her daughter Brianna Antonelli at Arlington Tax & Bookkeeping Service in Kearny.


“And that’s because she got to know all of my clients. They all loved her,” Antonelli said. “She once said that if she knew she was going to be working with me for all the years that she did, that she would have learned to use the computer.”

The greatest challenge this tax season will be for Antonelli to have to answer where her mom is when asked by clients who might not know she died. But having her daughter with her to continue a family tradition certainly helps.

“She (mom) was so proud of me and all that I accomplished and now of (my daughter) Brianna for following in my footsteps,” Antonelli said. “Brianna is now an important part of the business. Although she has been helping out in the office since she was a teenager, she is now in graduate school and will receive her master’s degree in taxation in April. It thrills me that the legacy of this business will continue.”

For more information, or to set up an appointment, call Antonelli at 201-991-8888, email her at BAntonelli@arlingtontax. com or log on to www.ArlingtonTax.com.

New owner at The Smile and Implant Center


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


Generations of residents of West Hudson and South Bergen counties have come to know just how special a place The Smile and Implant Center is. Even people who often cringe going to the dentist will tell you that fear is rare when they enter this practice’s doors.

And while that same family and welcoming atmosphere is still as strong as it’s ever been — there’s been a significant change in leadership, as Dr. Blair Schachtel, D.M.D., has purchased the business and has taken over the practice with a partner.

Schactel is an experienced dentist, having successfully practiced in Livingston for 18 years. His practice there remains. But when he heard The Smile and Implant Center was on the market, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“I’d known about the place for many years,” Schachtel said. “I knew there was a wonderful staff and that patients were always treated like family — and they’d do anything for the patient. When I found out it was for sale, I made a quick call, and later that day, I was meeting with the then owners.

“We made a deal quickly. And here we are now.”

One of the reasons Schachtel says he was interested in taking over The Smile and Implant Center was because over the years, the practice had boomed.

“It just kept growing by leaps and bounds,” he said. “Plus any place that treats patients like family is a special place.”

And indeed, that family aura continues under Schachtel’s leadership.

But what sets this practice apart from many other dental practices is that if you go there — and need any kind of dental work, and we mean any — you won’t be shuffled off to specialists elsewhere. That’s because every kind of dental specialist is already on staff at The Smile and Implant Center.

“Patients never have to leave here and do their dental work in phases,” Schachtel said. “We’ve got on staff an oral surgeon, an anesthesiologist, a periodontist, a pediatric dentist. And we also have a dermatologist who perform Botox treatments right here on site.”

And it’s the people who have dedicated their lives to the practice that have impressed Schachtel the most.

“There are four people here who have been on the staff for more than 25 years. That’s incredible,” he said. “Even though I’ve only been here for a few days, I knew from day one that this place was different. The respect and care they’ve all shown me has been incredible — and I know that translates well with our patients.”

Meanwhile, Schachtel says that prospective clients should never tell themselves they can’t get dental work done because of finances. He said The Smile and Implant Center will work with patients to come up with a financial plan that’s comfortable for the practice and the patient.

“We don’t want to turn patients down because of the cost of dental care,” he said. “Think of it this way. When people need dental work — and they put it off — that care is going to cost a lot more down the line. So we want people to get done what needs to be done as soon as possible so the cost is less. Finances should never be a factor when determining whether to get dental care.”

So whether you’re a longtime patient — or someone in need of a new dentist — you’ll likely find The Smile and Implant Center is where you’ll want to go.

“They may come in nervous at first, but by the time they leave, they’ll be calm and looking forward to their next visit,” Schachtel said.

Indeed. The Smile and Implant Center is located at 837 Kearny Ave., Kearny. Call them at 201-991-1055. Hours of operation are: Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Visit them online at www.TheSmileAndImplantCenter.com for more details.

Back home & giving ‘Maximum’ effort


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent


It’s one thing when a brother and sister get on very well. It’s even more unique, perhaps, when they go to college for the same major and then open a business together.

And that’s exactly what happened with Paige and James Van Dien, both North Arlington natives and co-owners of Maximum Performance Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Center.

Both Van Diens got their master’s degrees in physical therapy from Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. It all happened by chance, Paige says, that the duo shared a mutual love for physical therapy. After getting their graduate degrees, they both went on to practice their craft at various venues.

But their dream was to open their own PT business — and that’s exactly what they did in January 2013.

“It was something James and I wanted to do for a while,” Paige said. “Having worked at other facilities, we knew what we liked, what we didn’t like, and so we finally decided we had nothing to lose since we’re both still young. We looked around at different locations, and ultimately decided that because we’re originally from North Arlington, that this would be a great place to settle the business.

“This is our town, so it all worked out well.”

Indeed it did.

When they first opened the business, the Van Diens made arrangements with numerous local doctors who deal with patients in need of PT and rehabilitation. They’d take them out to lunch, explain what they had to offer — and ask the doctors to give them a chance by referring patients.

And from there, the rest is history.

Maximum Performance’s clientele has grown exponentially since January 2013.

But it hasn’t just been physician referrals that have helped.

“Since we’re from North Arlington, we do know a lot of people — and a lot of people know our family,” Paige said. “So with that and through word of mouth, we’ve grown nicely.”

Typically, for insurance purposes, patients who need PT and rehab are written prescriptions by their doctors, who then refer them to a PT center. Paige says it’s surprising how many insurance policies actually cover physical therapy.

“That’s why we always tell our patients to call us first with insurance information so our receptionist can verify what is or isn’t covered,” she said. “But we will work with patients whose insurance doesn’t cover physical therapy — or with patients who are uninsured.”

When finances are a challenge, there’s little to worry about. They’ll work with you on a payment plan if that’s a needed option.

So what are the injuries most commonly seen at Maximum Performance?

“We definitely see a lot of orthopedic injuries,” Paige said. “From muscle sprains, to joint sprains, to post-op care, back and neck surgeries from injuries and spinal injuries, we do see a variety.”

Many of the patients are also athletes, Paige said. And not too long ago, she treated a fairly well-known athlete in this neck of the woods.

“We’ve taped Brandon Jacobs, [formerly] of the New York Giants prior to his games,” Paige said. “It was great having him here.”

Not all physical therapy and rehabilitation centers are alike, Paige says, and what sets Maximum Performance apart is this: “When you’re with us, you’ll only deal with us — my brother or me — and never an aide. In many other practices, a patient will work with a therapist for around 10 minutes, and then get handed off to an aide. Here, that never happens. We never pass anyone off. For around 30 minutes, you’ll work with us and us alone.”

So it’s the personal attention and care that stands out. “It means there are long hours, but it’s well worth it,” she said. “Whether it’s a young child, or a 95-year-old person, we want our clients to get only the very best.”

Only the very best, indeed. Maximum Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation is located at 170 Schuyler Ave., Suite 3, North Arlington. Hours of operation are: Monday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find out more about the practice by visiting www.Maximum Performance Physical Therapy.com at any time or by calling 201-991- 3800 during business hours.

Gold & Diamond Trading: a gem in our own back yard


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


If you’re looking to buy gold, silver, platinum or diamond jewelry, Gold & Diamond Trading in Harrison likely has what you need. If you’re looking for a great Rolex, they’ll have that, too. And, if you already possess such items and are looking to sell them, you’ll be able to make some cash at the most reasonable buy-back rates in the area.

For the last six years, Gold & Diamond Trading has been operating at 15 Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard North.

Owner Jack Malki is a third-generation jeweler.

“This has been in the family for three generations,” Malki said. “Before I opened here in Harrison, I operated a business in Rockaway. I really enjoy what I do.”

While there are several jewelers to choose from locally, Malki said there are numerous things that separate his business from the competition. Most notably, he says, 90% of all repairs are done right on site.

“And if a customer has something that needs to be repaired, and we don’t have a part for it, and this rarely happens, we will never ask to keep the customer’s things here – we’ll order the parts — and they come back when the parts arrive. They can leave their items here. But I completely understand that most people don’t want to leave valuables somewhere for any amount of time,” Malki said.

Because all repairs are done on site, chances are if you need something fixed, your wait time will be minimal.

“We do the repairs with great care and concern,” Malki said. “And because I have all the machines here that can do the repairs, if a customer comes in and we have the parts, they can simply wait here and the repairs will be done very quickly. It’s the advantage of having the equipment here — come in, give us what you want repaired, and I’ll do it.”

While there are other employees at Gold & Diamond Trading, Malki says he’s the only person who performs the repairs. His many years of experience — and care for his customers — won’t allow him to do otherwise.

“I want to be sure everything is done correctly and quickly,” he said.

While not all jewelers buy things, Gold & Diamond Trading prides itself on its commitment to buy topquality gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and watches.

“We will assess anything anyone brings in to sell,” he said. “And what separates us from others, again, is that we will offer a very fair price. If someone has a better offer and it’s within reason, we’ll match the offer, as well.”

Generally, most of the watches he buys are genuine Rolexes. And he can spot an authentic one from a fake in a heartbeat.

“Absolutely, I can tell the real ones from the others,” he said.

Another indication of the quality of his work, Malki said, is that he draws customers from all over — not just locally.

“We have customers from Jersey City, Bayonne, North Arlington, Harrison, Kearny — all over,” Malki said. “And we’re able to do this because our customers know if they’re buying, they’ll get the best at the fairest prices. If they’re selling, they’ll make the fairest money back. We treat everyone like they’re our own — and that’s part of the reason we’ve always been successful.”

Visit Gold & Diamond Trading at 15 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. North, Harrison, Monday to Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/golddiamondtrading. Call 973-484-3000.

Firepit Quality Meats offers take-home BBQ & lots more


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


John Patoilo, owner of Firepit Barbecue, says over the years, his customers have asked him how they can get their hands on the meats and oils and sauces he uses at his restaurants. And because of that, he’s wanted, for the longest time, to open a butcher shop of his own.

Over that time, he tried and tried and tried to convince his friend, and now partner, Jose Almeida, owner of Simoes and Almeida in Kearny, to join him in opening up a modern meat store.

Finally, after years of discussions and coaxing, Almeida agreed — and now, Firepit Quality Meats has finally opened at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. And all those great tastes customers are accustomed to at the barbecue can now be taken home for dinner, parties and then some.

“I’d been chasing Ze (Jose) for two years,” Patoilo said. “I would tell him that I’d love to be his partner. Eventually, he asked me what my vision was and when I explained it to him, it clicked. And at that point, he said, ‘sign me up.’ That was around June — and now, just a few weeks ago, we had our grand opening and we’re up, running and enjoying every second of it.”

So just what could one expect to find at Firepit Quality Meats? Well, for starters, clearly, meats.

“There are all sorts of meats available — and not just what you’d find at the barbecue,” Patoilo said. “For starters, we have Boar’s Head cold cuts. You’ll also find smoked sausages, pork loins, other kinds of pork, chicken, angus supreme beef, steaks, short ribs, fresh turkey and American veal.”

But there’s much more than the great meats.

“We also have Portuguese olive oils, cheeses from Portugal, Norwegian cod and breads from Teixeira’s Bakery delivered each day,” Patoilo said.

So in addition to the store being a great stop for meats, you can also pop in for a sandwich. In essence, Firepit Quality Meats is a butcher shop and a deli all in one.

And it’s not just Portuguese food available for sale.

“You’ll also find your milk and dairy products, eggs, and things of that nature as well,” Patoilo said. “We have pastas, canned fish, tuna, sardines, incredible jumbo shrimp, tilapia. The fish is high quality, so we hope people will come in to see the incredible variety we have to offer.”

Some of Almeida’s noted products are available, too, including an array of marinated meats.

But the bottom line, Patoilo says, is that if you want to take the taste of Firepit Barbecue home with you, you’ll have plenty of choices.

“Sometimes, people prefer to entertain at home instead of going out,” he said. “So if you’re having 40 people over at the house for a party, you can have that great-tasting food at home for your big crowd. We love this approach and think it will be very successful.”

Firepit Quality Meats is located at 617 Ridge Road, North Arlington. Reach them by phone at 201-991- 6379. Hours of operation are Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ease your pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture in Harrison


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 


There’s an epidemic in this country — and sadly, it involves millions of people who suffer from chronic pain. To treat the unbearable pain — caused by a myriad of complications from Sciatica to simple work-place accidents — many people have no other choice but to use very strong pain medication.

And often enough, that use of pain pills leads to outright addiction.

But there are alternatives to using pain meds — and one of those alternatives is right in your backyard in Harrison.

Dr. Weiping Li runs the Lee Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Center in town — and she’s got another office on Grove Street in Downtown Jersey City. Li is a licensed acupuncturist in New Jersey and New York and also earned a diploma in acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine more than 20 years ago. She’s specially trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and western medicine.

Li recently sat down with The Observer to discuss the beneficial uses of acupuncture — and some of those uses might be surprising.

“We specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, but have many other ways we serve patients,” Li said. “From Chinese herbs, to teas to massage to foot reflexology, we use all different kinds of methods to alleviate all kinds of pain.”

Li says most of her patients come to her complaining of chronic back pain, muscle pain, knee and elbow issues, Carpal Tunnel syndrome, Sciatica and muscle spasms.

Her methods also help people with allergies, asthma, stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

But it’s women with fertility issues who she says benefit greatly from her work.

“Most people don’t know that infertile women can be helped by acupuncture,” Li said. “Of late, gynecologists recommend acupuncture to women who have trouble getting pregnant. The treatments can balance hormone levels, give women more confidence and make irregular periods more regular.”

The treatments for women with fertility issues, she says, help to relieve poor circulation of blood in the pelvic area, a common cause of infertility, and can boost the percentage of women who have had trouble getting pregnant.

“Not so long ago, a patient of mine, who was an oncologist, came to us after trying 10 times to get pregnant with in-vetro fertilization,” she said. “She was frustrated and ready to give up, but then her gynecologist suggested she try acupuncture. So that is what she did — she came to us for a few months of treatment.

“The 11th time she tried in-vetro fertilization, she got pregnant. It was a great story. And it can happen to others in a similar situation.”

Li also says acupuncture and TCM can also help people who are overweight and who want to stop smoking.

“In Chinese medicine, we say the body doesn’t get enough balance when people are overweight,” Li said. “Sometimes, people are overweight and they don’t even eat a lot of bad food. It’s a slow process — many months maybe — but after and during acupuncture treatment, there’s more of a balance. The fat doesn’t stay just around the belly. It balances better to all parts of the body and slowly, people see the weight go down.

“It really helps the digestive function.”

Of course, patients also have to commit to a more healthy diet, regardless of how they’ve eaten in the past.

“No sweets!” she said, laughing. As for smoking, Li says there are special points in the human body that control addiction. With acupuncture treatment, cravings for nicotine and other drugs can subside.

“It has helped people quit smoking and other drugs,” she said. “And for others, it’s controlled the desire for the drugs.”

To experience what Li has to offer, you don’t need insurance, and treatments are reasonably priced. She says most insurance plans don’t cover acupuncture, but if yours does, it’s accepted. T

he Harrison Lee TCM Health Center is located at 215 N. Second St., and the Jersey City center is at 293 Grove St. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and weekends, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For additional information, to see a menu of services and costs, or to make an appointment, call the center in Harrison at 973-482-1530, or the center in Jersey City at 201- 915-0710 or visit www.leetcmhealthcenter.com.

You won’t go away hungry at Mama Angelo’s


By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 


Some restaurants claim everything they make is from scratch. Eventually, you learn it’s not all really homemade. But the truth is, at Mama Angelo’s, everything served really is made from scratch — even the pasta — says owner Larry Angelo, a lifelong Kearny resident.

“Everything is fresh. Everything is made from scratch each day,” Angelo said. “I have a pasta maker, also, and we make sure the pasta is fresh each day too. Nothing frozen. Nothing processed. Nothing pre-cooked. Only the best ingredients.”

Angelo and hs family opened up the Italian-American restaurant in 2010. And ever since, he says he’s been thrilled to share his family’s love for cooking and food with the public.

“Every single recipe we have is a family recipe,” Angelo said. “They’re all from my mom, my dad and others in the family.”

At Mama Angelo’s, Larry says customers should expect big portions at moderate prices. And, he says they should expect to be treated as if they were guests at his family’s home.

“If you’re looking for a quick five-minute experience, like to grab a sandwich and run, you won’t get that here,” he said. “We want everyone to feel like they’re a guest at our home. It’s all about the family atmosphere here.”

Angelo and his family take the commitment to providing a family atmosphere so seriously that every single dish served must first pass a quality check by him or a member of the Angelo clan.

“It’s not leaving the kitchen unless I check it first or my mom, or dad — someone in the family,” he said. “We want to be certain everything we serve is as it should be. This sets us apart from many other places. We’re always here to ensure our customers get the very best. Most other places, the owners don’t even show up.”

Among the many dishes available at Mama Angelo’s that Larry says they’re most noted for are all their pastas, fresh meatballs and Giambotta pork chops.

In fact, if you go to Mama Angelo’s, there’s a contest for anyone to try.

Eat two of the huge Giambotta pork chops in 18 minutes, and you’ll get $18 plus a gift card from the restaurant. They’re that big — and that good — he says.

“No one has completed the task yet,” he said. “Not even close. Some have tried, but it really is a challenge.”

Mama Angelo’s is also noted for its thin-crust, brick-oven pizza. “If you really want Italianstyle pizza, this is it,” he said. Mama Angelo’s is a BOYB establishment. But that hardly matters, given the kind of experience you’ll go through at the place if you give it a try. There’s seating for 65 inside the restaurant, but if you prefer to dine alfresco, there’s also 20 seats outside on the patio.

“People come hungry and always leave satisfied,” he said. “What you get here is true old-world dining — and if people haven’t given us a try yet, we think they’ll enjoy what they see.”

Mama Angelo’s, at 440 Ridge Road, North Arlington, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. They’re closed Mondays. For additional information, menus and testimonials, visit www.theoriginalmamaangelos.com or call 201-997-0577. Takeout and delivery from Harrison north to Wood-Ridge is available for free.

Sushi Samba is worth the trip to the West Village


By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 


If you’re a fan of sushi — but don’t like being limited to just sushi when you go out to eat — Sushi Samba in New York City’s West Village is the place to go. Better yet, if you like a mix of Brazilian and Peruvian food, you’re going to fall in love with Sushi Samba quicker than you could imagine.

The first Sushi Samba opened in New York City in 2000, when one of the owners, a frequent visitor to Sao Paolo, Brazil learned that Sao Paolo had the largest concentration of Japanese people outside Japan, according to the restaurant’s general manager Joe Ofmani. Back then, the owner decided he wanted to fuse a love for sushi with the incredible cuisines of Brazil and Peru.

And from there, things took off.

There are now other locations in London, Las Vegas, South Beach Miami and Coral Gables, Fla. (home to the University of Miami).

Dining at any of the locations, but most notably in New York, is like nothing you’ll experience elsewhere, Ofmani says.



“And that’s because we like people to really enjoy the whole experience at Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said. “We want our guests to experience the menu and the atmosphere. We ask our guests what they like and don’t like. So what ultimately happens is our diners will enjoy sushi and hot food together.”

Ofmani says the concept at Sushi Samba is to “share a little of a lot of food.”

“It’s family style,” he said. “And our patrons really enjoy it that way.”

But it’s hardly just the food that contributes to the whole experience at Sushi Samba. Every Friday and Saturday night, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., there’s a DJ on hand to play what Ofmani calls “Samba House” music.

“There’s a lot of drum and bass sounds,” Ofmani said. “It really contributes to a great atmosphere.”

That atmosphere is spread over two entire floors, as well.

There’s a huge dining area that includes an incredibly big bar (see above photos). And, the second floor includes a completely outdoor dining experience with New York City views.

“If the weather is good, it’s a great way to experience Sushi Samba,” Ofmani said.

Ofmani says there are two happy hours at Sushi Samba every day of the week except Saturdays. The first is from 4 to 7 p.m., and the second is from 11 p.m. until closing. There are a lot of drink specials — and that includes the city’s largest selection of the Japanese drink sake.

Sake is made from fermented rice, Ofmani says, and its creation process is similar to the preparation of beer.

“We pair it with the types of food people decide to order,” Ofmani said. “It’s a lot like how wine is paired with different foods. There are many kinds to choose from.”

So just how good is Sushi Samba?

Lots of celebrities have dined there over the years.

You never know if you’ll bump into former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, or Jamie Foxx, Alyssa Milano, Willow Smith, Lindsay Lohan — or a host of others who have repeatedly returned to the restaurant.

And, not too long ago, chefs from the restaurant appeared on “Good Day New York” with Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto.

So if you’re looking for a great meal and want the entire New York City experience, give Sushi Samba a try. Chances are by the time you get home, you’ll be stuffed and planning another visit to the place in the not-too-distant future.