Among the 34 participants in the eighteenth annual Taste of Weehawken at the Marriott Hotel April 24, there was some rivalry over who had the most unique dish.
House of Cue from Hoboken offered pulled pork sliders, complete with their two signature sauces. First up was the 512 sauce—the name of the area code in Austin, Tex., where pitmaster Michael Rodriguez plied his craft for years—a tomato–based, peppery concoction. The 2-Step sauce is a marriage of Carolina mustard sauce and tomatoes.
“They’re probably the most unique item in this event,” Rodriguez said of the sauces. “The Texas flair, the smoke, the flavors. A little vinegary, savory and smoky, all in one.”
The restaurant plans to open its second location on the first floor of the Weehawken Marriott hotel in August – the hotel where the event was held this year, for the first time.
Two Crepes, located in Union City, was serving up its Banana Montana crepes, comprised of sliced bananas, Nutella, and sugar powder.
They weren’t the only ones offering sweet eats. The Hudson Cakery in Hoboken, near the Weehawken border, offered cake pops and mini chocolate cupcakes.
“They’re small, so when you’re done eating from all these large restaurants, we have something rich and small and portable,” said owner Jennifer Bunce.
Taste of Weehawken has quickly become one of the premiere eating events in town, attracting people from all over Hudson County and beyond. Proceeds from the event go to the Weehawken Public Library. This year, it raised over $20,000 for the library and sold 511 tickets—its most successful yet, according to Library Director Holly Pizzuta.
Made in Weehawken
Weehawken High School’s culinary and pastry arts program selected the best student chefs for the occasion. They created mini-ricotta cheesecakes with items such as cream cheese, raspberry, and simple syrup.
They also had vegetarian meatballs, made with navy beans, button mushrooms, blue cheese, and celery.
“The celery combines with the navy beans and button to give it that fun texture that we want in a meatball,” said WHS senior Matthew Hernandez, 18. After graduating this year, Hernandez is headed to Hudson County Community College to study culinary arts and applied science.
Foreign cuisine was also well represented, with places such as Charritos (locations in Weehawken and Hoboken) for Mexican cuisine and Latin American restaurant Zafra Kitchen in Hoboken.
Molos, a Greek restaurant on the Weehawken waterfront, served up spanakopita and shrimp santorini.
Jack Austin’s, also in Weehawken, offered its 16-hour slow smoked brisket and its six-hour smoked Louisiana style pork ribs.
Karma Kafe of Hoboken was offering its renowned chicken tikka masala, served over basmati rice. Anthony’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Union City had the most bravado. Owners say one of their pizza guys can make 35 pies in an hour, with no lapse in taste.
“We’re very confident about quality,” said Zak Driss, Anthony Pizza’s co-owner, at the pizzeria’s table for the event.
Driss offered passerby pizza and pasta, the latter with artichoke, ricotta, and spinach.
The pasta was one of the most successful dishes at the event, moving at least 200 plates.
“We choose our quality of ingredients selectively,” Driss said. Anthony’s imports its ingredients from overseas and gets food from local farmers.
“Overall, all the food I had was great.” – Steve Rudowsky
What do attendees think?
The eats were a smash with attendees.
Anna Rudowsky, principal at the town’s Daniel Wesbter School, said the “ethnic foods” were her favorites. She had shrimp ceviche from Son Cubano in Union City, waffles from the Brownstone Pancake Bakery in Edgewater, and ice cream from a Ben and Jerry’s table. She came with her husband, Steve, and brother-in-law John and his wife, Kathy.
“Overall, all the food I had was great,” said Steve. But his favorite item of the night was the beer offerings from Hoboken Brewing.
John tried the Weehawken High School cheesecake and Nutella waffles from Brownstone Pancake Factory.
Kathy said she was fond of the ravioli from Italian restaurant Porto Leggero in Jersey City.
Local resident Phil Green and wife Suzanne said they liked the Indian food offerings, along with Cuban restaurant El Unico de Elena, located in Union City and Jack Austin’s pork sliders.
When asked what his favorite dish was, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner played the diplomat, saying, “everything.”
Turner was also on hand to raffle out around 24 different prizes to attendees, including gift certificates to Pier 115 Bar and Grill in Edgewater, Lorraine’s Table in Weehawken, and The Papermill Playhouse. Other participating restaurants at the event included Houlihan’s of Weehawken, Giannone Wine and Liquor Co., Kathryn’s Connections, Merge Café, Touch of Spice, Shakin’ Juice Bar Café, Waterside Restaurant and Catering, Halifax, Haven Riverfront Restaurant and Bar, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Gladis Homemade Cakes, Robongi/Hudson Blue, El Dorado Coffee Roasters, G.P.’s, Chart House Restaurant, Del Frisco’s Grille, and Acapella West.
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