Move over, New York. Jersey City is fighting to become one of the culinary hotspots of the Northeast. But will they succeed? It’s tough to tell, but several chef alums from well-known restaurants in New York like Eleven Madison Park, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Allen & Delancey, and Pork Slope, have made the move to Jersey City to open their own restaurants across the river.
In the past 18 months, 10 new restaurants have opened in the New Jersey city on the Hudson, including the rustic French Kitchen at Grove Station by chef David Viana (formerly at Eleven Madison Park and Batello); small plates and ramen café Union Republic by chef Gregory Torrech (alum of Resto, Allen & Delancey); Thirty Acres by chef Kevin Pemoulie (formerly of Craftbar and Momofuku Noodle Bar), and the Asian-American restaurant Talde, run by chef Dale Talde (a Top Chef contestant who trained with Masaharu Morimoto and Jean Georges).
“This has been an extremely tough city to open in,” said chef Kevin Pemoulie, who decided to open his first restaurant in Jersey City. “Things would’ve been easier if we had opened in New York or Brooklyn. It’s a tough love city, but once you get through it and show you’re here to be a part of the community, it can be the kind of place where small businesses support one another. If everyone sticks together and supports one another, then this downtown area can prove to be a great culinary pocket.”
Most of the chefs explained that they desired to move to Jersey City because it was more likely that their talents would be heard, and their food experienced, rather than drowning in an ocean of hundreds of restaurants in New York. Or it could be the astronomical rents in New York that plague restaurant owners.