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Sep 13, 2010 07:57 AM

Review of Ariels of Englewood

After eating tons of meat over the holiday, I had the opportunity to take the family out to eat last night and since we were craving dairy, we decided to try the new place in englewood.

Decor- the place is beautiful. It is not your traditional dairy pizza place. I would compare it to what Pasta factory used to be but with a little more warmth. There are 2 dining areas, the area in the back has a huge skylight and beautiful exposed bick. We sat in the back as we are a noisy crew (the hostess sat us there, I think this is part of the system) The place is very clean and bright (some might say too bright) but all in all, the place is very well done.

Service - The service was excellent. Now just so you know, we went early ( I know it was a fast day) and it wasnt especially busy. But the hostess seated us, brought menus and the waitress came right over with water and then gave us time to review the menu. When we did have questions, she was very capapble of answering all our questions and even joked to us that there had been a test about the menu! After we ordered, the waitress came over with a bread basket that had fresh baked bread, not frozen dinner rolls.

Food- this restaurant has so many options that there were many things that we wanted to try but we could not order it all. My wife started with a soup ( I know it is boring, but you can tell a lot about a restaurant just by a soup) they do 2 different soups every day and my wife tried the corn chowder which she said was excellent and I tasted it and agreed. I had a Tuna Tostada, with is seared tune on a tortillia, with avocado, marinated cucumber and chipolte mayo and it was great. For the kids I ordered a mac and cheese and a fish and chips. The mac and cheese also came with string beans which was a nice change from french fries. The kids meals also came with a drink (apple juice) each kids meal was 8.99, i think. Very reasonable.

For our main we were torn, all the pastas looked great but we were drawn to the ravioli for 1 reason. The waitress said they were home-made. Now many times a restaurant will say the something is homemade and I know when it comes that it is not. I dont know why restaurants lie, but the do. I didnt know what to expect. But when they came, they clearly were fresh. They were very large and delicious. The cheese filling had a little pepper added and the whole thing was great. My wife had the sesame salmon which the waitress said was the most popular fish dish and it was excellent.

After stuffing our faces and finishing off the kids meals ( the mac and cheese was delicious, I asked if they do it adult sizes and they do) We had no room for dessert but the dessert menu looks great. They make all the cakes on premise and they also have a pastry chef.

All in all, I would say that this is a great addition to the englewood/teaneck restaurant scene. I would say that the negatives are for the most part, the brightness of the space, the brick walls that seem to accentuate the noise level, and the amount of seating seems to be a little low based on the amount of space they have. However, the important points, food, service and cleanliness are all above average at this spot.

the website is
I will be returning, probably with just my wife, for a nice quiet evening withour the kids

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  1. I had dinner at Ariel’s with one of my girlfriends about two weeks ago and we were thrilled with the food! She and I shared the sweet potato nachos, the chile relleno, the tamale sampler and the lentil salad with tahini. Everything was fresh, well seasoned and delicious! The one thing we ordered that, while tasty, we wouldn’t choose again was the sweet potato nachos. They weren’t what we anticipated. The menu says the sweet potatoes are crispy so we expected sweet potato chips as the base for the nachos. The sweet potatoes were actually half-inch thick slices rather than chips. Again – tasty, but not what we thought they’d be. The amount of food was plenty for two females to share and we left quite satisfied. Our waitress was lovely. She was pleasant, attentive and didn’t rush as. We were able to enjoy or food and chatter away comfortably. We’ll definitely be going back there in the future.

    1. Went there recently. Good food and service. Very pretty decor. Negatives were portions on the small side, (though they were probably more what nutritionally they should be) and very noisy in the back area despite only 2 other tables (due to lots of hard surfaces). Front of the house seemed quieter even though busier. Also the cedar plank salmon was served on a plate which is very odd and made me a bit suspicious if it really was cooked on a plank. Overall a positive experience - much better than any local alternatives (ie Shelly's)

      3 Replies
      1. re: mrogovin

        Re cedar planked salmon- I can understand why it was served on a plate, rather than on the plank. When I've seen it prepared at home, the plank gets all charred and nasty looking- sometimes it's still sparking when the salmon is done. The charring could flake off onto the salmon. The restaurant may also be using one large plank to grill lots of salmon at once rather than individual planks...

        1. re: cheesecake17

          Also, planks are generally reused. I'm not sure of the details of health department rules, but things get a lot more complicated with reuse once it is sent out to a customers table.

          mrogovi, how did the salmon taste? Did it taste like it was cooked on a cedar plank? That's really the only test that matters.

          1. re: avitrek

            It was good, but I did not detect a strong smoky or otherwise discernible flavor

      2. I resisted giving a review as a kosher restaurant in Englewood faces a real challenge (esp. a dairy one). However, now that some positive reviews have been posted, I feel more at ease sharing my experience - my minority view can be discounted.

        Panzanella salad is a delicious, simple dish made from toasted bite-sized pieces of crusty bread, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, usually in a balsamic-based dressing. The bread absorbs some dressing and liquid from the tomatoes, while retaining a little crunch. What I received after ordering a Panzanella salad at Ariel’s was a plate of uncut grape tomatoes – this was in July when fresh Jersey tomatoes are abundant. In lieu of toasted bread, croutons were used. This substitution is unacceptable because the crouton cannot properly integrate into the salad. Finally, to make the dish thoroughly irredeemable, the mozzarella was not fresh (imagine some cubed Miller’s).

        The fish tacos were terrible. Mind you, perhaps I am to blame for ordering a fish dish on a Sunday, but to me, if you cannot offer fresh fish do not put it on the menu. Secondly, the flour tortillas were straight out of the package instead of being properly grilled prior to use. The taco was bland to boot.

        The tamale I had was a nondescript mush. The split pea soup was the best thing I tried there (I also sampled two pasta dishes and pizza). Lunch was no bargain – 2 adults and 3 small children @ $100 (no drinks). Service was friendly but very uneven.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kosher Critic

          Was this restaurant even open in july? I was under the impression by the staff that they have only been open a few weeks...

          KC. I dont think you should resist giving your opinion as most places want to know the problems, especially when they first open in order to correct whatever they are doing wrong.

          If I were you, I would give them another shot, but I would definitely let them know what happened the last time.

          1. re: KosherChef

            You are quite right, KC - it was August.

            1. re: Kosher Critic

              i went there today with my 8 year old daughter. we both had the onion soup - it was one of the better onion soups we have had (the best was slice of life in skokie). She ordered tuna melt with fries (that were really good) and I had papardella with mushrooms. They said they make their own pasta in house. For dessert-creme brulee which was ok and warm flourless cake. We really liked the food and plan to return. As a bonus, the rolls served in the beginning were whole wheat but did not taste like it-they were yummy.

        2. I have to disagree with all of you. My family had dinner at Ariel's two Sundays ago. It was a real disappointment and expensive. The service was slow, the staff was not aware of the ingredients in some of the dishes as a result we ordered food we would not have ordered if we had been correctly informed. The desserts were not completely cooked. All in all, I would never go there again.

          13 Replies
          1. re: cswk

            I was there for brunch and your review, cswk, is spot on. They served me something that was missing one of the ingredients on the list. When I brought this to their attention, they had no idea what I was talking about. There were a bunch of waiters who did not know what to do (to check to see if everything was ok or if we needed anything...) and the place was empty. The food was ok, but I don't think they will last. The bottom line is that there seemed to be no one who was managing it who really cared. As always in Teaneck now Englewood, that is the case. No one really cares.

            1. re: cappucino

              Capp: The sad thing about all of these restaurants is that the owner(s) put so much effort into negotiating a lease, hiring staff and ordering food but they never put themselves in the shoes of the customers. In an economy where many families do not have the disposable income to eat out as they did before, the owners of these new establishments just don't get it. They feel that they just have to open their doors and the world will come beating down to eat by them.

              1. re: Foodtekie

                I completely agree with you, Foodtekie. However that strategy seems to be working for MochaBleu in Teaneck. Everyone I talk to complains of their terrible service. I experienced it when I first went and I've never gone back. But every time I pass by the restaurant, it's packed inside.

                Why do people return repeatedly to a restaurant with inferior service? It's not like it's inexpensive.

                1. re: morris

                  Although I have been a longtime reader of chowhound, I always resisted posting b/c as a restaurant owner, I know what its like opening and running a restaurant and I never want to critisize someone elses hard work however at this point I feel it is necessary to post because I am the owner of Ariels and there are a few things I want to set straight.

                  First of all, Thank you to all the people who have supported us and have consitently come out to the restaurant and enjoyed themselves. I think our menu is very different and exciting and I am very proud of it. I am sorry if some people have not enjoyed their experiences at Ariels. I know that service has been an issue and I am working on training the new staff that I have. Sundays have become very busy (thank g-d) and we have improved.

                  The main thing I want to get across is that we DO care here at Ariels, I am here every day cooking and working with the staff to improve. If you ever want to give me comments at the restaurant I am always willing to listen.

                  I dont think for 1 second that I can just open the doors and people will beat my doors down, as foodtekkie said. We are constantly putting ourselves in customers shoes to see where we can improve.

                  1. re: crms99

                    I appreciate that you came out to comment, crms99. I can't speak for more than just my one experience, but I wonder why there can't be an experienced manager in place in the front. I did not get the feeling that the person there was experienced. The wait staff was another story and are somewhat entitled to a grace period of training. It would have been nice if one of the three people I had dealt with had understood the menu a bit more and understood how to take command of the room. I guess you were in the back at the time, but you must prioritize the face you put forth in the front. Good luck with it. As an aside, I have always wondered (especially in the Teaneck area) if the restaurant owners actually spend time in successful kosher restaurants watching what works and what is standard in an establishment that is considered to have good service. I would think, as in my profession, that apprenticing and copying good work would be a good way to preface your experience as an owner. Again, I appreciate your commenting.

                    1. re: cappucino

                      With a new menu (like when we first opened or when we first started doing brunch) I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. As the kichen crew has been trained on the menu I have moved myself to the front to be more of a host and manager.
                      I completely understand the critisisms and am working on training my new staff better. While I still do spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I am always available to guests who have questions or comments. I make every effort to talk to every table at every service.

                  2. re: morris

                    Morris, I believe the answer to your question lies in the following truth. These people have extra money to burn (and I mean burn) and want only to socialize with their friends as they did in college. It is the Teaneck culture. Service, good food, etc. is not paramount. I think I am too old and too much on a budget to forgive the poor service. (and I can't remember the last time I had time to "hang out" with any of my middle-aged friends). So, it will continue indefinately as long as the culture as it is remains unchanged.

                    1. re: cappucino

                      Morris and Capp: I am not from Chicago but I remember years ago eating at Slice of Life in Skokie and the food tasted like ambrosia ( and I am a carnivore). Then, on another visit to the Chicago area, my wife and I went to a restaurant in Skokie across from Ken's because there was a line extending out the door. The meal and service was awful. The line extending out the door was due to the fact that there was a singles function being held in the restaurant. Never judge a book by its cover!

                      As for the eating habits of the Teaneck/Bergenfield/New Milford community, I have given up trying to figure it out. For years, an Israeli restaurant in town would offer no menus, bring you your soup while you were already eating your main course, bring three pita breads to a table of ten patrons and have the nerve not to serve Israeli pickles with their grilled food because they said they, "couldn't get any." Yet, the restaurant flourished. I can't speak for Mocha Bleu as I have not eaten there. It benefits from its location and it is very pretty inside. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy a restaurant that I walk out of hungry and I have been warned about Mocha Bleu. Anyway, I appreciate the openness of CRMS99 and I will give Ariel's a shot.

                      1. re: Foodtekie

                        My name is Craig and you can ask for me any time you are at Ariels. Thank you and I hope to see you soon.

                        1. re: crms99

                          i have been in ariel's many times and have found service to be good and the food to be really good. we are planning another trip shortly on dec 1 (my son had the onion soup we brought home and would like it served since it will be his b-day)

                    2. re: morris

                      Morris: Many people clamored to get into Bernie Madoff's funds and look how they were duped. Rule number one: never follow the masses!

                2. re: cswk

                  I have to agree with cswk. I've been to Ariel's twice and have been disappointed. The first time I ordered the tamale sampler and couldn't tell which was which (they tasted identical). I called over our waitress who first told me they were identical but then double checked and told me they were supposed to be different. After close inspection I found a tiny sliver of sweet potato in one. Still not sure about the other two. Not to say they tasted bad, just indistinguishable. Sadly I had the gnocchi for my main course and it was slightly raw in the middle. Not bad at first but after a few bites i just couldn't stand the feeling of raw dough. Beignet for dessert also had a raw dough taste (would have been ok if not for the pasta). I figured I'd give the restaurant another chance. Went again a month later. This time the main was ok (fish taco) but the warm apple tart came frozen and tasted mealy. The caramel sauce was warm though. I mentioned it to the server who offered to warm it up properly but I wasn't interested. I wish this restaurant was better than it is. Why can't we have better diary restaurants in Bergen County?

                  1. re: daphnar

                    Time to give my take...
                    Went Saturday night, greeted and seated immediately. Ordered grilled veggies for starter...only zucchini and mushrooms. Good tasting but disappointed with the lack of variety Hubby had fish and chips. I can't comment because he devoured them and didn't leave me any to taste. But then again, he orders the same everywhere...
                    I had the fish tacos. Grilled and blackened tilapia? served in a soft taco with slaw and salad. It was delicious. The tamale (sweet potato) was disappointing. I was hoping to get it served in the corn husk...and the taste was bleh. My husband loved it. I was looking for more flavor.
                    For dessert, I had the bananas foster. No complaints there. My husband had the flourless chocolate cake and it was quite good.
                    The bread and water service were just fine. Waiters - ours and others- stopped several times to ask if all was OK. I ordered a pizza margherita to go. Ate it for lunch the next day. Crust was amazing...sauce could use more ZING!
                    Yes, we'd go again...

                3. Was recently there on a Saturday night and went home kind of disappointed and annoyed that we trekked out there. The menu looked so promising. Had been excited to go there. Excited to take some out of town family there. The service was slow, unattentive, and not very knowedgeable about the menu items. It wasn't busy when we first got there and didn't get somewhat busy until we were leaving.

                  The kids meal was probably the best of the dishes - the mac and cheese.

                  For the appetizers, we got the tuna tostada and a chili rellenos. We grew up in a non kosher world and know what these dishes should taste like. We specifically asked for the tuna to be very rare. The tuna came overcooked with no flavor. The chili rellenos also had no real flavor.

                  My husband got the fish tachos, which came with a tamale. The tamale was inedible and definitely not the flavor of tamale he ordered. There was just a bland corn mush taste to it. The fish in the fish tacos did not taste fresh. The pasta dish I ordered was nothing special. No flavor. I had to ask and then wait 20 minutes for parmesean and ground pepper. The best dish, but still just ok, was the sesame crusted salmon. Again, the fish came overdone. The waiter never really checked on us. Never asked for refills on water.

                  I really hope this place will improve. We do need a nice restaurant that is more innovative like this. It has a great menu that could really go somewhere.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: hindyg

                    we went to ariel's this eve for my son's bday. The chef upon advance notice made for us the onion soup (my son's special request.) the food was quite delicious and quite large servings. My smoked salmon appetizer was basically a main course. The beignets were awesome-we got extra caramel sauce upon request. Craig (the chef/owner) was there to answer any questions or to make good on anything that was incorrect. For all those who post their criticisms after they've left the restaurant, say something while you are there so the staff can make things right instead of after the fact.

                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                      Koshergourmet, when I go out to brunch, I do not wish to educate, enlighten, advise my host. I want to chill out and eat good food. The owner read our previous posts. He's welcome to make the changes in service needed. Some of the problems in service seem to persist.

                      1. re: cappucino

                        if there are problems with service, you should alert the owner. Then he can train the staff better; is still a new establishment. I thought the food was quite good as per above-my son after having left overs from one of my 6 visits with my daughter, asked to go there on his b-day (over steak etc which we have really liked).

                      2. re: koshergourmetmart

                        You mention the owner was there to make good on anything that was incorrect. May I ask what was incorrect?

                        And I agree. Always say something to the staff, manager, owner, if it does not meet your expectations.

                        1. re: loffy

                          there wasn't anything wrong with the meal but he was there to tell if there were. We ordered 2 orders of beignets and they arrived with 2 small cups of homemade caramel sauce. since there were 4 of us and we did not want to doubledip I asked if 2 additional cups could be brought out. Craig (the owner/chef) did so immediately.