Orale Mexican Kitchen Makes The Blue Collar Foodie Say OMG!!!

As a wandering gourmand, my passion for the epicurean spirit has led me to establishments near and far. I have always said that good food is worth traveling for, and I have been known to embark on a gastronomic voyage, simply because of a fellow foodie’s recommendation.   These adventures have brought me to places that I still dream about today and conversely these excursions have been responsible for numerous night terrors.

I thoroughly enjoy the anticipation of driving to a restaurant that I have never been to before. There is a certain Schrödinger’s cat like perception, because as I am in transit the restaurant is both bad and good. This is why I continue doing this wild and crazy hobby turned damn near full time job, that and of course, I freaking love food like Kayne West loves being a douche.

Orale SignWith that said, after hearing some great things about a relatively new restaurant located at 341 Grove Street in Jersey City called Orale Mexican Kitchen, Kat and I decided to leave our comfort zone of Bergen County and head to Hudson County to give Orale a whirl. As stated above, I will travel for food, and even though Jersey City is not far, I rarely find myself in that neck of the woods, but if the internets were not lying, Orale was a must hit eatery in the ever evolving Jersey City Foodie Scene.

Not sure what to expect as we fought our way through traffic to make our 7:30 reservation, we decided to peruse the menu. While we did the New Jersey traffic dance which consists of accelerating to 75 miles an hour, braking the instant you get to a good cruising speed, traveling at 4.5 miles an hour, honking at the idiot that is texting and changing lanes without using his signal, dropping several F-bombs, throwing up so many hand signs that everyone around you thinks you are in the bloods, and then accelerating once again to 75 miles an hour only to rinse and repeat, Kat and I realized that Orale was not your typical taco joint.

First off, Orale’s menu is based on the following principle, “It is our belief that the best meals are those that are shared. It is in the passing of plates amongst friends and the communal savoring of multiple small-bite dishes that the true spirit of our cuisine resides. All items will arrive at the table as they are prepared.”  Meaning that Orale Mexican Kitchen is all about the shared experience that food can convey to a table of friends. This pseudo communistic outlook on eating a meal is making a comeback as more and more people begin to embrace the epicurean sub-culture, because it allows everyone that is involved to experience more than just one of the chef’s culinary creations.

Orale Crispy Pork Guacamole Furthermore, as we participated in our New Jersey Highway Hoedown, we noticed that the food that Orale was offering was not your ordinary Mexican fare either. Since I enjoy living, Kat read the menu to me because if texting while driving is dangerous, menu reading while bobbing and weaving through rush hour traffic is about as safe as jumping into a car with Lindsay Lohan after a night of twerking and pill popping. Every dish that Kat verbalized made me want to commandeer a police car and head to Orale with the lights and sirens blaring. Menu items like Crispy Braised Pork Belly Guacamole, Roasted Bone Marrow Tacos, and Empanadas Made with Green Masa Filled with Shrimp, Cilantro, Chipotle and Lime were just some of the highlights of the extensive menu that Orale Mexican Kitchen offers on a regular basis.

When we arrived, Kat and I were lucky to find a parking spot within walking distance of Orale, and we headed to our dinner destination. As we entered the dining area, I fell in love with the décor. From the brick walls, to the graffiti that adorned them, the entire restaurant gave off an excellent modern vibe that was a welcomed change to the hum drum atmosphere that some restaurants create within their walls.

As soon as we were seated, we were met at our table by Christian, our server who discussed the extensive cocktail and food menu with us. Christian’s knowledge of what Orale served was extremely helpful and he guided us as we perused the menu. Thanks to his expert suggestions, I decided to go with a classic yet always refreshing Margarita while Kat set her sights on the White Wine Sangria.

Once our beverage order was in, Kat and I turned our attention to the food menu which we had already engaged in some serious foodie foreplay with in the car. Thanks to our traffic induced tryst with this drool inducing carte du jour, we already had a vague idea of what we wanted to sample at our first visit to Orale Mexican Kitchen. With a few more glances at the menu, we had made up our minds and as soon as our drinks arrived, we were able to place our food order.

Guacamole TrioFor our appetizer, we decided on the Trio of Guacamole which allowed us to choose three different guacamoles to sample. We chose the Casa, or house, the Chipotle, and the Crispy Pork Belly. As for our entrees, Kat being a taco fanatic decided to try the Chicken Tacos that were described as Shredded Chicken Tinga Topped with Soy Pickled Serrano Chiles & Yellow Tomato Pico, whereas I chose the Bone in Lamb Ribs with a Tamarind Chili Glaze paired with a Jicama Slaw and Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash.

Orale DrinksAfter ordering our food, it was time to taste the beautiful cocktails that were brought to our table. Kat’s white sangria was topped with fresh fruit and tasted remarkable. The flavor of the fruit was apparent but not overbearing allowing the wine to still be the star of the drink. My Elite Margarita was appropriately named as it was one of the best margaritas I had tasted in quite some time. It walked a fine line between refreshing and strong while delivering a tremendous flavor.

It was not long after we ordered our meals that our trio of Guacamole arrived at our table.   As I took picture after picture of this culinary masterpiece, I could feel Kat’s glare, burning a hole in my forehead. Kat is normally a very patient person when it comes to my overzealous food photography but standing in between Kat and fresh Guacamole is tantamount to stealing a polar bear’s baby and then taunting the mother by making the new born cub do the Cha-Cha Slide instead of running for your life.

After all the photographs were taken, we dipped a chip into each of the guacamoles before we discussed any of them. We then compared and contrasted these delicious concoctions like Bill Belicheck dissects film on a Monday morning. What we came up with is that each of the varieties we chose was good in its own right. The house guacamole had the perfect texture and for the traditionalist, it was the perfect guac. The chipotle was basically the house guacamole with just the right amount of kick that would satisfy the spice seeking guacamole lover. Then there was the extremely impressive Crispy Pork Belly guacamole that literally made me sound like a porn star upon first bite, due to the unintentional moan that I released. The salty crunch of the pork belly combined with the subtle yet flavorful guacamole achieved in my opinion guacamole Nirvana.

Eye of Orale To top it off, the Trio of guacamole was served with house made sauces that took these wonderful creations to a whole other level of scrumptiousness. These sauces were once again described by the knowledgeable Christian, and we began to experiment with them. All three of the sauces were fantastic when paired with the guacamole singularly, but as if I were Bill Nye the Foodie Guy, I did not stop there. We continued this hedonistic food experiment by mixing the sauces together.  After we tasted two of the sauces together, we decided we were going to be forced to move to Utah and become sauce polygamists, that is until we tried all three combined with the guacamole on a chip, and realized that we were actually going to have to move to Texas and create a sauce cult.

While we finished off our amazing appetizer, we did what every couple that is out to dinner does, discuss the finer points of our crappy day and how much the food we were eating was doing to make it better. During our conversation, we noticed something spectacular about Orale. There was enough music to drowned out the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant but not too much to stifle conversations. I have been to way to many “hip” eateries that pump in music at an obnoxious level forcing their patrons to yell at each other like Howard Wolowitz and his Mother, and I was extremely happy with Orale’s decision to not give into this annoying trend.

Orale Lamb RibsOnce we were done hating on our day like Grumpy Cat hates on this Smiley Cat Compilation, our entrees arrived.   Both plates appeared to be two parts food and one part art, thanks to the dutiful and noticeable attention the chef paid to presentation. With a small sense of guilt as if I was drawing on the Mona Lisa with a crayon, I cut into my Lamb Ribs, and I was amazed at how tender the meat really was. My knife fell through the meat, as if it was a Honey Badger’s claws ripping through, well let’s be honest anything that is not a honey badger.

These Lamb Ribs were not only tender and juicy, but they tasted incredible. I was slightly nervous when I ordered this dish that the gaminess of the Lamb would be too strong but that was not the case. I was informed that they marinade these fantastic bone-in ribs in yogurt in order to extract most of the gaminess before applying the tamarind sauce that paired perfectly with the lambey goodness.

Orale Butternut SquashAfter tasting the lamb ribs, I was under the impression that the side dishes of this meal would be nothing more than an afterthought, but I was dead wrong.   The sweet & spicy butternut squash was the most remarkable seasonal side dish I have ever had, and I am a huge fall food fan. The duality of this dish was expertly created by the chef, and I could have eaten a bucket full of this brilliant vegetable side.

After tasting each portion of my meal, I assure you that I was skeptical to share even one morsel of it with Kat, but when in Rome right. I followed the Orale Mexican Kitchen’s guide to karmatic communal food sharing, and I was met with a welcomed dose of instant karma, of the rare good variety. Upon taking my first bite, I could not hold back a smile. These mini-tacos may have been small in size but they packed a mighty flavor punch.   Not to mention Kat decided to follow the Boy Scout motto and saved some of the guacamole to pair with her tacos which only added to the awesome sauce that these tacos were pouring all over me. (TWSS)   Furthermore, Kat’s chicken taco dish was designed for sharing as it came with six mini taco shells stuffed with yummy goodness.

Orale Chicken TacoAs we finished our meal, we made the fatal mistake of glancing at the dessert menu, and even though we were absolutely full, we simply could not pass up the opportunity to try the Helados Domingo described as Vanilla & Chocolate Ice Cream, Cajeta, Chocolate Sauce, Crumbled Cookies, and Caramelized Bananas. If an alcoholic, nicotine addict first tasted this dessert and was then given the option to give up booze and cancer sticks or the Helados Domingo for the rest of their life, 99 out of 100 of them would choose to give up the former as opposed to the latter. Yea, it is that kind of good. Don’t believe me, I guess you will have to bring your ass to Jersey City and try it yourself; careful though, just like cigarettes and heroin, it is habit forming.

Orale Helados DomingoI know this review was rather verbose and if you made it this far, you deserve a Helados Domingo, but when I walk into a restaurant that gets it like Orale gets it; I can’t help but sing its praises. But believe me, you do not want to hear me sing, I sound like an auto tuned cat in heat participating in a duet with Justin Beiber, so instead of singing, I will use the clickity clack of my keyboard and the vastness of the world wide web to get my message out. After reading this review that message should be clear, Orale Mexican Kitchen is a must try establishment for anyone that fancies themselves to be a food connoisseur.

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The Best Pizzeria In Millville, NJ May Very Well Be The Best Pizzeria In The World!

New Jersey, in general seems to be everyone’s least favorite state, and to be honest our bulbous surly governor and the entire cast of the Jersey Shore does not help our cause. With this said, there are a few things that New Jersey is not only known for, but dare I say it actually loved for. First and foremost, we have Taylor Ham and you don’t, and if you are from this area you know all about this flavorful salty pork puck, that former Jersians crave so much, they have to make a yearly pilgrimage to a true New Jersey Diner just to get their fix. Secondly, New Jersey supplies its residents with bagels that are so damn tasty that no one seems to notice that this popular breakfast treat has about as much nutritional value as tree bark wrapped in bacon. Lastly, and at least in the context of this article most importantly, New Jersey is home to the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD! Calm down, New Yorkers, I can hear you cursing me out from across the G Dub, you are a close second, and seriously you are New York F-ing City, you beat us in every other category from Architecture to Zoos, so please let the red headed step child of the union that is New Jersey have this one.

Now that I have thrown the gauntlet down and expressed my love, no, obsession for New Jersey Pizza, and basically lost all of my readership from New York and Pennsylvania, I feel that I might as well further alienate myself, and piss off the New Jersey folks too, by proclaiming, in my opinion, which Pizzeria is slinging the best slice. Now, by making this statement I am breaking my own rule, which states one should never start a conversation which is bound to turn into a debate, and ultimately into a no holds barred battle royal, by bringing up politics, religion, or Pizzeria Prowess, but I have decided to throw caution to the wind and shout my declaration from the roof tops, or at least from the top of your internet browser. As I write this, I am anticipating a crap load of hate mail from every Tony, Don, and Horatio that trolls around the internet looking for blogs to flame, but remember first place is a lot like the Highlander, there can only be one, and this foodie, unlike our society today, does not hand out participation medals, so send your nasty grams somewhere else. Now without further ado, I, The Blue Collar Foodie, from atop my virtual soap box, proclaim, with the entire internets as my witness, that BIMS Pizza, located at 618 E. Main St. in Millville, NJ, is the indisputable champion of the Pizza World.

BIM's

BIM’s

As you enter BIM’s, which stands for Best In Millville, you will be greeted by Joe Pierce, owner, Chef, sole employee, and story teller extraordinaire who has been tossing pizzas around Cumberland County for over 35 years. This house, turned pizza shop, is literally a one man show, and Joe Pierce has been there from the beginning, taking orders, and making pizza. Surrounded by a seemingly endless army of conveyor belt frozen pizza shops that are taking over New Jersey towns much like the outlaws did in the Wild West, Joe, like a modern day Pizza Sherriff, remains persistent and dedicated to making fresh, consistently fantastic pizza for his loyal customers on a daily basis.

Joe Pierce

Joe Pierce, Owner, Operator, Chef, and Pizza Sheriff

BIM’s is not like your ordinary pizza shop; they don’t make chicken wings, meatballs, sandwiches, or salads, hell they don’t even sell slices. What they do sell, however, is a pizza pie in several sizes that is made fresh to order, using homemade dough and sauce which is made daily on the premises. Even though Pizza is all you can get at BIM’s that does not mean you can’t customize that pizza to experience a new BIM’s masterpiece each and every time you visit. They offer the following toppings that can be added to your pie for a nominal fee; Extra Cheese, Double Thick Crust, Pepperoni, Sweet Sausage, Mushrooms, Sweet Green Peppers, Anchovies, Onions, Bacon, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomato, Garlic, and Hot Peppers.

Bim's Pizza

Customized BIM’s Pizza

The Pizza at BIM’s is so damn good that I travel two hours and thirty minutes just to eat a few slices, before heading back to North Jersey until the craving strikes again. BIM’s expertly prepared pizza has many levels of perfection that when combined create a pie that is out of this world. Like all pizzas the first level, and the canvas to this piece of artwork, is the crust. BIM’s pizza is constructed on fresh hand-made and hand-tossed dough that when cooked crisps to just the right amount of awesome. Piled on top of this righteous crust is a home-made sauce that balances between sweet and savory flawlessly, and then Joe invites not one type of cheese, but two to join the party. This combination of cheese and sauce eventually turns into a masterful blend of gooey yumminess once the oven has done its magic. The result is a pizza pie unlike any other, because all the recipes are a Pierce family secret and therefore cannot be duplicated, believe me I have tried.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Building The Perfect Pizza

If you plan on visiting BIM’s you will not only get to taste the single greatest Pizza to ever grace the inside of a Pizza Oven, you will also get to meet and perhaps even hear a story or two from Joe. Much like the small business owners of yesteryear, Joe, embraces the idea of customer service and actually enjoys what he does, including interacting with his customers. Whether the conversation is about Millville, The Phillies, The Eagles, fishing, or life in general, Joe has a way of simplifying things and imparting wisdom about virtually any topic, like a zen pizza making life Sherpa, all the while continuing to take phone orders, toss dough, make pizzas, and restock extras. Joe epitomize the ethos of what a small business owner used to be and in a world where this style of business ownership is dwindling to damn near extinction, it is great to see that some people refuse to allow it to disappear forever.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Joe Multitasking

Attempting to explain the wonderfulness of a BIM’s pizza is much like trying to describe the Mona Lisa to a blind person. A person without sight, might mistake this extraordinary painting for just another portrait of a female, just as one might look at a BIM’s pizza and merely think that it is just another mundane pie. If, however, through the miracle of science that very same blind person’s sight was somehow restored, they would easily see that it is the intricate detail that makes Mona a true work of genius. Luckily for you though, you don’t need scientific intervention to have the same realization about BIM’s pizza, you only have to taste it to see the light. I assure you that after that first bite, you will be hooked on BIM’s like The Blue Collar Foodie is addicted to Bacon.

The Perfect Pie

The Perfect Pie

There are a few things you should know before you go to BIM’s Pizzeria. As stated before this establishment is an epic one man show and the operating hours reflect that. BIM’s is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 P.M. to approximately 10 P.M. Furthermore, BIM’s is a cash only restaurant, so leave your plastic at home. Lastly BIM’s does not have tables, so in order to eat your remarkable pizza pie you must pick it up and go elsewhere or get it delivered to your house.

BIM’s motto is,” We specialize in pizza because pizza is the only thing we make,” which can be found on their menu as well as a sign that hangs in the shop. This phrase scares some people off, because they want variety but I suggest that you embrace this unique singularity. BIM’s does not have 101 different items on the menu because Joe concentrates on his one true passion, Pizza, and anything else would only distract him from creating the best Pizza Pie on the planet!

Damn That Is Pretty

Damn That Is Pretty!

Bim's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie Rocks out with Rony in Glen Rock , New Jersey

As most of you know my blog is published on the Patch.com, and since I live in Bergen County I also subscribe to most of the area’s Patch.com sites to keep up to date on the Über local news that is provided by the Patch. While I was perusing the Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch,  I noticed an article about a relatively new Hamburger shop in Glen Rock that needed some community support to get off the ground.  After reading the article, I decided it was not only my civic duty but my foodie duty to give Rony’s Rock Burger, located at 192 Rock Road, Glen Rock, NJ, a whirl and see if he was making some Blue Collar Foodie worthy Burgers.

Kat and I invited a special guest foodie with us; we will call her Ms. Pupin, to partake in Rony’s Rock Burger.  Since this was the first time that any of us had been to Rony’s Burger place, as I drove down Rock Road I asked Ms. Pupin and Kat to keep an eye out for the restaurant so we did not miss it.  Kat and Ms. Pupin failed at this game so I turned around and tried once again, this time around they spotted our destination and then the parking spot pursuit began.

As a former Glen Rockian, I know that parking on Rock Road is about as much fun as listening to Ben Stein read the phone book, but such is life and Rony’s Rock Burger cannot be blamed for the lack of parking in the down town district of Glen Rock.  Once a parking spot was procured we ventured inside Mr.  Rony Alvarado’s burger joint, and right off the bat I was impressed.  The walls are full of rock memorabilia that comes from a time when rock, well rocked.  Pictures and records of Elvis, Hendrix, Morrison, not Van but Jim, Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses, and a plethora of other Hall of Famers decorate Rony’s Rock Burger and give it the ambiance that a true burger joint should have.

Now, this is not an interior design blog, so honestly if the walls looked pretty but the food tasted like New Jersey smells, I would not be writing this blog post.  The truth is, after one bite of Rony’s Rock Burger I was transported to Paradise City via a Crystal Ship, where I was All Shook Up with Satisfaction.

The Menu at Rony’s Rock Burger reads like a who’s who list of American Rock and Roll, using the rock stars name and personality as the inspiration for each item. For Example, I ordered the Bob Marley which is described as a burger with Cajun spices, topped with grilled onions, bacon and cheddar cheese to which I also added avocado.  I, of course, opted to make it a combo and added the upgraded curly fries and a drink, for the reasonable price of $10.75.

Kat chose the Stevie, after Stevie Nicks I would presume, which is described as a burger topped with American cheese, pineapple, bacon, lettuce, tomato and Rony’s signature Terriyaki-Based Waka Sauce.  Kat also opted to make her meal a combo, and chose to upgrade her side dish to the onion rings.  Kat’s burger also set us back a sensible $10.75.  Kat also decided to add the avocado, which, she asked me to add, was freshly sliced, and just ripe enough.

Ms. Pupin went off the reservation and opted for a black board special called the Rage Against the Burger which was described as a burger topped with Bacon, crumbled Blue Cheese, and buffalo sauce.  Ms. Putin decided to try the original Rony’s fries, so her meal only came to an economical $8.75.

After ordering our food from Rony himself, who was apparently acting as owner, host, waiter, and cook, which is why I love mom and pop eateries, we took our seats and waited for our food to grace our table.  Within minutes, Rony brought our food out and I swear I heard the angelic chorus of cherubs in the distance, alright so I was hungry, sue me.  Once the food touched our lips there was a moment of silence as the flavors collided with our taste buds and then we began to discuss our orders with one another.

The Bob Marley that I ordered was fantastic, the Cajun seasoning was not just dashed on top of the burger like some other Cajun burgers that I have had in the past, it was actually mixed into the chopped meat allowing the flavor to be evenly dispersed.  The Bacon was freshly cooked and crisp, and you could easily tell was not made by Oscar Meyers.  The burger was so damn good, I did not have to put any condiments on it at all, which really says something, because I literally have an entire shelf for condiments in my refrigerator at home.  As for the curly fries, they were seasoned to perfection and not overly salty like so many of the curly fries that are served at the foodie hamburger joints that are popping up throughout New Jersey these days.

Kat’s Stevie was unlike any other burger I have ever had before.  The pineapple combined with the Bacon and the Waka Sauce, an all-purpose tropical pepper sauce native to the Philippines, made for an interesting party in my mouth.  Even though the burger was great, the real star of Kat’s meal was the onion rings that were deep fried and crispy, surrounded by just the right amount of flavorful batter.  These onion rings would make other inferior onion rings leap off the table to their own demise, due to the shame of not being a Rony’s ring.  They were so yummy; she was forced to share them with the table.

Ms. Pupin’s Rage Against the Burger was equally as tasty all thanks to what appeared to be the fresh blue cheese that overflowed from the bun.  The Buffalo sauce was not too tangy but had a slight kick which complemented the burger instead of overpowering it, which was a welcomed surprise for a sauce that tends to be a bully.  Ms. Pupin’s regular Rony fries were equally as impressive as my curly fries and if you are low on funds when you give Rony’s a whirl, I would suggest skipping the upgrade and sticking with these classically good shoe string potatoes.

While we were eating our meal, Rony himself came over to chat with us, and supply us with a free sample of Rock Sauce, which I highly recommend as a dipping sauce for your fries by the way.  He asked if we were locals and discussed his food with us, and as you can see I like to talk about food, so I was in all my glory, with a burger in one hand and a fellow foodie to converse with.  Rony explained that all his food was made fresh to order and that the meat he serves is not only homemade, like damn near everything else that he serves, but high quality as well.  While speaking to Rony, I could tell he has a passion for not only preparing the food he sells, but preparing it properly and with the best ingredients he can find.   Rony is truly a diehard foodie at heart and he happens to be serving some of the best hamburgers in the area.

So the next time you have a hankering for a hamburger, don’t go to SmashBurger, BoomBurger, or any of the other dozen or so chains that are bursting onto the foodie scene, support a local business man like Rony Alvarado, not just because you want his business to survive but because his Burgers are the real deal!

Judgment

Overall:                  4 out of 5

Taste:                     5 out of 5

Presentation:        4 out of 5

Value:                     3 out of 5