BLOOMFIELD, NJ – For the past few years, local news sites have been abuzz about the Bloomfield Center Renaissance: a collection of old buildings adjacent to the Bloomfield Train Station were demolished and a new mixed residential/retail complex is slowly welcoming new tenants. With camera in hand I had to see what the fuss was about and discovered a foodie wonderland that apparently has slipped under the radar of pretty much everyone with an opinion about Bloomfield.
While taking note of Taste It Again Jamaican Restaurant and Senorita’s Mexican Grill I spotted Anthony’s Cheesecake on Washington St. Anthony’s Cheesecake is real! This legendary baker is spoken of quietly among the Montclair Culinary Elite who may or may not have a reputation of passing off catered food as their own. (It’s one of the worst kept secrets in town!)
Like pretty much everyone in the area I have had Anthony’s Cheesecake at countless parties, church socials, and fundraisers galore, but I hadn’t been there never been there until curiosity got the best of me. Before stumbling upon Anthony’s, I imagined a commercial kitchen in a business district that sends out cheesecake to the adoring public. (Think Willie Wonka with cheesecake instead of candy, and without the Oompah Loompahs) Instead I found a charming café, a huge kitchen, and a menu that consisted of so much more than just cheesecake!
My timing could not have been more perfect, I arrived in the late morning and was in time to have breakfast and see the start of lunch. To start the day Anthony’s serves up traditional breakfast faire like Bacon, Egg, and Spinach Melt on Flatbread or how about a breakfast burrito with your choice of breakfast meat. There are bagels, French toast, and a breakfast quinoa cup made to order (call in advance so you don’t have to wait). I opted for the Belgian Waffles with Cookie Butter. Toasted Belgian Waffles with a thin layer of delicious cookie butter, they then add fresh strawberries and bananas with warm maple syrup. (No further discussion is needed, just check out the picture). Being quite particular about coffee I was pleased to see Kobrick’s Coffee on the menu.
Lunch preparation was underway when I finished so I had to see what Anthony Lauro and his business partner Phil Byrne were working on in the kitchen. Everything is made the day its served, or in the case of some baked or cold items the afternoon before. The lunch menu changes greatly everyday depending on season, customer interest, and inspiration of the chefs. Recent featured items include pulled pork burritos, a buttermilk chicken and waffle sandwich, portabella & spinach fajita, and lasagna Bolognese. There are some items that are always there for lunch, Anthony explained that having some items always available makes it easier for people who call quickly and just want to order their favorite.
Lauro embraces technology. Since the menu at Anthony’s changes frequently, the website AnthonysCheesecake.com is updated each afternoon to reflect the next day’s offerings. Some days there will be major changes, others only a special or two will change. The digital menu even appears above the ordering counter so patrons can see exactly what’s special each day. Think of it as a 21st Century version of the diner chalkboard.
And that brings us to the cheesecake. Like me you’ll have to wait until the weather cools to dig into Sweet Potato Cheesecake: Fresh baked sweet potatoes with nutmeg and other spices blended throughout the classic cheesecake batter. In the meantime favorites include Brownie Explosion which features a brownie crust and bits of brownie throughout the cheesecake; Caramel Apple and Classic New York Cheesecake. There are all manner of variations available featuring various fruits as well as Italian Style cakes made with Ricotta. Anthony’s Red Velvet and Carrot Cake are top drawer as well! To see the full menu check the website.
Here’s a cool trick, to make sure the variety of cake you want is available for your event call 2 days in advance and pay via credit card. Since parking is tight at times call Anthony’s with your mobile phone as you pull onto Washington Street, there is a loading zone right in front of the shop and they can bring your cheesecake right to the car. This makes quick pickups really easy.
In the near future the block immediately across the street will change dramatically. The parking deck is done and the mixed residential/retail complex is slowly being occupied. Lauro and Byrne, and many in the business community in that end of town are looking forward to the completion of the project as it will bring many new customers to the area. But until that happens Anthony’s Cheesecake will be our little secret.
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Anthony’s Cheesecake will be participating in Bloomfield Restaurant Week 2015. Restaurant Week is August 1 to August 10 2015. Participating Restaurants will offer special prix Fixe menus for both lunch and dinner giving everyone the chance to experience the diversity of Bloomfield’s culinary scene. For full details visit the Bloomfield Restaurant Week website. Also be sure to like Bloomfield Restaurant Week on Facebook. BlackTieAndFlipFlops is proud to be a sponsor of Bloomfield Restaurant Week.
John Lee is Black Tie and Flip Flops’ Raconteur-In-Chief: the World of food is his playground ~ the whole world! Having a Navy Dad gave John the passion to discover the world. Whether in one of Mr. Boeing’s flying machines, as an armchair traveler with a great book, or a plate beaming with the exotic flavors and fragrances, his day is all about discovering the world and sharing the stories with everyone he meets.
John cut his teeth in commercial kitchens starting in high school and continued into his undergrad years, then the media bug bit. After University he spent time at the Washington Post Company before jumping on the first internet wave in the 1990’s at some of the major players of the era. John also established himself as a culinary instructor where his style of cooking was first called “Comfort Food Remixed.” Don’t get him started on Disney Dining, but yes, he tried “the grey stuff” and it is delicious. John jokes that he’s staying in NJ because he didn’t have enough miles to trade in for a return ticket home to San Diego, but we think he likes it here.