James Beard award-winner-David Burke has expanded restaurant empire this year, opening David Burke at Orange Lawn in South Orange and VENTANAS Restaurant & Lounge, a modern American-Asian-Cuban restaurant and lounge in Fort Lee.
Burke, who serves as culinary director, partnered with restaurateur Alexander Duran of West New York’s Son Cubano, to bring the stunning $3 million space to life in June. The 7,000-square-foot restaurant, where Executive Chef Andrew Riccatelli works his magic, features expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, a nod to its name (Ventanas translates to windows in Spanish), two luxurious dining rooms, a tapas lounge, and a massive oval bar at the center of it all.
Those striking windows overlook an inviting terrace, ideal for brunch or cocktails, that sits amid a two-acre park located behind the building. Nestled between skyscrapers in the shadows of the George Washington Bridge, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a cool and stylish oasis where the food is as delightful and intriguing as the atmosphere.
When NJNext.com stopped by for Sunday brunch, we were immediately impressed by the swanky, upscale vibe and friendly staff. Our lone troublespot: Everything on the menu sounded so tempting it seemed impossible to make a choice.
Fortunately, our knowledgeable server was ready and able to help. Our appetizer — Joey Bag O’ Donuts — arrived fresh out of the fryer, in its own paper bag, which was filled to the brim. While you could happily devour these confections on their own, you’re encouraged to infuse or simply adorn them with chocolate sauce, Boston creme and berry jam. If you’re a fan of zeppoli, prepare to fall in love with these.
Burke’s beloved Clothesline Bacon is on the menu and proved to be a popular pick among our fellow diners as was the Cocktail-Style Shrimp Ceviche. While we don’t opt for cocktails, the ones that passed by our table were colorful, eye-catching, and infinitely Instagram-able as patrons posed with their Bellinis and Bloody Marys before enjoying them.
Burke is renowned for his artful and intriguing presentations, and the dishes and drinks at Ventanas certainly didn’t disappoint. For our entrees, we settled on Avocado Toast, served with wild mushrooms, cherry tomato, crispy quinoa, and farm-fresh eggs, which was every bit as flavorful and filing as our server promised, and the Grilled Chicken Club, which surpassed our expectations with its thick slab of maple pepper bacon, asparagus, avocado mousse.
Other tempting comfort foods benefitting from the chefs’ fanciful reimagining include the Fried Chicken and Waffles and Pancakes.
While we were too full to savor dessert, we’ll definitely be back and will save room to sample the George Washington Chocolate Bridge, which we heard is truly a work of art.
Appealing to the late-night crowd, Ventanas chill weekend brunch vibe gives way to a lively dining and dancing scene. On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant and lounge features music and entertainment, including live bands and DJs so guests can dine, dance and indulge.
If you’re looking to take your weekend brunch to the next level, visit Ventanas.
Ventanas is located at 200 Park Avenue in Fort Lee. For more information, visit Ventanas’ website or call +1 201.583.4777.