Waterfront Wonder


Liberty House
76 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City
The skinny: Upscale American comfort food in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

For some glam on this side of the Hudson, get a group together and meet at Liberty House, a charming and convivial waterfront spot serving up twists on comfort food classics in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park.

Husband-and-wife team Jeanne and Frank Cretella opened the restaurant in March 2002 (banquet spaces were opened in August 2001); the pair also own the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, a catering facility. The Cretellas’ connection with New York City is deep—theypreviously owned and operated the Boathouse in Central Park, American Park at the Battery, and Lundy’s Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The couple’s passion for design is reflected in the space’s warm and inviting decor, which features deep red walls accented with green, gold, and blue. Contemporary touches such as a slate-tile floor, hammered-steel bar surfaces, and comfy wooden chairs continue the modern theme. The restaurant is conducive to dining with a crowd, but smaller groups can enjoy its many private nooks.

Above, pumpkin corn pudding from the seasonal menu.

Executive chef Philip Campanella trained at the New York Restaurant School (now the Art Institute of NYC) and is at the helm of the Liberty House kitchen’s delicious contemporary fare. Campanella previously worked alongside talented chefs like Waldy Malouf (the Rainbow Room) and Larry Forgione (An American Place, Manhattan Prime, Rose Hill).

Dine in the main room or step through the French doors onto one of two terraces for a breathtaking view of the glittering New York City skyline. Nosh on appetizers like the burrata, a mascarpone- and truffle oil-filled homemade mozzarella dish served with shaved prosciutto and heirloom-tomato and red-onion salad; a lump crab cake and sesame seared tuna duo served with wakami salad, tamarind date sauce, and wasabi aioli; and a beet-and-goat cheese tower with spiced walnuts, oranges, and sherry vinaigrette.

Signature entrées include crispy calamari served with green olive and Thai chili sauces; fresh Atlantic salmon with ruby-red grapefruit, purple basil, and pink peppercorn relish; and filet mignon served with cabernet whipped potatoes. Pair these meals with side dishes, like a pan-fried polenta cake, creamy country ham grits, or green beans with toasted almonds.

This waterfront restaurant also boasts an extensive raw bar, featuring several varieties of oysters like Blue Points and Kumomotos, plus an array of clams, mussels, crawfish, lobster tails, and more. Sushi is also available every night except Tuesday.
Their wine list is lengthy and features a wide variety of bottles, starting at $30, and wines by the glass, starting at $6. There’s also a long list of cocktails to choose from, like the splurge-worthy Klondike bar martini, made with Frangelico, white and dark creme de cacao, and heavy cream.

Entertaining? The main dining room seats 115 guests, and the restaurant and lower terraces can accommodate 75 and 100, respectively. Three private halls—the Liberty Room, the Grand Ballroom, and the Gallery—can be rented for special occasions. (You can even charter a yacht through the restaurant that carries over 80 guests.) Enjoy live music year-round on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during Sunday brunch.

The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 10 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 pm; and Sunday from 4 to 9 pm. Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 3 pm, and brunch on Sunday is from 11 to 2 pm. The restaurant is closed Mondays.

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Author: Issue: Nov/Dec 2009