Stepping into a bar, one might expect to see a few sloppy burgers with previously frozen french fries on the side, accompanied by loud music and a bartender that’s just barely attentive enough to catch your order. PJ Ryan’s Squared is simply the opposite—a step above what we have been accustomed to, introducing new seasonal pub fare using responsibly-sourced ingredients.
Chef Angelo Panageas and the staff of PJ Ryan’s new location, just outside of the Journal Square PATH station, are on a mission to change the way we perceive the “average” bar experience. Panageas, a lifelong Jersey City resident, came up through the ranks of Manhattan kitchens mentored by Top Chef Masters’ alum and three-star Michelin trained Chef Herb Wilson. As Delmonico’s former chef de cuisine and more recently NYY Steak’s executive chef, it’s clear that Panageas has plenty of experience to work with.
When asked about the popularity of the new location, Panageas was quick to assure that “the response of the community has been extremely positive since we’ve arrived. We expect that as families return from vacation, kids go back to school, and football season kicks back up, we’ll see even more of the neighborhood in here.”
Owner Mike Ryan also noted that that it was Port Authority that first approached him about opening in Journal Square. “At first I was a bit hesitant, as Journal Square didn’t necessarily make sense for PJ Ryan’s Squared,” he explained. “But with all the new residential towers opening nearby, it quickly became evident that this was a perfect location for us.”
Chef Panageas is eager to introduce his highly anticipated seasonal menu to both PJ Ryan locations, coming to the Downtown location in early September before finally arriving to Journal Square a bit later in the month. The menu, which will evolve over time, has nothing short of mouth-watering options for the chilled months, featuring dishes the likes of a chicken fried rabbit with celery and apples, with a serving of blue cheese and chili oil or a braised pork belly on ciabatta with a variety of toppings normally reserved for midtown masters. As well, the potted organic chicken liver accompanied by soft herbed butter and fig jam with saltines, or crispy potatoes and smoked paprika seasoned chorizo, goat cheese, paired with a perfectly fried sunny-side-up egg both come highly recommended to anyone looking for a change from the usual “burger and fries.” Even if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, rest assured that Panageas’ beef is locally sourced with the fries cut fresh daily from potatoes purchased at the farmer’s market just around the corner.
If the new menu isn’t enough to form a line around the corner, owner Mike Ryan has decided to spice up the deal a bit. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, PJ Ryan’s Squared will play host to a different local artist such as the blood-pumping Poor Man’s Opera (9/2), funky-rock band Pepperwine (9/3), blues rockin’ Joe Taino (9/9), or Bazooka Joe and the Bubble Gum Machine (9/16) covering rock and pop hits from decades past. They’ll regularly be holding raffles for New York Red Bull tickets all throughout the season, ensuring plenty of opportunities to sit pitch-side as record-setting forward Bradley Wright-Phillips leads the Red Bulls to a potential MLS Cup.
From Chef Panageas’ innovative seasonal menus to their popular music nights, coupled with their 23 televisions (perfect for catching a Jets/Giants game or any number of Premier League matches), there’s no doubt that the restaurant will quickly become a “must-try” for anyone in the neighborhood. As they don’t take reservations, it’s highly recommended you get in early on more popular evenings, guaranteeing a prime seat for the show or game.
PJ Ryan’s Squared is located at 4 Path Plaza in Jersey City, directly outside of the PATH station. For more information concerning events and scheduling, the restaurant can be reached at (201) 222-1600.