Looking around the room at Taverna Veranda, you’ll see sculptural planters hanging from the ceiling, magenta bougainvillea growing up the walls, plenty of occupied tables and unparalleled views of the New York City skyline. This is the kind of vibe you get when stepping inside this newly opened Mediterranean restaurant in Edgewater, NJ. (Only locals will know this was formerly a Chase bank.) Even on a weeknight, it was clear to me that this is one of NJ’s newest dining destinations.
Taverna Veranda Opens in Edgewater, NJ
Taverna Veranda, which officially opened its doors in December 2021, comes from tri state area restaurateurs Constantine Youssis, Moutaz Ali and Aldo Moe. The 3,000-square-foot eatery offers both indoor and outdoor dining—the latter of which features a 48-person patio overlooking the Hudson River.
Here, they aim to dazzle locals with a contemporary twist on Mediterranean comfort food and a slightly upscale environment. White-washed walls, polished concrete floors and reclaimed wood combine to create a cool, high-energy atmosphere. Executive Chef Nestor Moina shares his refined vision to the dishes his counterparts grew up eating. The chef is an Ecuadorian native and hospitality veteran who’s worked alongside both Youssis and Ali.
Although Taverna Veranda has all the tenets of a trendy newcomer, its menu certainly did not disappoint.
If you’re craving something light to snack on, order from the Dips section. You can expect common offerings such as hummus and tzatziki to spicy feta and fava. The Mezze menu presents more alternatives for appetizers—kefte, dolma, falafel and spinach pie. On the innovative side, Chef Moina is serving up lobster gyros and harissa chicken wings.
Some standouts from our visit were the stuffed peppers with spiced rice and red pepper aioli and the saganaki, or pan-fried cheese. If you’ve never tried it, picture the perfect corner piece of a Detroit-style pizza where the cheese has formed a brown, crispy crust.
I’m a sucker for a Greek salad and this one came to the table as a mountainous display with the help of juicy, perfectly dressed tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onion and feta. Since we are in New Jersey, diners will also find a burrata salad on the menu. I’ll be returning for the roasted beets with arugula, candied pecans, mint and yogurt sauce.
Grilled & Mains
To make your meal a feast, we highly recommend ordering from Taverna Veranda’s grilled offerings—all of which are definitely sharable. Both the octopus and lamb chops were charred and tender as ever, expertly seasoned and just about as perfect as you’d expect. The latter comes served over roasted potatoes in a half or whole-rack offering while the octopus is topped with diced roasted peppers, capers and onions with simple lemon and olive oil. I know for a fact that everyone was ordering the octopus.
Those simple comforts are what Taverna Veranda does best, including the moussaka which can be found amongst the restaurant’s other mains. It’s hard to not be instantly reminded of Greece as your fork sinks into layers of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoey-cinnamony beef, bechamel and potatoes.
Even though desserts are competing with savory dishes, the artfully constructed lavender mousse satisfies. Texturally, it’s silky-smooth and rich without being heavy. In terms of taste, it’s floral but not overpowering. There’s also baklava on the menu or a “kormo” brownie made with ground pecans and served with pistachio ice cream.
A perfect pairing for any of these desserts would be Taverna Veranda’s spin on an espresso martini called Life Is Too Short for Bad Coffee. This cocktail is made with Lobo Reposado, Cantera Negra and espresso.
While traditional enough to please Greek purists, oddly enough, anyone in the North Jersey area will find that the food and vibes here are akin to what you’d find in a sceney, semi-upscale Manhattan restaurant. So what were a few of the greatest hits that make Taverna Veranda worthwhile? We definitely wouldn’t skip the uber tender grilled octopus, charred lamb chops or the cheesy, crispy saganaki.