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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Teaneck restaurant renovates to welcome new coffeehouse and patisserie.

Fresh baked pastries, new organic house coffees, croissants and muffins, not to mention gelato-topped crepes, smoothies and milkshakes, and two types of grab-and-go savory sandwiches, are all part of Mocha Crème, a new meeting place now debuting at Mocha Bleu. The new counter-purchase offerings are perfect to sample with a friend while having morning coffee or an afternoon treat with the kids; the ambiance is as comfortable at 7:30 in the morning as it is at 10 p.m.. Mocha Crème is open six days a week and on motzei Shabbat in winter.

Priced comparably to other coffee options in the neighborhood, Mocha Crème is launching as Mocha Bleu turns 10 years old. A communal table for families, friends or small group meetings is in the new Mocha Crème area, perfect for high school students coming in for a quick gelato or sandwich. The couches and small tables just next to the coffee area are quiet in the morning and perfect for friend-meetups after carpool and business meetings, with coffee and muffins. There is ample space for children in strollers and free wifi.

With a new shiny white wood-and-chrome Frigomecccanica ‘jewelry-style’ pastry case, custom-designed in Italy and intended for everything to be seen easily from eye-level, Mocha Bleu’s owner Naftali Abenaim is bringing his most exciting dessert and coffee ideas out into the open. Temperature controlled to just the right degree, Abenaim explained that he could do more and different desserts with a higher level dessert case.

Just in time to enjoy along with the new desserts, Mocha Bleu is also debuting a line of house coffees from Jim’s Organic. While Nespresso cappuccino, espresso and other Italian coffee drinks are still available, Jim’s Organic, a local New Jersey company that sources beans from all over the world, developed a smooth blend called Papua New Guinea just for Mocha Bleu. Mocha Bleu’s new iced house coffee and decaf coffee is another blend, called Sweet Nothings. “We developed this roast with them to get it just right. It’s smoother and sweeter than your average,” Abenaim said.

Chalav yisrael Italian gelato, made once a week by an Italian chef, headlines the new menu offerings. The difference between ice cream and gelato is that gelato generally contains heavy cream rather than milk as the majority of its base, giving it a higher fat content and a more decadent, creamy taste. “It’s best to just close your eyes and not think twice,” said Abenaim, who added that sorbet and chalav yisrael soft serve ice creams will also be available for those seeking lighter options.

A multitude of gelato toppings will be available as well, and as is typical with gelato cases the offerings will vary but will begin with pistachio, mint chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, amarena (cherry), salted caramel, banana nutella, smores, and bacio (chocolate hazelnut). The first two flavors of sorbet are mango and raspberry, and the tough sorbet critics in my family were wowed by the fresh fruit bursts and tastes-like-a real-mango flavor. “There’s no syrup in there,” said Abenaim. “It’s all natural and fresh.”

Crepes too, launching on the menu this weekend, are a sure winner among Mocha Bleu’s new desserts; that delicious combination of French crepes with Italian gelato is sure to impress both kids and adults. Crepes Suzette, banana-nutella crepes, and molten chocolate are just a few of the plated desserts that will be available on the menu in the near term. Abenaim explained that a number of toppings that he has sourced, all of which are chalav yisrael, have previously not been available locally.

In addition to the flagship hazelnut-and-blue-buttercream Mocha Bleu cake, pareve strawberry shortcake, chocolate mousse domes and new oversized ‘bleu’ macaron sandwich cookies, the restaurant also has a new coffee pyramid cake on a shortbread base, and a new vanilla Napoleon that, quite simply, tastes like it’s dairy.

But Mocha Bleu’s pastry case remains pareve so that its cakes are Shabbat-ready, delicious and beautiful enough to impress anyone who opens the box. Pre-Shabbat offerings will still include Mocha Bleu’s delicious and airy water challah, and sugared and non-sugared brioche challah, and don’t miss trying the unforgettable onion rolls. “Every time I bring them to someone’s house, people ask where I got them. From here of course,” Abenaim joked, noting that the onion rolls, a pillowy water challah base with a topping of chopped, sauteed onions and poppy seeds, are one of Teaneck’s best kept secrets. Fresh croissants, almond horns, rugelach, muffins and classic baguettes are also available daily.

Mocha Bleu is located at 1399 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck and serves chalav yisrael, pas yisrael desserts as well as pareve pastries and breads. There’s no extra charge for use of Mocha Bleu’s newly redecorated Marrakesh-style party room, which provides party packages for sheva brachot, brittim, anniversaries and other small events for up to 50 people, for $35 a person (minimum 30 people). The entire restaurant can also be rented for bar or bat mitzvot. Call 201-837-2538.

By Elizabeth Kratz