Driving north on River Road from Hoboken, you’re drawn to the large, aqueous neon sign, calling to mind the ocean and all the delectable seafood specialties this Hudson River gem has to offer.
Right on the water in North Bergen, the Waterside has valet parking and you feel the upscale ambience the minute you walk in. The décor is sleek and modern, and from most of the tables are sweeping views of New York City. It’s mesmerizing watching the city at night and the boats with their colorful lights moving slowly through the water.
But seafood is just one of its many offerings. An extensive menu features an array of appetizers, salads, pastas, meats, side dishes, and desserts. The first thing to appear is a small serving of fresh homemade hummus instead of butter, which comes with a basket of warm bread. You get a choice of tap or sparking water, and we ordered a Pinot Grigio and a Heineken. Jose, our waiter, suggested we start with the charred octopus & calamari salad, and it was a great suggestion. Served with peppers, onions, dill, lemon juice, and olive oil, it had an incredibly fresh, clean taste without being bland—a perfect portion size for splitting and not too filling. The Waterside is also noted for its raw bar.
Marcos came out from the kitchen to tell us about the specials, which included three whole-fish entrees. I chose the blackened sea bass. The seasoning was just enough to enliven this light, flaky white fish, and there was plenty to take home. The lemons that come with the fish dishes are wrapped in mesh, so there will be no little seeds when you squeeze the juice onto your fish. A classy touch! It came with a side of broccoli rabe. Sometimes broccoli rabe can be too bitter, but not at the Waterside, and it had just the right amount of garlic.
Hudson Reprter Art Director Jennifer Martiak went for the surf and turf—fillet mignon with lobster tails, served with mashed potato and grilled asparagus. She pronounced all of it tender and flavorful, noting that even the ends of the asparagus were delicate and easy to eat.
Before dessert we were presented with an assortment of Tavalon teas in a beautiful box. We didn’t opt for the tea but it was fun to look at all the selections. Clean silverware arrives between each course. Dessert presented a tough choice: the warm apple crisp or a truly gigantic slice of chocolate cake. We went for the cake with almond cream, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream.
The Waterside is a great place for a reception, party, romantic dinner, business lunch, or just a terrific meal with friends or family. The acoustics allow for easy conversation. Don’t forget to keep the Waterside in mind when you’re recommending restaurants to your friends across the river. They will love looking at their home town from this spectacular vantage point.—Kate Rounds
Waterside Restaurant and Catering is located at 7800 B River Rd., North Bergen.