The taste of South America is only minutes away at Ceviche's in Jersey City. This elegant new restaurant on Central Avenue offers fresh fish, homemade soups, and grilled meats that are prepared to perfection by chef and part owner German Caceres.
The orange walls, dark blue table cloths and brick wall make you feel like you are in an exotic location, especially with the Latin music playing in the background. The tables are spaced away from each other to give the diners a private dining experience. At night, the overhead lights are dimmed and candles are lit on every table. It is an excellent venue for a date. The room can also be reserved for private parties and arranged to accommodate large groups.
What is Ceviche?
Ceviche is art of cooking the seafood in lime juice, cilantro, and spices. The standard recipe calls for your choice of fresh seafood that you marinate in lime juice and spices until the fish turns white. Robert Salguerno, the manager and owner, said that they added the fresh boiled corn and sweet potato to their version of the classic.
The restaurant makes four different kinds of the signature dish, all prepared to order. The fish is served whole, not diced or buried in cilantro. "You want to be able to see the fish," said Robert Salguerno. "And feel the texture of the shrimp."
We started off with fresh hot bread that is served to all the tables. We ordered the Mixto Ceviche, which is mixed seafood marinated in the fresh lime juice and spices. The combination of citrus and spice was perfectly balanced and didn't hide the natural flavor of the fish. Chef German Caceres said that Ceviche is considered a cure for a hangover and an aphrodisiac.
Next we tried the Papa a la Huancaina, which is boiled potato served with olives and hard cooked egg. The olives were artistically placed in the middle of the potato that was first covered with the light yellow sauce. The Huancaina sauce is made with milk, cheese and spices. It adds spice to the normally mild flavor of the potato.
Then we had the Camaron Amarillo, which is grilled shrimp over lentils and spinach. The shrimp was tender and juicy. The lentils and spinach, provided an interesting combination of flavors and textures, and was slightly spicy. There are five large shrimp with each portion, and it is big enough to share.
Aguadito de Pollo, is the spicy chicken soup served with corn, peppers and cilantro. The soup was delicious. The corn and the rice add texture to the broth that needs no extra seasoning.
For dinner we had the pan seared Chilean Sea Bass, served over rice. The fish is delicate and flaky and is excellent over the coconut banana rice. Banana might seem like an odd flavor to add with the fish, but the sweet fruit adds dimension to the layers of flavor this dish provides. This dish also was made to order and looked too pretty to eat. Chef German Caceres tried different fruit and fish combinations over the years until he decided on the bass and banana blend. "Everybody has to eat," said Caceres, "so why not make it fun?"
The extensive menu has something for every palate. Appetizers include: a meat turnover filled with olives, raisins, and egg ($5); grilled beef skewers with roasted garlic and potato ($7); Peruvian style tamale stuffed with pork, egg, olives and peanuts ($8); sautéed shrimp in garlic sauce over toasted bread ($12). They offer mixed green salad ($6) or a spinach salad ($7). Soups include: pumpkin soup with ginger cream ($6); Chilean chicken soup with potatoes and corn ($6); bisque style shrimp soup ($9); seafood stew in a tomato fish broth ($10). Grilled dishes include: half rotisserie chicken ($10); chicken breast marinated in chimichurri ($10); breaded chicken breast ($10); grilled pork chop in adobo ($12); marinated skirt steak ($17); Latin American mixed grill of churrasco, flank steak, short rib, pork chop and chicken breast served with grilled bread ($30). All of the entrees are served with your choice of rice, crispy fries or salad. Peruvian dishes include: sautéed chicken, beef, or seafood served with rice ($10-$14), pork served with fried sweet potatoes ($10). Chef's specials include: salmon filet served with new potatoes and string beans ($14); lobster tail served with spinach mashed potatoes ($22); grilled filet mignon served with potatoes and sautéed mushrooms ($22); broiled lobster tail and grilled filet mignon ($28); seven course tasting menu ($65). The tasting menu is available Monday through Thursday. Chef German Caceres will visit the table when you order this to find out the likes and dislikes of each person.
For dessert, we finished up with the toasted coconut flan in a caramel sauce, which my companion described as the best she's ever tasted. Other desserts include: rice pudding, crème brule, apple crepe tart, and chocolate cake with strawberry cream, all for ($5). The restaurant is smoke free, but there are comfortable benches provided if you want to indulge. They offer specialty coffees, soda, shakes, or bottled water. It is BYOB and there are liquor stores within walking distance. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 12 to 10 p.m. weekdays, and stays open until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended for large parties and on the weekend.
Ceviche's is located at 456 Central Avenue, in Jersey City Heights. Call (201) 420-0101 for more information. Major Credit cards accepted, except for American Express.