Looking for a side of rich, hearty history to accompany that steak? Then head on over to Hendrickson’s in Bayonne, a historical landmark that has the internet abuzz with reviews that claim the restaurant serves up the best burgers and steaks in town.
The former site of City Hall during the 1800s, Hendrickson’s has since been converted into a charming eatery and bar with an extensive lunch, dinner, wine, and cocktail menu that’s sure to satisfy any diner.
Once the holding area for detainees of the police department, the jail cells in Hendrickson’s basement now serve as the stockroom and refrigerator for food and beer. You won’t be served the stereotypical inmate entree of bread and water here. Customers can enjoy delicious dishes prepared with chicken, steak, seafood, and even pasta, all made to order while you wait.
“Nothing is frozen,” says Angela Capriola, owner of Hendrickson’s since 1981. “So when you order a steak, it’s cut off the loin. When you order, that’s when your food starts being prepared. You can’t get much fresher than that.”
Fresh offerings are aplenty. Cuisine ranging from American classics to Italian fare and even Mexican specialties are served in large, satisfying portions at reasonable prices. Hendrickson’s even features a children’s menu, highlighting favorites such as grilled cheese, pizza, and chicken fingers. Each item from the children’s menu is served with crispy fries, a refreshing drink, and a creamy ice cream dessert, all for $5.25 - $5.50 per order.
In addition to mouth-watering dishes, Hendrickson’s also offers a feast for the eyes with its European-style setting, complete with stained glass windows and artwork created by German artist Hans Grau.
On a recent Sunday, my guest and I made our way to Hendrickson’s for a scrumptious early dinner. We were immediately greeted by friendly, smiling faces from the staff, which added to the restaurant’s casual comfortable and warm atmosphere.
A warm welcome awaits
“People come in and say they are a stranger only once,” according to Capriola, who makes sure each diner feels at home.
Why wouldn’t she? The restaurant itself is a family affair, a business originally started by Capriola and her husband, Randy. Since his passing, Capriola has continued to maintain the high culinary standards of Hendrickson’s with the help of her two sons. One even serves as the bartender, who served my guest a frosty, ice-cold glass of Blue Moon beer – complete with an orange slice – as we headed to our table for a truly unforgettable dining experience.
Upon being seated, my guest and I were immediately served a basket of warm, fresh bread and butter by our pleasant waitress. My guest scarfed down the bread with a smile, while I opted to save my appetite for the appetizers.
In addition to the regular menu, Hendrickson’s also features daily exclusives, from which we ordered the Sunday special appetizer, chorizo and shrimp in garlic sauce ($10.95). This tasty dish featured succulent shrimp drenched in a fresh, brown sauce, with slices of spicy Spanish sausage for the perfect amount of kick to the palate. We sampled the beef tips in garlic sauce (also available in shrimp, $9.95), a starter that could be a meal in itself, with tender cuts of beef covered in a creamy, citrus-hinted garlic glaze.
Other appetizers on the menu include tasty tidbits such as potato skins, fried calamari, quesadillas, and even buffalo wings, all ranging in price from $6.95 - $10.95.
After some satisfying starters, my guest and I looked forward to dinner. Hendrickson’s menu features a wide variety of enticing meals, including seafood dishes such as the shrimp and scallops francaise ($18.95); and pasta plates like penne with vodka sauce ($11.95). Looking for something lighter? Try one of the many varieties of soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and burgers Hendrickson’s offers, all ranging in price from $2.95 - $11.95.
Intrigued by the restaurant’s signature dish, I ordered Hendrickson’s Famous Sliced Steak Sandwich and fries ($11.95) and it did not disappoint. The thick cut of steak was cooked to a perfect medium well, with a singed outer crust that ensured the meat’s juiciness inside. The steak was sliced and served over buttery toast covered in the meat’s own juices, and it was love at first bite.
My guest opted for the Chicken Della Casa ($11.95). He loved the savory, herb-infused chicken breast layered with tender eggplant, sliced tomato, and fresh mozzarella. The dish was served with al dente linguine in a delicious sherry wine sauce, making each fork-full of flavor pure bliss.
With little room in our bellies to spare, my guest and I ordered two desserts – a creamy, homemade slice of cheesecake and a decadent tartufo (velvety strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream stuffed in a dark chocolate shell and served with fluffy whipped cream). All desserts range in price from $5 - $6.
You can even cap off your meal with one of Hendrickson’s speciality cocktails – such as the espresso martini (Stoli vanilla, Kahlua, creme de cocoa, and a shot of espresso drizzled with Irish cream). Speciality cocktails start at $8.50.
Hendrickson’s opens daily for lunch, dinner, or a drink at the bar (the restaurant portion closes at about 10 p.m., while the bar can stay open up until 2 a.m., both depending on attendance). Opening hours are Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The restaurant is located at 671 Broadway in Bayonne. Call (201) 437-4955 for more information.