Gothamist serves up a guide to Portuguese cuisine in the Ironbound

How To Devour Newark’s Vibrant Portuguese Food Scene

Gothamist provides a nice overview of how to enjoy Portuguese food and culture in the Ironbound. I’ve been to all of their recommendations—while none of them are off the beaten trail, they’re all a great introductory walking tour of the neighborhood. 

If you don’t have the time or money to cross the Atlantic to visit Portugal, then you can just traverse over another body of water (the Hudson) and find some great authentic food in New Jersey. If you take the PATH or NJ Transit into Newark—just a 30 minute ride when the trains operate as scheduled—you can explore Portuguese food and get a genuine sense of the culture.

Chef David Santos is one person who’d like to see Portuguese food get the credit it deserves. Most recently of the now-closed favorite Louro and currently heading up a series of pop-ups, the New Jersey-born chef grew up in the town of Perth Amboy, where many Portuguese immigrants have settled. He spent his youth surrounded by Portuguese food, from baking bread at home to butchering rabbits and pigs. He seemed the perfect companion to give us a tour of Newark’s historic Ironbound neighborhood, home to many Portuguese residents since the 1960’s.

Most of the Portuguese restaurants and shops are clustered around Ferry Street, which is an easy, direct walk from Newark-Penn Station.

Former Newark mayor Cory Booker publishes his first book

Booker explains mistakes he made running Newark, other lessons he has learned

The now-NJ state senator is releasing a book that seems to hint at his future aspirations. 

Following a trend set by many presidential candidates, Booker’s writings were released in the midst of a campaign. Booker, however, is not running for president, though he has been mentioned as a potential running mate for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose candidacy he has endorsed.

“I didn’t write this to speak towards an election,” Booker said in an interview to discuss the book. “I wrote this to talk about us as a country. The best of our culture has been seen when we as a nation recognize that we have more in common than divides us and do the very difficult work of reaching out, going beyond our comfort zone to work with other people.”

Booker’s book will be available in numerous formats on Amazon (including audiobook narrated by the senator) on Feb 16. 

Whatever happened to last year’s $1,000 Valentine’s Day lots?

After Setbacks, Newark Alters a Program to Encourage Home Building

This is what we came here for, to build a better life,” Gilbert Gomez said, standing amid the discarded cups from Popeyes, plastic shopping bags and concrete chunks that littered the street.

Fascinating piece on the challenges of winning one of last year’s Valentine’s Day lots that the city was selling for $1,000.

The new plan is intended to remove obstacles that have slowed the process, including designing a home, getting permits or, most challenging of all, finding a bank willing to provide not just a mortgage but a construction loan in one of the most depressed real estate markets in the country.

Construction loans seem to be one of the biggest deterrents—banks are wary about financing homes in some of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in the city. 

Shaq back in Newark to announce new jobs initiative

Shaq back in Newark to announce new jobs initiative

Interesting tie-in with O’Neal’s One Rector Street building project. (A project which has been fraught with delays since its announcement in 2013.)

Former professional basketball player and Newark native Shaquille O’Neal was back in town Tuesday to announce the creation of IMPACT Newark, a program designed to help minorities, women and veterans secure union construction jobs for projects in the city.

The hope is that program participants will begin to work on Boraie Development’s $65 million One Rector Street project, which O’Neal is backing.

The project calls for a 23-story, 169-unit residential tower featuring ground-floor retail space that officials say will be Newark’s first high-rise in over a half-century.

“I was born and raised in Newark,” O’Neal said Tuesday at news conference at City Hall. “In some ways, I never left Newark. This project is a symbol of my love of the city that shaped who I am today.”

NorthJersey.com writes AirTrain’s obituary

Newark AirTrain’s demise comes as no surprise

North Jersey writes a detailed obituary for the notoriously unreliable AirTrain—if a bit premature. While acknowledging the broken system fraught with delays and mechanical failures, the Port Authority is planning to keep the service running until 2022, when it will be replaced with a (hopefully) more robust solution.

When the AirTrain monorail opened at Newark International Airport in 1996, it was viewed as an engineering marvel. Finally, the airport’s old fleet of bouncy, slow, diesel-fuming jitney buses had been replaced by a sleek train passing silently overhead.

But AirTrain Newark was never reliable. And that should have come as no surprise to the people responsible for bringing it to the airport. They knew because they were told by the man who sold it to them.

“It was a system that had not been run previously in the snow,” said Paul H. Wyss, now 80 and retired for 20 years. He conceived the project in the early 1990s when he was chief of American operations for Von Roll Transport. “Everybody knew ahead of time that there would be issues with snow and snow removal,” he said.

That proved to be an understatement. Even before AirTrain was finished, the Port Authority had serious problems clearing snow and ice, which delayed the monorail’s opening. Those issues — plus a half-dozen more — grew worse over the next two decades.

(Photo credit: Port Authority)

Sale of Ironbound lot could pave way for new era in iconic Newark neighborhood

Sale of Ironbound lot could pave way for new era in iconic Newark neighborhood

Exciting development, and fun to imagine what could go here.

The owners of the famed Iberia restaurant placed the 5.2-acre site on the open market earlier this month, and are courting developers who may see it as a prime parcel for a high-rise office or residential tower.

Frank Giantomasi, a real estate attorney with Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi who is representing the owners in the potential sale, said the site – with frontage on major thoroughfares Market Street and Ferry Street – could be key in the city’s plans to attract new professionals seeking both easy access to Newark Penn Station and amenities including restaurants, shopping and nightlife.

The Iberia property is currently home to both the restaurant and two storage facilities, but is mostly occupied by blacktop parking spaces, which city officials have often lamented as a deterrent to major development as they look to create a transit-oriented district similar to what has sprung up around the PATH station in Harrison.