Gringo’s Basic Food recently opened its doors in North Bergen, offering residents basic home cooked meals. The Gringo’s owner and chef Richard Warnock prepares and cooks everything on the premises, giving customers an appreciation of what fresh, wholesome food tastes like. Open for lunch or dinner, the food can be ordered for take-out or delivery or eaten in the restaurant.
From New York to North Bergen
Chef Warnock brings his vast experience and love of cooking back home to Hudson County, where he was born and raised. Before starting this venture, Warnock honed his skills at two well-known spots in Manhattan, The Coffee Shop and Luna Park. He also worked locally at The Madison in Hoboken and The Iron Monkey in Jersey City. Warnock philosophy is simple: fresh ingredients and basic food like meat, chicken, or fish, when prepared with care, can satisfy anyone.
The place has a cozy feel to it, with the kitchen partially exposed to the diners who are tucked into the light blue space.
The space for eat-in is limited, but much has been done to make it inviting and comfortable like the restful shades of blue on the tables and on the decorative vases that draw the eye up. On the night we were there, upbeat jazz and Frank Sinatra tunes were playing, which added to the ambiance.
Salads and starters
We started with the mesclun salad with goat cheese, which is a signature dish.
The mixed greens and sliced tomatoes were lightly dressed in balsamic vinaigrette. It was topped with two lightly breaded and fried goat cheese patties. The warm cheese had a slightly sharp taste that balanced the vinaigrette. Next, we tried the crab cake, which was on special that night. The crab was a generous portion – a large stacked cake that was loaded with flavor. The crab was moist and delicately seasoned and came with tasty tartar sauce that was made with capers.
Other salads include: classic Caesar (Romaine lettuce, croutons, shaved parm.); and the sesame chicken salad (sesame chicken, bok choy, spinach, crispy wonton).
Salads are priced from $6 to $8.50.
For dinner we chose the “basic meatloaf” and the “basic shrimp” meal. Every meal comes with a choice of a side that includes: mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, French green beans, yucca con ajo, roasted beets and carrots, summer squash, creamed spinach, sliced tomatoes and basil, sautéed spinach, and rice & beans.
The meatloaf was prepared with ground beef, onions, and special seasoning that gave it a rich taste. Those with a hearty appetite will want to try this delicious dish. We had it with the fabulous mashed potatoes that are buttery and fluffy.
Next we had the shrimp, which were lightly sautéed in a light sauce.
My companion loved the shrimp that was infused with the citrus garlic sauce. Fish lovers won’t want to pass this up.
Then we tried the “basic veggie plate,” which is a dish of three sides. We had the roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach, and roasted beets with carrots. The potatoes were quartered and lightly basted with butter. They had a nice texture from the slightly crispy outside.
We loved the beets and carrots, which had a rich flavor from the oven roasting. Chef Warnock has a deft hand with seasoning, giving each dish the perfect amount of spice and sauce. Other choices include: skirt steak, wild salmon, and roasted chicken. All of the basic meals are a bargain at $9.50.
You’ll probably be full after finishing the hearty fare, but save some room for the dessert. Even the desserts are made on the premises and did not disappoint. We tried the apple pie and brownie.
The apple pie was served warm and had a thin, buttery crust. It was topped with real whipped cream. It was terrific! The brownie had a rich chocolate flavor and a dense texture. It too was topped with the cream and sliced strawberries. This is a true chocolate lover’s delight.
Coffee, tea, espresso, and soft drinks are available.
The restaurant is BYOB, and will gladly bring glasses for beer or wine. (There is a liquor store one block away.) They are open from Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In December, they plan to open for brunch on Sundays and in the spring; they will be offering a full-service catering menu.
The restaurant does not accept credit cards, it is cash only. Walk-ins welcome.
Gringo’s Basic Food is located at 7626 Broadway (corner of 77th St.) in North Bergen. For more information, call (201) 869-0600 or visit: www.gringosbasicfood.com.