Monsey Kosher Restaurant Review:
I have been living in Monsey since March, and since then I have had the opportunity to eat in many of the kosher eateries located in the Monsey area. I haven’t eaten in them all, sometimes due to the inability to get served based on my lack of rudeness and Yiddish skills, but I have eaten in many of them, at different times, so I hope you enjoy the reviews- these reviews are my personal opinions and are not all encompassing, and if you want more information about the restaurants, you can google them- because I am not providing free advertising here.
There is a Shellis and a Shellis Too, I have no idea why it isn’t called Shellis Two, but it may have something to do with the poor English skills of many of Monsey’s inhabitants. Whatever the reason may be, I was drawn to Shellis Too because it is one of the only moderately prices eateries close to my office. So for many days in a row you can find me ordering pizza and calzones from Shellis Too.
Shellis Too is also famous for being Monsey’s best Saturday night hangout, in fact one of my cousins, when learning I ate there very often urged me not to take part in the pritzusdicke activities that go on there. I tried to assure him that during the day the only pritzus that goes on there are the few sheitle hookers that eat sushi for lunch and besides they are married. It does happen to be that on Saturday nights it becomes a bustling hangout with summer lines stretching out the door and a bunch of yeshiva rebel types smoking cigarettes out front, but pritzus, unfortunately is not at all time high in these parts because its usually a sausage fest, I guess the more girls then guys factor doesn’t start until after they frum out and start dating for marriage.
So Shellis Too is definitely the nicest pizza store in Monsey, and like all Monsey establishments it has a sushi bar. For some reason, oh I know the reason, all kosher restaurants whether they be Italian or old style deli have decided to sell sushi within the past 10 years or so. The sushi is fine, but I am not going to a pizza store to spend $15, I am here to eat food of the bread and cheese variety.
The problem with Shellis Too and it persists throughout Monsey is that their pizza taste has a lack of uniformity, meaning their quality control is zero, you never know what the pizza is going to taste like. It could be thin and crunchy or thick and doughy, that’s what sucks about pizza in Monsey. I was there one Saturday night and the pizza was super thick and doughy, but during the day it ranges between all styles of pizza taste. At least the pizza is under $3 a slice, although the vegetable pizza is the biggest rip off in the place, a plain slice is $2.50 but if you deposit 5 pieces of mushrooms on it, it goes up to $4- that is chutzpah if you ask me. The only vegetable that is somewhat worth it, is eggplant because its baked and its meaty- but at Shellis Too the eggplant pizza never tastes good.
I personally love their calzones and cheese pretzels. The calzones are well worth the five bucks, mainly because it’s the only pizza store in Monsey that does not add cream cheese to their calzones- which in my view is disgusting, if I wanted cream cheese I’ll go to the bagel store. The cheese pretzels on the other hand are very good- but its gambling because the dough to cheese ratio is sometimes very high and therefore you are paying five bucks for bread with cheese sprinklings. If you aren’t the paycheck to paycheck variety then get yourself a cheese pretzel and enjoy.
The ambiance is nice, but they make you give a tip if you sit down because they then serve it to you, I hate that, but I am always taking out anyway. Also the parking is horrible and it lets you witness how rude the wives of hockers who drive big SUV’s can really be. They love to park in front and block everyone else from driving around the one way roundabout.
The Purple Pear:
The Purple Pear is probably Monsey’s most popular restaurant due to several factors. Its good food, they have sushi and salads for all the women who think a salad drenched in Cesar dressing is better then a tuna sandwich, they have ample parking, it draws on the trendy appeal, their food looks amazing and the people serving you your food are hot teenage girls who usually dress too tight- but I think that’s a marketing tool.
I rarely eat in Purple Pear unless someone treats; I have taken several dates there before I moved to Monsey and every time I was actually disappointed. You see I find that their food looks much better then in tastes, and I am usually looking at everyone else’s food wishing I had their plate. It just so happens to be that the Purple Pear provides some of the best people watching in Monsey, besides for the intersections of Route 306 and Maple, and of course the menu is appealing, so appealing that regardless of how dissatisfied I have always been with the food- I am always drawn back for another try.
I do like their French Onion soup in a bread bowl, but $7.95 makes it a treat and not an easy justification. I also think they make a great Greek Salad, but once again $11.95 for something I can make in 3 minutes for a quarter of the price just doesn’t seem worthwhile. The Eggplant parm Panini was quite good and moderately priced, but their eggplant parm as a meal just doesn’t cut it. I have had their teriyaki salmon and I can do way better.
The ambiance would be good, but its just too crowded most of the time, I do like their choice of furniture and the cake display always looks good enough to kill. Service isn’t bad, but I have found that service in Monsey isn’t bad in most places, that also means it isn’t great. It appears that people in Monsey care little about service, in fact the places I have been in Monsey with good service had non-Jewish employees serving you the food. You know it’s a frum owned and operated establishment when they serve two people their main courses at different times.
With this one I may be a little biased because the only time I ate there I was treated to a huge meal by a cycling buddy of mine who was in town for business, and he felt guilty about staying in my house every time he came up. I took him up on the food offer. This place is pricey and since its pricey I would expect a little more of a hidden kitchen, rather then a bar where the server picks up your food and brings it to your table. But what do I know, the food was very good. The service was as I said before not bad, I even think the waitress was hitting on me, at least that’s what my friend assumed when she entered our conversation about bikes and said that she was into spinning. I have found dislike for spinners- because its just not biking to me.
Anyway I broke my sushi tempura virginity at Sushi Metsuyan and it was good. The sushi in fact was very good and I now understood why you cant buy sushi in a pizza store made by a Mexican who happened to look Asian to all us xenophobes. I got this cooked sushi roll that was a meal in itself, and this avocado wrapped roll as well, both looked good and tasted just as well.
Sushi Metsuyan is a great place to watch marriages appear as if the couple shouldn’t be married. There were many of these middle aged couples that arrived in fancy SUV’s that sat down and ate without talking to one another. Most of them ordered these huge fancy sushi platters, the cheapest being upwards of $40. Then during the meal both the man and women would be on their blackberries instead of talking. The women always dressed too tight with short skirts that made it appear they were trying to hard to get other peoples attention. It seemed as if the people were merely sushi addicts that needed partners to accompany them to get their fix, not many words were spoken.
For the main meal I decided to try the steak skewers and I regretted it on first bite, it was good, but not $28 good. It was more like decent, the sides were good, but it didn’t taste Asian, save for a few stray sesame seeds.
Al Di La:
Al Di La is apparently one of the oldest restaurants in Monsey and although it’s a little obscure and not as “cool” as the Purple Pear, the food is very good. Its more of a dark and romantic feel then a young and hip feel and it shows. The clientele is much older and less rowdy. Probably because its too small for children to run wild and the ambiance hushes all noise.
If you want to watch people do not come here, but if you moderately priced good tasting food I do recommend. I have been taken out here twice and have come in for the very good eggplant parm lunch special which is huge and is only $10. I have also had their French onion soup and it was awesome. The garlic knots and bread are also very good. The service is decent, but the water pouring is horrible, my glass always seems to be empty whenever I am there- forcing me to get up and take from the faucet.
Al Di La does not have sushi, nor does it have a salad bar, in fact I have never actually been to a real kosher salad bar, I assume because it become a scene of anarchy, based on my experience at falafel places in Brooklyn that let you have a field day at the salad bar- it always becomes messy and there are always people taking more then they should.
Wok and Take Out:
If you are a pot head in the need for munchies, chassidish man, frummy rebel, or just plain old cheap- this is your place. Grease and oil are the two main ingredients and you can get the lunch special for just $8 which comes with fried rice, a main course and a fried egg roll. My friend made the mistake of eating here and he has indigestion, not the best place for your heart, but I love it.
Its ghetto, actually most places in Monsey are ghetto and can’t seem to shake off that heimishe ghetto feel. Like almost every fast food restaurant in Monsey the people behind the counter are students at RCC and they seem constantly bored out of their minds. I always order the chicken with mixed veggies, I have had some other stuff which was very good- in a cheap grimy oil laden kind of way. The sweet and sour chicken was good and the beef dishes appear to made from rubber beef.
I haven’t eaten at the other Chinese place- Grand Bamboo, but I heard it was good. The problem is that prior to its name change, I had ordered a chicken and broccoli only to discover that they had given me the stems without the broccoli florets, I decided I would never eat there again, I thought it was a chutzpah.
J Café (JCC of Rockland)
I have met some people in Monsey who didn’t even know there was a JCC here, that’s how obscure this place is, and you know what its good, because when you sit down it’s the only place I have ever been in Monsey that was normal. In Monsey half of the reasons why people eat out is so they can play Jewish geography while walking to the bathroom, in fact this is why they go to the bathroom in the first place. Its very annoying, if you look closely you will even see people that just stop into the restaurant to see if there is anyone they know- you will hear, “oh we were eating next door and wanted to drop by” but this isn’t a residential street buddy.
So I had a calzone and it was by far the best calzone I had ever had. That’s all I had, but I could see what other people were ordering and this is the place to be picky. Ask any JCC member about the daytime crowd and you will get the same answer, old cranky grandmothers who are way too picky and wealthy suburban housewives with nothing better to do.
I witnessed some of the most picky people ever, claiming that they had put 1% rather then 2% milk in their oatmeal and that they wanted it changed. Asking to make sure it was 12 grain and not just whole wheat. The place is 100% kosher by the way, but I doubt any regular old Monseyites ever eat there, its just really out of the way over in West Nyack. Its owned by the same folks that own Ave- R cafe, but for some Reason Avenue R never looks appealing.
Kyo Sushi Steak House:
This is the most expensive restaurant in Monsey and in fact the only fancy one. The service is top notch, mostly because the people serving you are Japanese and not yeshiva high school dropouts. The ambiance is cool and the booths prevent too much Jewish geography from disturbing you. There is a sushi bar, and a full bar for that matter- which does not exist anywhere else in Monsey. You can come drinking in this place, but you would go broke from 3 shots.
As a shocker to many of you based on my seemingly cheap statements above I love Kyo for many reasons. First of all the food is amazing and you get what you pay for, the service is great, and it’s a great place to come if you want to chill and eat a long peaceful meal.
I used to come here when I worked for the state so that they would pay and I would go all out. I quickly discovered that for dinner I would either order the meat or fish bento box. This came with everything, soup, salad, main course with a bunch of samplings of side dishes. The meat bento box comes with a steak, chicken wings, tempura veggies, chicken maki roll and some other random sides, yes it comes out to $44 but its so good and I always have lunch for the next day. The fish box is similar and it coems with sushi, I never ordered sushi here because at a steakhouse I want steak, but I have heard only good things.
Its fun to watch the sushi bar, its usually a bunch of Chassidim throwing down loads of over priced raw fish and its funny. They also have tables where you can sit on the floor.
Overpriced good tasting fast food if I were to sum it up for you. The sino steak sandwich is great, but its mighty small for $15. The fries are McDonalds style and unlike any other burger joint I have ever seen you can buy sushi and make your own salads here. It awfully weird to watch families eating sushi and burgers.
Kosher Castle is great people watching as well, because they have bus parking and that means school trips come here, always interesting. It is also a place where Chassidim come with their families, unlike the takeout places which only have Chassidic men chowing down on cholent and shlishkis.
If you want the best in people watching come on a Sunday night, it’s a complete zoo, but for some reason the systematic chaos at the counter works out and you always get your food pretty quickly, it is probably due to the constant use of the deep fryer.
Chai Pizza is a famous Monsey establishment, it is a pizza store, but luckily for you they cut their pizzas into sixes and sometimes into less and this gives you more for you money. It may just be that the pizza cutters are always drunk and cant cut the pizza into eights but who knows.
Chai’s plain pizza is pretty good, and their veggie pizza while looking amazing, always fails my taste testers, the eggplant pizza would be amazing if not for their over usage of sauce, and lack of cheese. The service is the best of any pizza store, if you know how to be assertive.
I have found through my lifetime that kosher pizza stores are not the place to have low self confidence and lack of assertiveness, its kind of like at Kiddush, if you wait around you will never get any food. You have to jump in and take charge.
I did make a video about the sushi tempura I had at Chai Pizza and it was damned good, but from a cost basis it wasn’t that good.
I know there are many other restaurants in Monsey, but I haven’t eaten in them all. I bet some of you are wondering why I didn’t review Monsey Barbeque? Well every time I have gone in there I have waited and waited and it appears that if you are not into pushing people out of your way and screaming in yinglish or Yiddish you will never get your order in, it’s a zoo, its open late and I hear its good.
The original Shellis has great pizza, in fact I like their the best, but there isn’t much else to be said for the place and they only take cash. Jerusalem restaurant is just weird, and it kind of grosses me out. The other chai pizza has horrible service and the people behind the counter appear to be pissed of at you whenever you want to make an order- so I try to avoid it- its also pricey, although the falafel looks very good- $6.50 for a falafel is a real chutzpah if you ask me. Hey I never even had falafel in Monsey yet. Bubbas bagels is overpriced, but the danishes and muffins are very good, their bagels taste fine- but most kosher bagels stores taste the same. Although I have noticed that people are very loyal to defending the fact that their bagel store is the best. The best chocolate babka I ever had was bought in Zishes bakery, it was small and still weighed in at 2 pounds. I had a whole argument with the cashier about the 2 for $3 items because I wanted a muffin and a cheese Danish, but she was convinced that you needed to buy the same item, the service was very good, but I felt rushed. There’s this new ice cream place above Tuvias that I hear is real good but I am not one to go to Heimishe ice cream shops- since there is a Friendlys right down the road in Airmont and who can resist a sundae from Friendlys?
There are many takeout stores/restaurants in Monsey and these become late night hangouts for hockers and Chassidim. In fact Mechels right by Tuvias appears to be open every time I pass it late at night. There are several of these takeout places on 306, but I never go because it just doesn’t seem like my kind of place. The food is usually very good and fresh. Since there is no real deli in Monsey, anyone wanting a pastrami sandwich would have to go to one of these places.