Volley Tequila Seltzer Now Available in NJ

Volley, the awarding-winning tequila seltzer made with just three clean ingredients: 100% blue agave tequila, sparkling water, and organic juice, founded by husband and wife duo Christopher Wirth and Camila Soriano is now available in New Jersey.

As the first hard seltzer of its kind crafted without added sugars, natural flavorings, or preservatives, Volley launched this past July, stirring up the booming ready-to-drink category.

Volley is available in four guilt-free flavors: Zesty Lime, Spicy Ginger, Sharp Grapefruit, and Tropical Mango.

Volley ships to NJ through its new e-commerce platform, https://drinkvolley.com/pages/shop.

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Seasoned Chef Brings Poke Bowl Popup to Haddonfield

Chef Ralph Patrick Fernandez has over 30 years experience in the restaurant business as an Executive Chef and Culinary Director working at notable restaurants such as Moshulu in Philadelphia and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino. Now running his own hospitality group, he helps open other restaurants by providing consulting on design, kitchen operations, and menu development.

While doing some restaurant consulting in Boca Raton, FL last year, he came across poke bowls and fell in love with them. He had embarked on a healthy journey that saw him losing more than 60 pounds. He attributes his weight loss to eating fresh, clean, and raw meals. Poke bowls fit right into his new healthy lifestyle and diet.

So, when COVID hit, he wanted to create a concept that would appeal to the new restaurant industry (fast take-out/delivery) and something healthy and delicious. He immediately decided poke bowls would tick all of the boxes.

“I just really love poke bowls. They are not only healthy, but quite satisfying and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor,” Chef Fernandez told South Jersey Food Scene.

He launched Poke Xpress as a popup operating out of Denim BYOB at 116 Kings Highway East in Haddonfield. He and Chef David Murray worked together at Denim American Bistro when it was in Cherry Hill. He was a consulting chef in 2019. When he needed a space to create and sell his poke bowls, he turned to Murray.

Murray had temporarily shut down Denim BYOB in August to go on vacation and prepare for reopening in September, which he is hoping will include indoor dining at a limited capacity. In fact, he’s added a new upstairs dining area which will allow for more socially distanced indoor dining. He was more than happy to help his friend Ralph use the restaurant’s kitchen to host the poke popup.

“I couldn’t be happier to see my friend and former chef’s dream become a reality,” said Murray. “A month ago when we launched Poke Xpress out of the Denim kitchen for a one-day pop-up the positive response was so strong, Ralph decided to turn it into something. I will offer as much support as I can and know he will be a welcome addition in town.”

Poke Xpress offers a few signature poke bowls ($14.50) or your can build your own ($12.50) starting with a base, protein, sauce, choice of toppings, crunch, and extras. Base options include white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or a mix of all three. Protein options include ahi tuna, salmon, spicy tuna, spicy salmon, cooked shrimp, or cooked chicken.

The menu also features signature salads with your choice of chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

Hours are Monday thru Saturday from 11 am until 8 pm. You can place an order on the Toast app to pay with a debit or credit card or call (856) 520-8114 if paying by cash.

Unfortunately, delivery is not available at this time. Orders must be picked up at the restaurant. They will happily bring it to your car on Kings Highway or in the parking lot in the back.

The goal is to find a permanent strorefront in downtown Haddonfield. They’ve got a strong lead and hope to be securing it very soon. An annoucement will be made as soon as it is a done deal.

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Cherry Hill Mall Food Truck Festival to Benefit Children with Autism

The Cherry Hill Mall and Kamp for Kids will host a Food Truck Festival on Sunday, August 23rd from 12 PM to 6 PM outside of Macy’s in the adjacent parking lot. 100% proceeds from this event benefit children with autism and their families.

Pre-ordering and pre-paying is greatly suggested to cut down on waiting times.

Guests will enter the Macy’s far parking lot where they will be directed to the Food Truck of their choice.

There will be separate drive-thru lines set up for each truck.

You can then pick up your order from the food truck you selected, where a person wearing personal protective equipment will deliver your food to you.

The event will not have any on-site seating available. Admission is free.

PARTICIPATING FOOD TRUCKS:

For information on this event please contact
info@kampforkids.org

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Mama’s Meatballs in Pennsauken Returns with New Owners

Mama’s Meatballs has reopened at 2673 Haddonfield Road in Pennsauken under new ownership. The take-out & delivery brick & mortar restaurant and the popular food truck were sold to Joseph and Katherine Argento in June and reopened on July 31 adding pizza and hoagies to the menu.

“I’ve been in the pizza business my whole life,” said Joseph Argento, 34, of Marlton told South Jersey Food Scene. “I started working in my grandparent’s pizzeria when I was 8 years old and started making pizza when I was 13. They owned many pizza shops going back for 40 years when they emigrated from Sicily. Pizza is my passion because it’s always been my family’s business.” Some locations owned by other family members in Pottstown, PA, and Boyertown, PA remain in business.

Katherine and Joseph, both originally from PA, had been in living in South Jersey when they married in 2016. In 2017, they moved to Wyomissing, PA in Berks County, and opened Argento’s Pizza Palace in rural Richland, PA in Lebanon County. Earlier this year, they made the decision to sell the restaurant and move back to South Jersey.

“Katherine wanted to get back into the business and initially wanted to open a food truck. I wanted to open a storefront in Marlton, but that fell through. So, when we heard that Mama’s Meatballs was for sale, we felt it was exactly what we were both looking for,” Argento said.

As parents to five children, they are putting down roots in South Jersey and have big plans for Mama’s Meatballs & Pizzeria. In addition to adding pizza and hoagies to the menu, there are many new items in the research and development stage, including brand-new meatballs. They are keeping the exact details close to the chest for now, but promise not to change the originals that made Mama’s gourmet meatballs so famous.

“We plan to introduce some new meatball recipes, styles of topping them, and sauces to offer a variety of options for people,” Argento noted.

Joseph is also looking to perfect his pizza-making skills and learning better methods of dough fermentation. He is seeking to become certified in the Neapolitan technique of making pizza by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the official professional organization of Naples-style pizza.

“I am working towards becoming part of the USA pizza team and competing on a national level with my recipes and creations,” Argento proudly stated.

The pizza menu features a large selection of gourmet 16″ New York pies, and 16″x16″ Sicilian and Grandma-style pizzas. (Editor’s note: we tried the “Jumpin Juju” which is a tomato pie featuring a savory tomato sauce and chewy crust and it was delicious!)

Each meatball order features four balls served in a bowl with sauce, arugula, and shaved parmesan along with a salad or it can be ordered as a regular meatball sandwich with sauce, arugula, and parm (“Big Mama”) or Parm-style with sauce, shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan served on a rustic, seeded roll.

There are seven hoagies from “Mama’s Deli” to choose from or you can build your own.

A few salads and sides such as arancini, garlic knots, stuffed long hots, pepper shooters, Sicilian potato salad, tortellini salad, chicken tenders, and fries round out the menu.

The food truck is booked for a few socially distant events until the winter, and they have high hopes for the food truck, too.

“We have a grand vision for Mama’s Meatballs & Pizzeria. We don’t only want to be known as the best pizza in Pennsauken, but in the nation.”

2673 Haddonfield Road
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
856-488-5253

Monday-Saturday 11AM – 8 PM
Closed Sunday for Church & Family Dinner 

Mia’s Meals Opening Small Restaurant in Haddonfield

Mia Eylon started a home-based meal prep service when the COVID outbreak began. She started preparing homemade Kosher-friendly dishes influenced by the Israeli meals she grew up eating and quickly built up a following.

Raised in New York, with her parents originally from Israel, she moved to the Cherry Hill area in 1998 with her husband, whom she met after living in Israeli for a few years.

By word of mouth alone, Mia’s Meals quickly became so popular that she outgrew her kitchen and realized she needed to expand her small business.

For years she dreamed about opening a restaurant. With the meal prep service’s success, she felt it was time to explore that dream finally.

“I love cooking and hospitality,” Eylon told South Jersey Food Scene about the inspiration behind opening her first restaurant. “I love good food, and I love seeing people enjoy good food.”

After recently signing a lease for a casual space to set up her small restaurant in Haddonfield, she will soon take over the spot previously occupied by Violins and Guitars by Mitchell at 3 S. Haddon Ave. If everything goes well, she plans to open mid-September after some renovation currently in progress.

In addition to her already famous falafels, she will be serving hummus bowls with a variety of roasted vegetables such as cauliflower, eggplant, and beets. Potato bourekas, rice and lentil bowls, a rotating selection of soups in season, and Israeli specialties such as Shakshuka will also be featured. There will also be gluten-free items and desserts on the menu. She will use 100% kosher products.

Outside dining will be available as well as take out, delivery, and curbside pickup. Inside dining for up to 15 will also be offered as soon as it is allowed.

Be sure to follow Mia’s Meals on Facebook and Instagram for updates and official opening date. We can’t wait to check out the new restaurant when it opens!

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Flagg’s Garden Center Hosts Food Trucks in Moorestown

Missing the food truck festivals? Moorestown-based Flagg’s Garden Center is helping fellow small businesses by hosting various regional food trucks every weekend at its location at 4320 Bridgeboro Road.

According to its website, the 60-year-old garden center and landscaping company wanted to “pay it forward” to struggling food trucks suffering from a loss of business due to food truck events being canceled thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Popular food trucks who have vended there or will vend there soon are:

  • Bake’n Bacon
  • Cupcake Carnivale
  • Dan’s Waffles
  • Ma and Pa’s Tex-Mex BBQ
  • Mary’s Mobile Diner
  • Red’s Rolling Restaurant
  • The Chilly Banana
  • The Little Sicilian
  • The Munchy Machine
  • More to come!

They even have an area set up outside with some tables and chairs and frequently update their website, Facebook, and email list with schedule and information.

Social distancing guidelines are required to enjoy food from the food truck vendors on-site. Most trucks accept credit cards and some take Venmo or Paypal.

Flagg’s seems like the place to be this summer for your food truck fix!

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Valente’s Italian Specialties is Becoming Valente’s Cucina

A few weeks ago, Marcello De Feo announced that Valente’s Italian Specialties brick and mortar store would become Valente’s Cucina, a new Italian restaurant concept at 7 Kings Court in Haddonfield.

I sent Marcello a few questions to learn more about the transformation and what to expect at the Cucina.

South Jersey Food Scene: When did you decide to convert Valente’s Italian Specialties into Valente’s Cucina, in a town that already has many Italian restaurants?

Marcello De Feo: It was pretty organic and a decision that made itself, really. Haddonfield really does have a lot of Italian restaurants but so does Collingswood and they all seem to coexist. Truth be told, I did not want to be one of them. I never intended to focus on hot food and refused to make sandwiches for the longest time but the demand was there. So, I caved and I am glad I did. It became a bigger and more regular part of the business than the specialty products and I enjoyed making the food for people.

Now, I can bring the best of both concepts together. Combining those specialty products with freshly prepared foods is exciting. Instead of talking up a retail bottle of saba or bottarga, I could use them in dishes.  

Doing this gives me better quality control over the food too. Takeout and delivery really compromised the quality of the product, especially with third-party delivery services. Everything we make is made fresh from scratch and meant to be consumed that way. Dishes like Carbonara do not travel very well and food steams inside of takeout containers. So, I cut out the third-party services, limited what was available for delivery and decided to give people the option to sit and eat their food as soon as it is made.

SJFS: How much effort is involved? (I know you’re shutting down briefly for construction – what work will be involved in converting the space?)

MDF: There is a lot more effort than I expected but it will really be worth it in the end. There is no room for error in my space. Everything is transparent. We need to be as efficient as possible.

The first thing I did was to seek out the help of people who really excel at that. I hired Danielle Capozzi from Adorna Design and Lauren Hooks from Seedling Project Management to help me develop and organize the space. While cutting the kitchen size in half, they managed to increase storage space, give us more cooking equipment, add two types of seating, and design something that is incredibly beautiful.

We built banquette seating, a bar, cabinetry, a wet bar with wine storage, high end finishes, and a lot more. During the pandemic, we have been making gradual changes, which spread out the chaos of construction in both good and bad ways. The shape has evolved slowly over the last few months but it you have not been to Valente’s in a while, it will look completely different when you come in again.

SJFS: What can we expect at the Cucina? What will set you apart?

MDF: I pared down and split up the existing menu to create a Lunch menu of South Philly comfort foods and a Family Meal menu of Italian-American classics for takeout and delivery. Our kitchen will close from 3-5 to prep for dinner. During that time, the front of house will remain open and we will have a Café menu available for anyone who wants an espresso and biscotto.

When I think of Cucina, though, I think about dinner. That is the star of the show. In that regard, I think of it as more of a wine bar with a focused menu of small plates meant for sharing than I do an Italian restaurant. My heritage and experience permeate the menu but with a more liberal approach to Italian food. At its core, Italian cuisine is all about using a few fresh, local ingredients and making them shine. That is my goal. So, while I will approach menu development with the influence of Abruzzo in mind, I will be focused on using what is available around me. I have tentative plans to have some farmers grow ingredients for us and I hope, at some point, to have a bit of land I can use to grow ingredients too.

No matter the time of day, I want you to feel like you are in my home kitchen, like you are a member of my family. Naming it Cucina seemed perfect. Having a cozy space was a perfect pairing too.

SJFS: Who is working in the kitchen?

MDF: I am working on our roster. I am the Executive Chef. Jon D’anna (Sous Chef) and Harry Dallmer (Chef de Partie) remain on board from Valente’s Italian Specialties and we have hired an industry vet, Luis Contreras (Chef de Partie), who has worked in a number of great kitchens in and around Haddonfield over the years. He is quickly becoming the glue that holds everything together.

I have been in talks with Chef Antonio Lozzese from Milan who has worked in Michelin listed restaurants about joining us but that will remain on the back burner until the pandemic blows over and the restrictions on work visas loosen up again. My hope is to have him over here by 2021.

SJFS: Are you hiring or do you have all the staff you’ll need?

MDF: We just began hiring some front of house staff. I am really excited about a server we just hired. I have very high hopes for her. I hope to have her on full time and hire a second server to work part-time. If the last few weekend nights are an indication of what is to come, I will likely add another Sous at some point too.

SJFS: When do you expect to reopen?

MDF: Valente’s will only be closed for this upcoming week, really. The work that is being done right now is work that required everyone to be out of the building and it should not take too long to do. Of course, I just jinxed myself by saying that, though.

Our new sign should be done soon. If the timing works out, when we do reopen, it will be as Valente’s Cucina.

SJFS: Any special dinners coming in the future like you did last year?

MDF: I loved doing the outdoor fundraiser dinners with Walt (Gouldsbury), but there are no new ones in the works right now. He does make our desserts through The Custard Cart, though.

We may do some Founder & Signer pop-ups as the opportunities present themselves. Chef David Murray from Denim BYOB has hopped on board with us. He’s a great addition! What’s not to love about that guy?

I get a sense that, when the iron is hot, we will strike and open up a brick and mortar spot for F&S. There are no concrete plans for that, just my gut feeling. If a place pops up in Haddonfield that makes sense, I can see us making a move on it.


Looking forward to checking out Valente’s Cucina when it opens! Be sure to check it out when it does.

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Bubbakoo’s Burritos Reopens in Cherry Hill

Bubbakoo’s Burritos, a nationwide brand known for its Mexican-fusion style cuisine, is bringing back an original store in South Jersey.

The Cherry Hill restaurant, located in Camden County, NJ is soon-to-be back in business! After closing last December for some renovations and a change in ownership, the new franchisee, Danish Imtiaz is eager to reopen this store and implement his new ideas.

“I have great, new plans for the Cherry Hill Bubbakoo’s, and I can’t wait to get started!” says Imtiaz.

The popular Modified-Mex chain was founded in 2008 by seasoned industry veterans and restaurateurs, Bill Hart and Paul Altero. Their shared vision was to create something different; a build-your-own-burrito restaurant with fresh ingredients and a strong focus on customer service. Inspired by coastal life, our surf & skater décor and vibe offer a short getaway with each visit. Since the opening of their first location in Point Pleasant, NJ, Bubbakoo’s has expanded significantly throughout the country and continues to spread at a steady pace.

However, as COVID-19 has impacted the nation, it has also affected the expansion plans of many restaurants, including Bubbakoo’s Burritos. Maintaining the current stores and the wellbeing of the employees was the number one priority during these troubling times.       

As the country begins to reopen, Hart and Altero are ready to get their plans moving again. Bubbakoo’s Burritos will soon be opening several new stores across New York and New Jersey, with the grand reopening of Cherry Hill up next.

The Cherry Hill location opens its doors on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 56 Haddonfield Rd, Cherry Hill, NJ, and a Grand Reopening will follow shortly.

The location will be open for curbside pickup and delivery through Door Dash, Grub Hub, and Uber Eats. A few outdoor tables are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Lickety Splitz Ice Cream at Laurel Lanes Coming Soon

Laurel Lanes in Maple Shade announced that they will be opening a sweet & sinful handcrafted ice cream shop inside of the bowling alley where Tony Luke’s had previously been located. More details on Instagram:

I’m there for the alcohol-infused adult shakes! 😉

Laurel Lanes is located at 2825 Route 73 South, Maple Shade, NJ 08052.

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Where to Order Custom Grazing Boards in South Jersey

Let’s face it; entertaining will be slightly different this summer. Even as some COVID-19 restrictions gradually lift, large organized gatherings continue to be discouraged, and strict social distancing protocols are strongly recommended.

As sad as these times feel, you can still celebrate within the confines of your home or backyard by splurging on a custom cheese, charcuterie, or grazing board. Luckily, there are several small businesses in South Jersey that specialize in the creation of such boards for entertaining small crowds or JUST FOR YOU! 🙂

But First…What is a Grazing Board?

A grazing board is a small or large board or platter primarily featuring cured meats, cheeses, and crackers with a diverse array of accompaniments that can be tart, fruity, crunchy, smooth, or savory. Abundant and neatly organized, grazing platters act as gorgeous centerpieces and dramatic displays for entertaining. Typically offered as finger foods or nibbles at social affairs, these visually attractive spreads allow people to pick from and sample casually.

In other words, you’ve probably seen them many times at parties or events, but they’re getting a lot more attention these days for any occasion or no occasion at all.

Grazing Boards in South Jersey

Board Catering

Board Catering offers various sizes of grazing platters and board boxes featuring top-quality cured meats, varieties of cheese, fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, olives, bread, dips, and chocolate. During the pandemic, customers can order The Q Box (Quarantine Box) and have a mystery box sent to them filled with goodies. Board delivers in the tri-state (NJ/PA/DE) area.

Cut + Board

Cut + Board offers a variety of artisanal charcuterie boards as well as a brunch box. Based in Cape May, owners Sarah and Andrea have a background in graphic design and luxury management, respectively. Sarah also owns a small farm and often uses ingredients from it on their boards.

Dream Boards

Dream Boards specializes in custom, one-of-a-kind sweet, and savory boards. Perfect for holidays, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, brunches, and girls nights, boards can be unique and fit any theme the customer requests.

Farm to Board

Farm to Board builds meticulously-styled custom charcuterie boards sourced from the finest cheeses, freshest meats, unique and delicious accompaniments. They work with local purveyors as much as possible and offer contact-free home delivery.

Grazing Affair

Grazing Affair offers many bountiful boards and transportable takeaway boxes filled with fresh fruits and veggies, Italian meats and cheeses, crackers, homemade beet hummus, olives, dried fruits, and nuts. While grazing boards for events are not currently available due to COVID-19 restrictions, takeaway boxes are available for pickup in Medford on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Graze to the Occasion

Graze to the Occasion crafts visually stunning and playful grazing boards and platters for all occasions. They accept custom orders via Instagram.

What’s on your favorite grazing board?