Although the name may manifest ancient civilizations, the Phoenician Restaurant at 284 Center Avenue in Westwood delivers a contemporary, sophisticated dining atmosphere paired with friendly service.
Tables are spaciously set apart from each other for an open yet private and comfortable experience. Bathed in soft earth tones, the indoor spaces flow into each other, surrounding an attractive, intimate private event room. There's also a beautiful patio for outdoor dining. General manager Jackie Russ says, "We're lucky to have such a beautiful space—and we have the best patio in town!"
The Phoenician was opened in September of 2021 by local business owner George Cattiny in the former Bibi'z location. George and Jackie wasted no time gathering local culinary talent. Chef Glenn Schwabik has worked in the kitchens of Napa Valley Grille, Morton's, and Park West Tavern, while Chef Al Scazafave has cooked at South City Grill, Fin, and LeTour, to name a few for each. Jackie worked with both chefs at several venues throughout the years and knew they would be perfect to take the lead at the kitchen's helm, highlighting the Mediterranean flair of Spanish, Greek, and mid-Eastern cuisine.
The restaurant's popular dishes include seafood paella, kabobs, blackened ahi tuna, grilled skirt steak, and Moroccan lamb meatballs. Specials vary each week. "We also accommodate all kinds of dietary preferences," says Jackie. "We offer many gluten-free choices which are clearly marked on the menu. We can also customize dishes for guests who are dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan."
All desserts are made in-house, and many gluten-free options are available for a post-dinner indulgence.
Although the Phoenician does not have a liquor license, New Jersey state liquor laws permit the sale of bottled wines from New Jersey-based wineries. An extensive selection of wines is available from Turis Vineyards in Cape May, "and they are outstanding," notes Jackie.
Jackie and her team have comprised a special prix fixe three-course menu on Tuesdays through Thursdays for only $30. "Team that up with date night at the movies, and you have an entire night out for less than $100," says Jackie. The venue also serves up live acoustic music weekly.
The Phoenician offers full-service catering, and anything on the menu can be ordered for take-out and delivery. They've recently unveiled Sunday Brunch service from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. each week.
Being located right in the heart of Westwood has many advantages. "Westwood has really come a long way over the past few years," says Jackie. "Coming out of Covid has been a big challenge—but I love a challenge! We like our retail neighbors and the borough has been great to work with."
The restaurant has developed a regular clientele who visit weekly. "It’s become like a family,” says Jackie. “When your guests arrive, and you greet them with a hug and a kiss, they aren’t guests anymore. The experience is what it’s all about—from the time you walk in until you leave, people enjoy the aesthetics, music, comfort, and attentiveness.”
Jackie enjoys sharing this special place with all of her guests. “I love people, and I enjoy making them happy. The fact that they keep coming back is the reward!”
“When your guests arrive, and you greet them with a hug and a kiss, they aren’t guests anymore."