New Brunswick's Newest Restaurant Embraces Greek Cuisine, Adds a Twist

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City Center’s newest restaurant pays homage to the cuisine and culture of the Greek community that once thrived in New Brunswick while presenting traditional dishes with a modern twist.

Old meets new at Taka Taka Street Greek at 367 George Street, where the menu is filled with fast-casual, fresh interpretations of longtime favorites, and the walls are adorned with vintage photos of Greek life in New Brunswick.

“Taka Taka was inspired by my family being Greek,” said owner and operator Doug Schneider, whose restaurant opened Monday. “We are in the Greek community locally and we cook Greek food at home and I never really had the opportunity to put a Greek concept anywhere. 

“When I brought this to Chef Jackie Mazza, she got really excited because she could take all of her culinary expertise and basically combine her expertise and an inspiration of Greek cuisine and create some really cool signature dishes.”

Mazza, who has created innovative menus at some of Schneider’s restaurants including Clydz and Tavern on George, has whipped up something called the Falafel Waffel and transformed the beloved gyro into a Greek version of a cheesesteak.

The Greek Chopped Cheese sandwich strikes a tasty balance between traditional and modern. It’s a chopped beef and lamb gyro with sautéed onions, lettuce, and ketchup with liberal amounts of velvety American cheese poured on top. All the flavors collide on a fresh hero roll.

“Chopped cheese is one of the most popular items in places like New York City,” Schneider said. “But rather than doing it with a traditional chopped cheese, which has ground beef in it, we use our rotisserie gyro meat. We chop the gyro meat up and we mix that with the cheese.”

Modern is also a word to describe Taka Taka’s technology platforms. Customers looking for a moderately priced lunch, for example, can utilize the kiosk to place their order at the counter, or they can order online ahead of time. You wouldn’t expect anything but quick service at Taka Taka, which roughly translates into English as hurry up or get going.

Of course, customers can opt to sit down in the dining room and try dishes such as the build-your-own item. You start off by choosing a bowl, wrap, or salad, then add your protein of choice. Then you add three ingredients ranging from za atar to crumbled feta to pepperoncini. Finally, you top it off with a dressing, such as granchi, lemon herb vinaigrette, Greek dressing, or balsamic.

If you dine in, take a few minutes to gaze at the wall of vintage framed photos, many depicting scenes of Greek life in New Brunswick. Schneider points to a photo of the Spinning Wheel Diner, a Greek-owned restaurant that was popular in New Brunswick in the 1950s. Below that is a photo of a Greek family enjoying a meal at a long table. Next to that is a picture of a man strumming what appears to be a bouzouki while other men around him dance.

“Something that I think is lost on that is that lower Church Street and the area that is now Hiriam Square was filled with Greeks when they came to this country,” Schneider said. “And there were a handful of families – the Pataki family, the Moustakas family, the Solomos family, the Papadakis family, and many more. They developed a true little Greek culture within New Brunswick and even went as far as to found the church (St. George Greek Orthodox Church), which is now in Piscataway, but it was in New Brunswick and went to Piscataway.”

The opening of Taka Taka comes as Schneider is opening the Kefi Ballroom, a 10,000-square-foot space at 13 Paterson St. suited to host birthday parties, baby showers, fundraisers, corporate events, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

Taka Taka Street Greek restaurant at 367 George St. is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The phone number is 848-202-9861.

Story & Photo By: Chuck O'Donnell