With all that’s gone down in the past year, is it any wonder we’re all looking to escape to a simpler time, especially when it comes to eating out? Luckily, the Maroulakos brothers are here to act as experienced time-traveling guides for Bergen County’s restaurant scene as it gets back on its feet post-pandemic. After successfully taking us back to the 1930s at Cowan’s Public, in Nutley, and even further back to the Colonial Era with The Barrow House, in Clifton, the successful restauranteurs are set to transport diners back to the 1950s at their latest venture, Gus' Last Word.
Opening July 7 in Wood Ridge in the space formerly occupied by Cousin Vinny’s, Gus’ Last Word is, in the Maroulakos’ words, “a love letter to the classic bars of the 1950s”—specifically their grandparents’ 1950s cellar bar—with a focus on handmade cocktails, draft brews, and familiar American bar food fare “centered around the warm hospitality we were raised on.”
The graphics-heavy menu—outfitted in classic 50s cream, teal, and orange—has plenty of familiar and fun options that won’t have you Googling the names of exotic ingredients or highbrow culinary terminology. Shareable plates like Fried Chicken Lollipops (served with hot honey and blue cheese; $10), Deviled Eggs ($7) and the kid-friendly Giant Pretzel ($13) quickly set the tone for the nostalgia-filled meal to come. The mid-century vibe continues with a small selection of fruit-flavored salads ($15), super-sized sandwiches and burgers (all served with fries or a side salad; $14-$18), and large plates like the Pork Porterhouse accompanied by cheesy grits and broccolini ($29), Crispy Skin Salmon served with couscous and green-goddess coated local spinach ($25) and the can’t-miss Cajun Mac & Cheese featuring generous pieces of blackened shrimp and andouille sausage ($26). Joining them soon will be a selection of thin-crust pizzas that are sure to feature even more blast-from-the-past flavors.
Gus’ makes it easy to wash it all down with their extensive beverage menu, featuring plenty of plays on classic drinks—including their signature eponymous cocktail (Ford’s gin, green chartreuse, French herbal liqueur, maraschino liqueur, lime, and Peychaud’s bitters); $13—along with a selection of over a dozen draft beers and wines (by the glass or bottle) focused on a mix of domestic and international offerings.
Ready to make the culinary quantum leap? White bucks and bobby socks aren’t required, but reservations are definitely recommended.