Charley, a new Viennese bistro, recently opened in Harrison and it’s nothing short of a European experience. Located at 202 Angelo Cifelli Drive, Charley is run by acclaimed chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. Read on to learn more about Charley, new to Harrison.
Coming to Harrison
Charley officially opened on February 12. The concept was inspired by the culture of a Viennese Kaffeehaus or “coffee house.”
“Charley sprung from the idea to create a neighborhood bistro with inspired food and beverage offerings. Specifically, the concept of the historic Viennese café intrigued me, as reinterpreted through the lens of today’s healthier and more casual world,” hospitality investor David Barry, who’s also behind the development of the Harrison Urby Apartments building, told us.
“I’m always interested in building community around my developments. One of our signatures at Urby is to create a gathering space adjacent to the entrance of our building where the local community and residents can mix. Charley located in the newest Harrison Urby building is a perfect fit…Charley is rooted in the culture of a Viennese Kaffeehaus — a place where all walks of community would gather from day to night to exchange ideas.”
^ Mini Tartines (smoked salmon, baked ham, pastrami, spicy egg, red cabbage
The Bistro’s Vienna Vibe
The main dining room, which seats up to 65 guests, is an intimate setting with turquoise and white-themed décor. Upon entering, customers are face to face with the bar area, which has high tops and a few barstools for patrons who are waiting for their table or would rather sit at the bar for a cocktail or beer.
“Vienna was an important design capital in the late 1800s-early 1900s, so there are some really cool nods to the history of Viennese design, such as light fixtures inspired by Albert Loos and a poster wall typical of Viennese cafes that combines Vienna Werkstätte-style wallpaper with wheat-pasted, pop culture posters,” David shares.
Charley then expands onto a covered outdoor patio with a fireplace that is weatherproofed, making it a cozy place to enjoy a cocktail all year round.
About the Menu
The menu at Charley is made up of central-European dishes and includes vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options. Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, who conjured up Michelin-starred NYC restaurant Wallsé, brings his renowned culinary style to the restaurant. Kurt grew up in a small village outside of Vienna, making him very familiar with Viennese cafes. Laurent Vasseur, Senior VP of Food and Beverage for Urby, also runs operations inside the new restaurant.
“Kurt made the perfect partner for Charley. He is incredibly community-minded and was really excited about showcasing the Viennese spirit and translating his sublime cuisine into more of an everyday, neighborhood spot,” David tells us.
^ Chicken Schnitzel on a pretzel bun that comes with lingonberries and potato + cucumber salad
The shareable plates include Flammkuchen, an Alsatian flatbread; a hot pretzel with sweet and spicy mustard; Berlin Currywurst, which is sliced pork bratwurst (sausage), onions, tomato curry sauce, and french fries. The pretzel bun options include crab cake, Charley burger, chicken Schnitzel, smoked bratwurst, ham and egg sandwich, and Beyond Meat bratwurst.
The main dishes, which include staples of Viennese cuisine, include the Wiener schnitzel (veal dish), short rib goulash, crispy skin salmon, braised artichokes, and Shiitake Spätzle. There are also bistro dishes like mini tartines, salads, soups, and side dishes like sauerkraut, potato, and cucumber salad, and Quark Spätzle (pasta dish).
The drink menu consists of hand-selected German beers, Austrian crafted and classic cocktails, spiked hot and cold coffee drinks, and mocktails. The Viennese sweets consist of apple strudel, Berliner Krapfen (donut balls with apricot jam), Linzertorte (hazelnut cake), and Sachertorte (chocolate cake). There is also a carrot cake type dessert for gluten-free diners.
Check Out Charley
Charley is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4PM to 10PM and is closed on Mondays. Down the road, the owner will be adding a brunch and lunch menu “to make Charley a full coffee-to-cocktails environment.”
“Kurt and I are thrilled to bring our vision to life. Harrison is a dynamic, up-and-coming area, and we love what Charley will contribute to the neighborhood and hopefully encourage more people to visit,” David adds. “At its core, the Viennese Kaffeehaus embodies community: a place where people gather from day to night to socialize, meet, network and connect.”
^ Charley’s seasonal Winter Margarita made with tequila reposado and apple cider
Laurent, who works with all of the Urby buildings in NJ, CT, and NY, tells Montclair Girl that this is the first Charley of many that are to come in the future since they are hoping to have Charley at the other Urby locations.