Orama on the Hudson in Edgewater NJ

Orama on the Hudson in Edgewater NJ

Stepping into Orama, {595 River Road, Edgewater NJ; 201.945.2020; orama.com} located on the Hudson River in Edgewater, you will immediately feel as if you are an invited guest to a private Mediterranean villa. The absence of a hostess station adds to the feel, as does being personally greeted in the foyer as if you have just arrived for dinner at a friend’s place. Whether you dine inside or on the waterfront patio, you’ll feel right at home.

All throughout Orama you’ll find truly spectacular works of art, from mosaics to paintings, penciled artwork to the mural which spans the ceiling—all custom created just for the restaurant by esteemed artist Alex. J Morales. Whether it is the soft glow of color-changing lights shining through the first floor stone bar, the eight-foot mirror by the entrance framed in a tile mosaic, or the textured walls, each and every detail was carefully planned to cohesively complete the look and feel of the interior.

The menu was designed by Executive Chef Martin Rangel, and a (seasonal) meal here certainly shouldn’t be missed. “It’s a hidden gem,” says Co-Owner Stacey Christakos. “We are very thankful for the opportunity to have created Orama. We are proud of the design and artwork by Alex, the wonderful menu Chef Martin created, and our friendly and cheerful staff.”

To complement your meal, a wide variety of wines and spirits are available. You can have an affordable Orin Swift wine such as the Palermo Cabernet, or if you’re out for a celebratory occasion, cheers with a glass of Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne. To finish off your dining experience, there are many options from Pastry Chef Carrie Spindler, who also owns Goodie Box Bake Shop in Cliffside Park. Chocolate Cannoli Cake, Tiramisù, and Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake are just a few of the sweet treats available.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Co-Owner Simeon Maximiadis, artist Morales, and Chef Rangel, who shared their own impressions of Orama and its unique offerings.

Co-Owner Simeon MaximiadisMaximiadis first became involved in the restaurant industry when a friend of his asked him to work part-time as a restaurant manager, just for a couple of days. He didn’t know he would be drawn to the interaction with guests. That experience took him into the restaurant business, eventually leading to Orama, which opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 2015.

DiningOut: How would you summarize the dining experience at Orama?
Maximiadis: I didn’t want guests to arrive here and say, “Oh, they have a nice view.” I wanted them to also appreciate the inside, especially Alex’s work. We want guests to come and enjoy the hospitality, the delicious food, and the ambience. We want the experience to touch all five senses—from the taste, touch, and smell of the food, to the sight of the artwork, and the sounds (the live music).

We’ve heard that you have a chef’s tasting table. Can you tell us what that experience is like?
The tasting table takes a minimum of three hours, and contains between eight and 11 courses. We ask our guests some preliminary questions. We like to understand what direction they would like to go and what ingredients they prefer, such as seafood or steak. We also ask about dislikes, so that we can stay away from things guests don’t enjoy.

Can you tell me what your guests like about Orama?
They like that they are in a place that cannot be found on this side of the Hudson. In terms of the food, we always try to elevate ourselves, in part by using fresh ingredients. Expectations are high and we always try to meet them. From Chilean Sea Bass to Kobe Beef, people enjoy our entire menu. We try to balance the experience here.

Anything else you’d like us to know?
Every guest is welcome here. We want to provide the best playground for guests to enjoy themselves. We provide warm hospitality, with a smile and friendliness. We have a lot of repeat guests, and we’re really proud of that.

Orama Edgewater staircase

Artist Alex Morales

A versatile artist, Morales has a boundless creativity which he applies to various techniques in both in two and three dimensions, creating his own personal style. He’s been creating art for more than 30 years, mainly in his native Uruguay and the United States. His work spans all art mediums, from portraits using pencil, oil, and acrylic paint, to mosaics and sculpture. Alex also stands out as a mural painter.

DiningOut: Do you have a favorite type of art to create?
Morales: No—I enjoy everything. It depends on what I’m feeling. Sometimes, I am very calm and I want to draw. Other times, I am more emotional and like to work with something hard, like stone or wood, or a mosaic. It all depends on the situation. I am a classic artist. Sometimes my clients need something specific, and I create that. Being versatile has helped me to do many different things.

What are you working on now?
I have an art gallery in Hoboken—Alex Morales Art. My studio is there, too. Every day I work there and people come in to commission work or buy my pieces of art from the gallery. I have everything—sculptures, paintings, and drawings.

Where has your work been featured?
I’ve had many exhibitions throughout the United States, including places such as New Jersey, New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles. I’ve also been featured in Uruguay, Argentina, and Spain. I’ve received a few awards in my country for my art.

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork that you created for Orama?
The mural around the top of the ceiling is probably my favorite. It was the first piece of art I worked on here, inspired by the stone on the first floor bar. I had a blank canvas. There was nothing in there—just the structure. The mural starts with shapes inspired by the stone from the bar, and comes to life first in fish, then a bird—it’s like a metamorphosis. It also contrasts with the river. I also like the mosaic. It has more than 10,000 pieces, which were carved by hand. My approach here was to be different, but at the same time balanced. Ultimately, my artwork in Orama comes together in one piece.

Executive Chef Martin Rangel

Born and raised in Mexico, Executive Chef Martin Rangel moved to the United States when he was 17. His 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry began by working at a few restaurants in New York City, where he quickly fell in love with the kitchen. Starting as a dishwasher, he eventually worked his way up to a prep cook then executive chef. In this journey, he worked at times without pay just to learn more about cooking. That, he says, was his culinary school, as he didn’t have the chance to attend. He’s been pleasing guests at Orama as the executive chef for the last six months.

DiningOut: Where does your interest in the culinary world come from?
Rangel: My mother is an excellent cook. I think that is what gave me my talent and passion for cooking.

What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
I was trained in the French technique so I really love French cooking. But, lately, I’ve really been incorporating some Asian and Latin flavors into my repertoire.

Can you describe your cooking style?
New American, because of all of the different cuisines I work with—especially the fusion. I would also say my style includes clean, well-presented plates.

Can you tell us what inspires you?
Fresh product. It doesn’t matter if it is a protein, vegetable, or fruit—that is what inspires me.

Orama has a seasonal menu. What is one of the most popular dishes on this season’s menu?
The Chilean Sea Bass with a celery root purée, French lentils, and a truffle mushroom.

Visit Orama at 595 River Road in Edgewater. You can also peruse their menus online at orama.com.

For further information about artist Alex Morales, visit ajmorales.com or email him at hola@ajmorales.com.

By Heather Dean Bennington