One of Mahwah’s great pleasures sits right off the junction of Route 17 North and South on Route 202 South, having served the town of Mahwah with great food since 1977: The Mason Jar.
Located at 219 Ramapo Valley Road, less than a mile from the rolling campus of Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Mason Jar is a popular dining spot for both the college scene, as well as locals, set in a comfortable American pub setting.
The Mason Jar is co-owned by Ira Kaplin and Joel Weiss. Kaplin, who was born in Suffern and now resides in Warwick, and Weiss, who is from Woodcliff Lake, bought the popular restaurant on Dec. 4, 2009 from Bob Belisonzi, the original owner of The Mason Jar when Belisonzi announced his retirement.
“Over the last year since we’ve been here, we’ve improved the quality of food and made the prices fairly reasonable,” Kaplin said. “We’ve cleaned up the place a bit and added an entirely new menu.”
Kaplin admitted to the restaurant business in his blood; his parents were once owners of the Green Room in nearby Suffern, New York.
“I’ve been in the business for a while. When Joel and I saw this was available, we went out and bought it,” Kaplin added.
The Mason Jar ambiance is quaint and charming; smoked wood panel walls and floors convey a country cottage feel. The walls are decorated with various New York Yankees memorabilia: pictures of Joe DiMaggio, team photos from the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990’s, and even photos of Red Sox great Ted Williams.
The bar area is festooned with neon signs for Budweiser and Miller Light, and in the dining room a huge car hood with the Miller Light insignia on the front is suspended from the ceiling.
“All the décor was here before we arrived. We haven’t had to add much,” Kaplin said.
One interesting decorative feature is the assortment of wooden pigs that line the shelves of bar area and runs well into the large dining area.
“The pigs are a symbol of our BBQ dishes,” Kaplin explained.
The menu is significantly changed from the older menu, which was much smaller and trimmed in the shape of a mason jar, but the new menu is five pages and features a wider array of entrées. From appetizers to salads, soups, BBQ specials, seafood, chicken, steaks, tacos, pizza and Italian foods, the Mason Jar has it all. According to Kaplan and some of the bartenders, Southern BBQ is the most popular dish, next to Mason Jar’s long tradition of hamburgers and the classic Reuben sandwiches.
A customer can order either a full rack or half rack of BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, Carolina pulled pork, or Southern pork loin priced from $8.99 to $22.
Or, customers can order a 14 oz Angus center cut of New York Strip steak for $25.
Pizza? The Mason Jar offers oven-baked pizza, which Kaplin says has increased in popularity among the townspeople.
A full bar in the front of the restaurant, with five HD televisions tuned in to the latest sporting events, boasts 16 beer varieties on tap that includes bottled beer and a dramatic liquor cupboard.
A separate Sunday brunch menu features 60 food items and is “one of the best brunches in the whole area,” Kaplin asserts.
Even if customers can’t make it for a night out at the Mason Jar, Kaplin says the restaurant now features a delivery service for homes and business within a five mile radius.
Of course what is an American restaurant/pub without entertainment?
Since buying the Mason Jar, Kaplin and Weiss have provided customers with great entertainment on a weekly basis. Friday and Saturday nights, the Mason Jar furnishes live musical performances that attract adults of all ages with such musical groups as Buckshot, Peach Project, Knight Crawlers, Unhinged, Almond Brothers, Reflection and HUSHH. Thursday nights are reserved for college event nights with students from Ramapo College, and other local colleges, gathering for an evening with a live DJ.
During the summer, The Mason Jar had its first annual Classic Car show, where 30-60 classic cars pulled into the parking lot. Participants in the event had a chance to win prizes, and, Kaplin says, he’s excited to hold the event again later this year.
“We have everything. We want people to be happy when they come in and leave with a smile,” Kaplin concluded.
Customers can log on to www.masonjar.com for full events and menus, or call 201-529-2302.