We all have those places we can’t forget. For some, it might be that first bar we got drunk in, for others, it’s that restaurant our families took us to every single birthday. As time went on, so did the restaurant of my childhood; although it went through many changes, one thing stayed the same…that familiar feeling of home once I entered the door, and the faces I came to know and love to greet me at every visit. There may be a lot of restaurants I have visited over the years, but there will only be one Rivara’s in Fair Lawn that I grew up with. This article I had the pleasure of sitting down with family friend Frank Rivara, to share the story of this restaurant gem, and how I celebrated my milestone birthday this month with a quality dining experience, a few laughs,
and of course…ribs.
Born into the restaurant business, In 1915, Frank’s grandfather created the Hotel Victor, which was named after his first son,
Victor. Frank’s father then opened the Maywood Inn. That’s how Frank first got exposed to food, and in 1971 he graduated college, and came upon a little location called the Riverview Terrace. What started as a bar/eatery serving German cuisine, the
location was soon to become Frank’s first venture called The Owl and I. In 1988 Frank decided to change the name again
to Rivara’s Bar and Grill. As the market changed due to drunk driving laws, Frank decided to morph more towards an eatery
and less towards the bar scene. The market soon shifted again in 1991, and Rivara’s was about to get another makeover…towards Broadway. Frank changed the name to Rivara’s A Taste of Broadway and the restaurant went out of their way to go out
and buy tickets on request. They offered a package deal: Orchestra and/or mezzanine seat for Broadway’s latest hot ticket, 4 course meal, and transportation to the city. Business was booming, and for 20-22 years Rivara’s was living the dream …
However, when 9/11 occurred, it hurt the market, and although Rivara’s survived, in 2008 tickets were going south. Tolls began
going up and it became more unaffordable for Rivara’s to continue its Broadway ventures. In order to keep up with the changing times, Rivara’s returned to its roots, changing its name back to the Owl Pub where it continues to wine and dine to this day.
Rivaras’ Menu is best described as continental. It’s combines both American Steakhouse and Rib house menus, Italian fare,
and addresses all the popular cuisines. The food ranges from its famous baby back ribs to crab cakes, all of which are made
on premises, baked, and never frozen or deep fried. Besides Enjoying some Famous Ribs at Rivara’s The Owl Pub in Fair Lawn
35metnights.com FEB – MARCH awesome food, Rivara’s also offers a variety of dining and entertainment options throughout the week, including: Monday Buy 1, Get One Ribs, Tuesday Open Mic, Wednesday Piano Karaoke, Thursday Sizzling Steak and Duo/Trio Night, Friday Night Karaoke with Tre, and finally, Saturday night live bands which has featured some well-known names, such as Stoneflower, 10 Til Two, and The Mighty Spectrum. New bands joining the line-up include Nightcrawlers and Five Equals One. Also, Rivara’s is celebrating their 46th year in business! Follow Rivaras on Instagram and Facebook for more information.
Looking for a place to hold an event, a meeting, or even a charity fundraiser? Rivara’s has 2 beautiful event rooms perfect for
any occasion. The Skylight Room can fit up to 100 people, a portable bar, internet access and a DJ/dancing area. The Majestic
Room on the first floor is perfect for those intimate gatherings you might have planned for the future, and is adjacent to the Owl
Pub. Between the food, event spaces, and plenty of catering options to choose from, Rivara’s is the go-to spot for a flawless get
together to remember. Intrigued yet? Call for more information!
As my 30 and Flirty birthday finally arrived, I knew I had to celebrate this milestone with those I knew best and of course…some
delicious food. Even though I live in Newark now, that won’t keep me from tradition! The commute is very simple travelers, but
make sure you leave a bit before 5 to avoid any traffic annoyances. You can take Public Transportation if push comes to shove,
but I don’t recommend it. Save yourself the headache and just Uber if you have no other option, you’ll be glad you did. Once
arriving, I was greeted by Frank Rivara and Amy. They quickly seated me in the dining area, where the tables were pristine, and
the candlelit ambiance was both warm and inviting.
Since it was my birthday, my father decided to join me to celebrate. Lucky for us, we were pretty easy customers since we’ve
been coming there for years. To start, we opted for the Split Pea Soup and as always, it did not disappoint. The herbs and spices
blended flawlessly with the potato and ham giving you a reason to keep coming back for more. Once our starter was complete,
it was then time for the pièce de résistance…Rivara’s famous Ribs and the Sizzling Steak entrees. Now if you aren’t familiar with
either of these dishes, get your butt down there pronto to try them! Let’s start with the ribs: slow-cooked and the meat is special
ordered from Denmark to ensure the best of its final product. Once completed the meat practically falls off the bone containing
little to no fat, and finally brushed with love guised as a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce guaranteeing you a delightful meal
experience every time. Drooling yet? You should be. Now let’s talk Sizzling Steak. 12 oz of New York Stripped Sirloin grilled to
perfection marinated in Maggi Sauce, before arriving to you served on a hot skillet dish. This entree is not only pleasing to the
eye, but the sauce is fit for the gods. Your jaw will drop at how truly delicious it is, and I guarantee it will be your new favorite
dinner pick at first bite.
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up and many options to choose from, I insist you add Rivaras to one of your go-to stops. For 35
years, its staple dishes of homemade corn beef cabbage, shepherds pie, and lamb stew will make your visit well worth the venture from wherever you have roamed from, and believe me, although the name may have changed over the years the quality in
fine dining, entertainment, and event planning packages continues to make Rivara’s The Owl Pub is a truly remarkable gem in
its circles and beyond. Don’t forget to book your reservation this March, until then cheers and happy eating!