Sometimes you have to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture, New York City. Whether those times are at brunch, happy hour or a night out, the ideal place is at The Terrace at RoofTop at Exchange Place in Hyatt House in Jersey City. We got an exclusive look at the new rooftop bar, and yes, it is the epitome of hashtag views.
Let’s unwrap the name real quick: Jersey City is west of Manhattan, Exchange Place is its coastal neighborhood, the Hyatt House is JC’s just-opened hotel, The Terrace is on its 13th floor (no, it isn't scared of superstition) lounge, and one floor above that is the RoofTop, an atrium bar that will open the same time the tulips do this spring. Anyway, it’s like drinking in a postcard. As you gaze out on one of the best skylines in the world (apologies, NYC, but Hong Kong and Chicago have us beat) you get the full panorama of Gotham. Surely, there are wonderful rooftop bars dotted along Manhattan and the outer boroughs, but because The Terrace and RoofTop are situated on the Jersey City waterfront, you get a clear view of the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty from one vantage point—I tried to get them all in one Snapchat but the vista was too vast to scan in a scant 10 seconds.
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One of my dining and drinking companions who is a Manhattanite was rendered gobsmacked by the view. Though I’ve lived in Jersey City for about 15 years and have spent most weekends during that duration having coffee on the same block as The Terrace, I too was rapt when seeing a scene that has been a backdrop of my life from a higher vantage point. Back over the Hudson, a millionaire investment banker was swirling his Dalmore 64 Trinitas scotch and looking out from his Tribeca high-rise, but we, looking back at him, were the ones with a billion-dollar view.
We weren’t on scotch this evening; instead we drank our way through the house cocktails, all of which cost $13—that’s Jersey City prices, ba’bay! The most suitable for the brisk evening was Hudson Tea made of Corgi (local distiller) Earl Grey Gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and Angostura bitters. More local flavors can be found in beer selections from New Jersey Beer Co. and Jersey City’s own Departed Soles Brewing Company. The first keg kicked at the Terrace was Departed’s Dark Night IPA. The crowd-pleaser is a drink made of three types of rum and a few juices served in what looks like a fish bowl with a wine stem. At $52, it is five drinks for the price of four, and is only served to parties of four. However, that is as gauche as The Terrace will let you get; it has a strict “No shots!” policy which will hopefully keep the bros at (Hudson) bay.
The nosh is nice, and while not the reason to visit The Terrace, it is better than your better-than-average hotel bar fare. Highlights were mussels and chorizo, a pimento cheese dip and meatballs. It is quite ballsy to trot out meatballs at a non–Italian restaurant in New Jersey during a soft opening, but chef Chef Dongil Cha dropped his on the table. In preparation for the opening, he messed with a mix of pork, beef and veal until he got the approval of General Manager Mark DiPiazza, who didn’t say that they bested his family recipe but that his mother “would be proud.” Other than an awareness of the location, the chef was cognizant of crowd. Accompanying the meatballs is garlic-y toast he has made from provincial Hudson Bread focaccia. We’re calling it “garlic-y” and not garlic breach because shaves of garlic—sliced with a razor blade ala Paulie in Goodfellas—sit on top of the bread so if you have desires to strike up a conversation with a potential date, you can flick them off and eschew the risk of garlic breath. Thanks for looking out, Chef Cha.
But how does one get to this mythical land of Jersey City? The Terrace is adjacent to the Exchange Place PATH, which you can board from Manhattan stations at One World Trade Center, Christopher Street, 9th Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street and 33rd Street, with just a swipe from a MetroCard (though not the monthly). The more Instagrammable way to travel is by ferry across the Hudson to Paulus Hook, which lets out a block or so from The Terrace. But my social media darlings, take heed: The ferry ride from the World Financial Center to Paulus Hook takes about five minutes, if that, so find your best selfie angle swiftly. There’s also a helipad near The Terrace, but I’ve never been privy to how one hails a helicopter.
Once on New Jersey terra firma, the Hyatt House is at 1 Exchange Place, not to be confused with the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson at 2 Exchange Place—the latter is on the pier, but the one you are looking for is an old bank building with an exterior glass elevator that will eventually zip you up to The Terrace. There you will find the best view of Manhattan’s skyline (with a pocket so picturesque the beverage director has dubbed it “The Proposal Corner”) and the price of admission is only a $13 cocktail. Right now The Terrace opens at 4pm and brunch on weekends. When the weather warms, The RoofTop will be 3,100 square feet of the going-out scene toasting the scenery.
New York City, drink yourself in.
Photographs: Nina Wolfe