In its heyday, Bell Labs hosted more than 6,000 workers, and many of those hungry employees took in their lunch at the cafeteria on the ground level here. A typical institutional style cafeteria lined with tiled walls and food stations, the cafeteria was designed to serve many people, quickly and efficiently.
Decades later, the reimagined building that is now Bell Works has taken a deep exhale as old dingy walls have been replaced by clear glass and the halls and offices once again hum with business. And to meet the demand of these new workers and the daily public visitors, the food service experience has come out of the dark of the basement and into the light.
Now wrapped in white artisan tile and finished with marble countertops and natural wood Danish furnishings, the new Bell Market is a light, bright European style food hall that welcomes lunch crowds to an experience far removed from the cafeteria.
Photo by Lapeg Photography
Open to the public Monday through Friday, Bell Market is actually a curated collection of five culinary destinations.
* Bubz Deli: Thoughtfully crafted New York-style deli classics on bread made fresh daily.
* Jozu: Sushi, ramen and robatayaki (Japaneses style charcoal barbecue).
* Broadfork: Made to order salads featuring local greens, grains, vegetables and proteins.
* Honeybell: Sweet and savory breads, cookies, cakes, croissants and coffee.
* Corbo & Sons: Wood-fired oven Italian fare, featuring both Neapolitan- and Roman-style pizzas.
Starting in July, the chefs opened the destinations one at a time over the span of several weeks. The last of the bunch, the wood-fired pizzeria, is now open.
Bell Market is the first of several planned eateries in the metroburb. This month, Mediterranean franchise The Hummus & Pita Co. recently opened its doors next to Booskerdoo, the coffee and bake shop. Mexican restaurant Estrella Azul is expected to open next year. More lunch and dinner spots are expected to be announced in early 2019.
Chef Richard Corbo’s specialty is pizza.
The collection of five different eateries reflects the tastes and specialties of the owners - RBC Hospitality Group - which stands for Run By Chefs. The chefs, Richard Corbo, Chad Spencer, Jeff Systma and Sommelier Chantelle Corbo founded the group with a vision of escaping the relentless city grind and the often brutal restaurant lifestyle to create a company that put quality of ingredients and quality of life for the staff as the core mission. “Our first value is to produce beautiful food we feel great about, from sources we feel good about,” Corbo said. “We start there and figure out how to make money afterward, rather than make a lot of money and weave some quality somewhere along the way.”
The partners of RBC (from left to right): Chef Jeff Systma, Chef Chad Spencer, Bell Market Manager Marielle Nuval, Sommelier Chantelle Corbo and Chef Richard Corbo.
Can I get that to go? “Let them have the experience that they want to have.”
With sandwiches like the Midnight Moon Gouda topping out at $14, the Bell Market menu is definitely high end, but the chefs say the menu is actually a mix of high/low options. Each eatery has a splurge item, like Midnight Moon, and some more affordable everyday items, like the ham and cheddar on a baguette for $7.50.
“Maybe you only splurge once a week on a $14 lunch and the rest of the time you’re under $10,” Corbo said.
Currently every counter has a grab and go item like premade sandwiches, tartines (a hearty slice of multigrain bread topped with avocado or salmon), and poke bowls. Corbo said there is demand from the metroburb community to offer more typical cafeteria fare and so the chefs plan to expand their sandwich offerings and add grab-and-go salads.
Bell Market’s seasonal tartine topped with goat cheese and butternut squash.
Bubz Deli and Honeybell bakery both offer breakfast items like egg sandwiches, pastries, yogurt bowls and oat cups, and of course, coffee. Depending on your taste, breakfast can cost anywhere between $4-$7. Download the menu from google.
“Bell Market should be a social house that people come to and can experience whatever they want to experience. If you want to grab a roll and run, or if you want to sit down to talk to me about a $100 bottle of sake, you can do that,” Spencer said. “We designed this place so the customer can have the experience that they want to have.”
Ingredients from local farms, mills and fisheries
What the chefs aren’t willing to budge on is the higher quality of ingredients they use as compared to a typical fast casual restaurant. Here the spicy tuna hand rolls feature tuna that was likely swimming off the Jersey Shore that morning. Chef Spencer sources all his fish from Local 130, of Asbury Park.
Chef Chad uses locally sourced fish from Asbury Park for his hand rolls.
In the on-site bakery, pastry chef Jeff Systma and his team bake all the baguettes, bagels and sandwich breads on-site. “We source all of our specialty grains from Fresh From Zone 7 (a New Jersey-based, 100% local farm fresh food distributor),” he said. “Our whole wheat flour, rye flour, buckwheat flour and rye berries are from Castle Valley Mill in PA. We also use King Arthur Organic Artisan Select.” Those ingredients, he says, cost more. “I could change it, but you would notice the difference.”
“The only core value that we have is quality of what we’re serving. Has to be driven by the local food economy,” Systma said.
Every Wednesday, Bell Market holds a happy hour and pizza night in coordination with the Bell Works Fresh farmers market. Adjacent to the Corbo & Sons pizza ovens is the bar where beverage director, resident sommelier and RBC partner Chantelle Corbo serves up cocktails, beer and wine that run the gamut on price, taste and provenance with everything from a $4 Miller Lite to a $10 French Rosé to accompany your pepperoni or fig and truffle honey pizza.
Stay tuned for Bell Market’s wine club where guests will be invited to taste their way through six wine stations
RBC Hospitality also provides corporate catering for meetings, lunches and events. Click to inquire.
Bell Market is open to the public every weekday with hours varying with each eatery - Broadfork Greens + Grains: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Bubz Deli: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Corbo & Sons: Monday & Friday - 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. ; Tuesday - Thursday - 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Honeybell Bakery: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Jozu: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.