For some, it takes years to find their passion. For Afrim Berisha, it all started from an early age.
Born and brought up in the restaurant industry, Afrim has always been passionate about food and hospitality. “My career started at a young age in my family’s restaurant. As time went on, moving up through the different roles I quickly picked up the skills required to run a restaurant.”
Berisha, who is Albanian, credits his upbringing and the influence of his cultural background on his success as a restauranteur. “Albanians are known to be very hospitable people. Service is crucial and makes all the difference in providing a memorable dining experience,” he says. “We want people to have a great time from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave.”
Berisha has opened many restaurants throughout his career, and sees no end in sight, with the promise of more to come. He is best known for the beloved Bistro Seven Three, a lively European bistro in the heart of Bernardsville. His latest venture, Toca Vez, a Mexican inspired Steakhouse, is set to open this spring.
The restaurant, which was formerly known as The Giraffe for over 20 years, and more recently Vine, was acquired by Berisha and Enjoy with Gusto, a successful hospitality group that owns multiple restaurants and hotels. Having worked together in the very early days of their respective careers, the paths of both Berisha and Mick Gjevukaj, founder of Enjoy with Gusto, find their professional paths crossing once again.
Those familiar with The Giraffe and Vine, are unlikely to recognize its new iteration: The nearly century old building has been taken down to the studs and completely renovated inside and out. Exciting new features include custom designed and built light fixtures and furniture, custom painted murals, and biophilic art installations fabricated on site. Uniquely designed bars on the lower and upper levels, and a completely redesigned exposed kitchen are just a few of the spectacular details waiting to be experienced.
At Toca Vez, Berisha says to expect to be amazed.
While the restaurant is focused on being a steakhouse with all the classic carnivorous favorites, it will also include a raw bar and offer Mexican-inspired cuisine such as ceviche, tacos, guacamole, and more. In addition, diners can enjoy libations from their tequila bar with creative, hand-crafted cocktails that extend far beyond the classic margarita, all brought to you by their mixologist whose goal is nothing short of enticing and satisfying your palette.
As you peruse the menu of Toca Vez deciding what to order, Berisha insists one thing is for certain: “From the service to the food and drinks, you’ll have an exceptional experience.”