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Jan 20, 2002 11:12 AM

Princeton/Hamilton area

  • k

We are planning a May week-end to include a visit to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton and overnight probably at Nassau Inn in Princeton. Has anyone eaten at Rat's, at Grounds for Sculpture? What about recommendations for great dining in Princeton?

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  1. "What about recommendations for great dining in Princeton?"

    wherever you're coming from, buy a bunch of food, copious amounts of dry ice, and a camping stove before you leave. Then reheat in your hotel. Cuz that's the best you're going to do (without driving a half hour to New Brunswick, Trenton, or Philly).

    See copious previous postings further down this board (load the whole index then use your browser's search function) where many of us do our best to figure out a solution to this, the ultimate chowhound's Rubik's Cube. I just did a quick scan, and see someone's at least claimed to have found something edible....take a look and vet it through your chowhound intuition...


    7 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      I'm comin' from Philly! Could handle dinner in Trenton or New Brunwsick if it's worth the extra travel -- any suggestions?

      1. re: Karen

        I don't know much about Trenton...see postings on this board (and on tristate) or use our search engine (though it may be a frustrating's semi-broken). there are rumored to be some good ital and mex places there.

        wait, hold on, here are two tips I've horded away re: trenton. I've never tried either of 'em myself:

        Trenton: CHESTERS FRIED CHICKEN & RIBS 811 Stuyvesant Ave. 609-599-2702

        Trenton: De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies 530 Hudson St (609) 695-9534 Great "tomato pies". Top notch sausage, pepperoni, great crust.

        new brunswick's got a couple of Oaxacan places (Restaurante El Oaxaqueno 2 260 Drift Street, 732- 545-6869 and Tacqueria El Poblano 202 New st 732-937-9722), but unless you're real curious about this rare cuisine, I'm not sure you'd find them worth a drive so out of your way. real good pizza nearby in Highland Park (highland park pizza). also some potentially great korean near highland park and a legendary cheeseburger place, but those are works-in-progress for me, I don't have any sort of exact coordinates.

        I really like the pizza at Attilio's Pizza, and it's on the Princeton side of things on rt 1, west side, at Georges Road (rt 171) next to Barnes and Noble maybe 3 miles south of NJ tpk. exit 9. But it's just really good old fashioned shopping center pizza, not worth a trip. Good beer at Old Bay, but don't think of eating food.

        all in in philly.

        wait, one other new brunswick tip (untried by me): Aranka's Hungarian on rte 27 W of new brunswick. classic Hungarian , paprikas either chicken or veal. The stuffed cabbage is great and can be had as an appetizer. rolled filled cookies. palacinta moderate prices


        1. re: Jim Leff

          DeLorenzo's has great pizza, but as I recall, usually a line on weekends. Mario on East State Street in Hamilton is also excellent, though better to take out than eat in.

          Marsilio's in Trenton is REALLY good, as someone already pointed out.

          I have to disagree with Jim about the lack of decent food in Princeton, though. (If they are still there) Hoagie Haven makes the best hoagie in NJ.

          Now, it's been a long time, so they might have gone downhill (they've definitely lost the college charm they once had) but PJ's on Nassau St always made good pancakes.

          And if you are in the mood for ice cream, Halo Pub in Palmer Square is really good (though the one on Rte 33 in Hamilton was a lot cuter and less crowded).

          Hamilton also has Heinz's, which isn't exactly brimming with atmosphere, but makes good German food.

          1. re: Paulette

            There is good japanese in Princeton now, the new place that opened on Chambers St. next to Masala Grill (which i hear makes people sick alot). The chef trained at Nobu and was kind enough to bring the Nobu classic yellowtail jalapeno dish back for us!

            1. re: Paulette

              I have to say I tried Heinz's once and never went back. The food was cold and bland (and I *love* bavarian food and can take almost anything). Really depressing atmosphere with mirrors everywhere and weird colour scheme. And no music? Maybe I went on an off day.
              A new restaurant opened on Rte 33 in Hamilton that I think is great and not too expensive: Chapala's Mexican Restaurant. Their steak soft tacos (with a tasty and genuinely hot Salsa de Arbol) is the way to go.
              Local secret -- Halo Pub ice cream is fab, and you can buy it at the source at Halo Farm!

        2. re: Jim Leff

          That would be me. I actually thought that a certain Indian rest in Princeton (called Kouliri's Corner-not the exact spelling) was excellent, which it was for the 1st 3 months, until they murdered the chef, or decided to stop spending anything on ingrediants. 1st two trips were brilliant, the last two have been absolutely horrible, and the place is permanently ruined. Princeton, quite simply has no good high end food. None. No, there isn't any. Les Compains is radically overpriced and over ingrediented crap, as is every place on Witherspoon. The Ferry House has only one virtue--a killer creme brulee dessert. Avoid every Chinese and Japanese rest in town, they all suck. For not high end stuff, Contes pizza is a must visit. It and Mexican Village may be the only edible food in the entire town. Slightly on the edge of Princeton (on 206 as you head toward Montgomery) is a Spanish place called La Terraza or some other such Italian sounding name--order the lamb as main course and goat cheese appet. Best "high end" food in town. I have not been to Rats, though I would like to go. And Trenton has always had 2-3 superb Italian places, including the places mentioned above. Lambertville and New Hope are much richer ground for good food. Head there. Oh, Princeton does have one culinary virtue--The Corkscrew Wineshop on Hullfish is superb. Luarent loves wine (he is French). They have a careful selection, but they know their shit, and they are very, very good at almost any price range. I have yet to have anything but a superb bottle from there.

          1. re: Mao

            Laurent loves wine as long as it doesn't come from South of the Equator...

        3. Rat's will be closed for renovations until mid-March.
          Would suggest Tre Piani in one of the shopping centers
          outside Princeton or take out from Wegman's.

          1. a
            Anne Loscombe

            You seem to be looking for an upscale restaurant. In Princeton The Blue Point Grill on Nassau Street has good seafood. Ferry House and Les Copains both on Witherspoon St. are fairly good. Lahiere's also on Witherspoon St. is old line, but maybe worth a try, they have a wonderful wine cellar. Mediterra on Hullfish St and Teresa's Cafe are quite casual but quite good.

            1. Karen,

              May is a perfect time to visit the Grounds for Sculpture.You will love it! (We are supporting/members and go very often.)As to your question of if we have eaten at Rat's? Yes we have. It is good. However I have to be very honest and say that in my opinion it is very overrated. Cuisine is tour de force' yet, the service lacks. For the $$$$, they should be blowing everyone away in every category. Sorry no four stars from me. For the Princeton area take a look at The Ferry House, Mediterra, and the Blue Point Grill. Lastly, since you will so nearby, think about Trenton. I would recommend a great place called Marsilio's (in Trenton's Italian section called Chambersburg). From the GFS, you are about a mile or two away. It is a great place that I consider the best reasturant in Trenton. It never disappoints. Reservations are usually needed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: E

                Completely agree. Food was just okay and we had horrible service. Waiter spent whole time talking to people at next table. Half the specials were not available (and were there early for dinner). Only had 1/3 cup of luke warm coffee available at dessert and was suppose to come back with a new brewed pot but never did.

                Went to a wedding there. Cocktail hr h'ors doeurves were dry, bland. Entrees were okay. I understand price/person was $$$$! way overpriced.

              2. I hate to be repetitious, but having just discovered Marsilio's in Trenton, I want to give it another plug! It's great. Some of the best veal I have eaten (I can't believe that something as pedestrian as veal parm could taste so special). And there are lots of fancier dishes on the menu (if you go, ask for the front room) and when they bring the bread, be sure to ask for the olive oil (it's a roasted garlic oil that is unbelievable). Service is friendly, the background music is Frank Sinatra. I may never go to another Italian restaurant in Trenton since visiting this one.