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Looking for Something Different in Union County NJ

I feel like we've been everywhere in Union County. Obviously, we haven't. My husband's birthday is this weekend and I'm looking to take him someplace new. Doesn't have to be upscale, infact, I'd prefer that we don't make a big deal out of it since the next day we have to be at a family gathering which will be on the fancy side.

We would consider going out of the County, if it isn't too far out.

We eat everything, except he doesn't eat seafood - so please don't suggest sushi :-) We've also eaten at every single restaurant in Westfield many times over, so all of them are out. All ethnic foods are a possibily other than japanese for the aforementioned reason.

Oh and no Italian - that's the party the next day :-)

I guess we're hoping for some hidden gem. Someplace we've passed by and forgotten about or didn't notice was there before. Like the other night when we suddenly remembered there was a Turkish restaurant in Summit we'd never tried. Can't remember the name now, but we had a very nice mezze, with stuffed grape leaves flavored like none we'd every had before.

Sorry for rambling, but you all know how it is when you're looking for something new, in a place you've lived for a long time. Challenging is the word which comes to mind.

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  1. Hi sivyaleah! What about Pithera Taverna in Highland Park? I know you said Union County, but I am still thinking!!! :) It is the new Greek place..I wrote a post about it recently.

    Or, I have not been but many people have said wonderful things about it...Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport. (Cajun food.)

    I absolutely love Le Rendevous in Kenilworth. :) yum!

    ok, I am still thinking...I will post if I think of more :)

    Otherwise, enjoy and have a great time!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Angelina

      Wow, there's cajun someplace close by? I'm stunned! Thanks for that suggestion. Pithera sounds feasible too - we love Greek food and I do remember you mentioning it before.

      Le Rendevous has also been mentioned before, that's one nearby we do keep forgetting about, but perhaps a bit too fancy this time?

      I'm going to look all of them up - all good possibilities. Thanks for the suggestions :-)

      1. re: Angelina

        A, Le Rendevous is my new fav place!

        1. re: HillJ

          Merci...:) I love the place, too!

      2. My first thought is Lorena's, in Maplewood (Essex County). It's doubtful you can get a reservation this Saturday, but it's definitely worth a try. Sunday would be a much better bet. Of course, if you've already been...? (BYO)

        http://www.restaurantlorena.com

        Verjus is another good option in Maplewood. The food, though not the high caliber of Lorena's, is quite good. They have a liquor license.

        http://www.verjusrestaurant.com

        Highland Park has several very good ethnic possibilities:

        Seven Hills of Istanbul - http://www.7hillsofistanbul.com/index...

        Pithari Taverna is just two months old and already very popular. http://www.pitharitaverna.com

        Shanghai Park has some of *the* best! soup dumplings. 230 Raritan Av., Tel.: 732-247-8813

        All are BYO

        In New Brunswick, I've not been to Piquant Bread Bar and Grill, but have heard some good things about the Indian food served there. 349A George St., Tel.: 732-246-2468. BYO.

        Finally, the only relatively new place that springs to mind in Union County is Rio22, the cavernous space that has been turned into a Brazilian rodizio and sushi bar. (Obviously, forget the latter.)

        http://www.rio22.net

        Best birthday wishes to your husband. :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: RGR

          Pithari is really appealing to both of us. We've been searching for Greek food and Highland Park might not be too far to drive, I'll have to check mapquest. Seven Hills is a good choice too, but we had Turkish last weekend - but I'm glad you reminded me of it, as I remember reading good things here about it a while ago.

          We know about Rio22 and have only heard poor reviews so far. The menu looks unappealing actually. Really odd concept. Both of us have no desire to try it. We're both not too big on the riodizio aspect either, not being into gorging ourselves into oblivion. My brother keeps talking about giving it a go so I'm going to wait and see what he has to say about it first.

        2. http://www.bayshorebistro.com/

          Here is the website. Like I said, I have not been, but the menu looks really good!! Le Rendezvous is really nice, and not too fancy. The owner Philip is so welcoming and friendly. We have dined there before on "casual days" not really dressed up much. (Just for your information :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Angelina

            For whatever reason, your post didn't show when I posted mine. In any event, Drew's is a terrific suggestion though it is further from Union County than the other restaurants you and I have suggested. The Cajun/Creole-inspired cuisine is delicious, and portions are *very* generous. Also, Drew is a honey of a guy.

            1. re: RGR

              Keyport isn't that far, we're at the tip of Union County - although the menu is a bit heavy on seafood - not good for my hubby but I'll be keeping that one in mind for another day, his birthday might not be the best time to try it, since I'd rather cater to his tastes. He does like cajun - but the menu seems somewhat on the small side, so I'd rather go someplace where I'm assured there will be something he'll enjoy.

          2. Angelina/RGR, what is the atmosphere at Pithari? I assume very lowkey? Do they take reservations? I kind of assume not on that account too. You mentioned they've become quite popular, so I guess getting there earlier over later is better? We're leaning very heavily to driving out there - it's only 5 exits from where we live - not a huge big deal to us. The menu looks fantastic :-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: sivyaleah

              Very casual. You can also buy wine next door because they own the store. Amethystos is my favorite. $22..either Cabernet or Chardonnay. I am not sure about reservations, but I would eat there early on a Sat. night because some people make it a huge dinning even and stay for hours..(Don't you just hate that?)

              Birthday wishes to yor husband :)

            2. I have been lax about posting a review of our first meal at Pithari last week. As Angelina said, it is very casual with taverna-style decor in traditional blue and white. When we called to make a reservation for around 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, we were told none was necessary. When we arrived, the place was about 3/4 full, and by the time we left, only 2 tables were vacant. Many NJ restaurants can only dream of that level of patronage mid-week. There's no way you'd find me and my husband there on a weekend because it sounds as though it's a zoo.