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Celebratory eating in PA and NJ?

matermagna Jul 26, 2007 01:22 PM

After two years apart while I've been in grad school, I'm finally moving from Connecticut to join my husband in Collingswood, NJ. We're planning on celebrating with vacation from August 7-14, staying close to home but seeing the sights (and eating the good eats) in and around Philly, Collingswood and Sea Isle City (where we'll stay for about 5 days of our vacation.) We have adventurous palates, a limited budget, and a good chunk of time to see and do some fun stuff. We are willing to drive for food, especially if it coincides with a neat place or local event. We've done some research, but suggestions for things to do, places to visit, and especially places to eat are most welcome. We will celebrate our first wedding anniversary on August 12 in Sea Isle, so any recommendations for romance-ready Jersey shore restaurants would be welcome, too!

  1. d
    DaisyM Jul 26, 2007 01:28 PM

    First of all, congratulations. Lacroix for sunday brunch is fantastic and very special. It is at The Rittenhouse (hotel) in center city Philadelphia. The Franklin Fountain has amazing ice cream in a very fun setting. Lots of fun to sit outside and then walk around old city. Amada for tapas and Divan for wonderful Turkish food. Also, a trip to the Italian Market area in South Philadelphia would be fun. Get lots of delicious things for a picnic or to take home.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DaisyM
      matermagna Jul 26, 2007 01:40 PM

      Thank you! All these suggestions sound like places we'd enjoy--especially the trip to the Italian Market! And it's been a long time since I've had a good brunch; all the decent brunch places in New Haven are lines-out-the-door on the weekends.

      Our first romantic date was at a Japanese-French fusion place in Michigan, an experience we somewhat replicated at a similar restaurant in Houston the night we got engaged. Are any of your favorite Philly spots Japanese-French fusion?

      1. re: matermagna
        The Megadon Jul 26, 2007 02:36 PM

        Philly has awesome restaurants in general. The above restaurants are all noteworthy, so enjoy! I understand the cheap eats deal, so I'll try to incorporate the $ system:
        Vietnam - Vietnamese Food - $ <get the Lemongrass martini!>
        Monks - European/Belgium Food, I personally go for the beer selection - $$ (same token, check out Euology in Olde City, equally good food and even MORE beer)
        Shiroi Hana - excellent sushi...not French fusion though, $$
        Tangerine - romantic little lounge, PRICEY, but the food and drink, as well as the service are awesome - $$$
        Anjou - this is Japanese/French fusion and very good, but a little pricey for what you get - $$$
        D'Angelo's - incredible Italian food, expensive, and the restaurant needs to be COMPLETELY renovated, but you won't find better service and I have never had a bad meal there. I do hear about it becoming a mafia dance club at night??? <been there late...never seen it>.
        Spasso is supposed to be JUST as good, and cheaper...so might be worth a shot <out waitress at D'Angelo's recommended it after we paid some serious cash for mussels...>
        El Azteca - the cheapest, heaviest BYOT Mexican restaurant...so good...I have never had a bad meal but the portions are huge and you feel obligated to eat everything. Some people think it's low class, but it's cheap, gets packed at night, they light candles, and it is so much fun, either for a date or a group of people. If you feel like paying a ton of cash for Mexican, go to Tequila's on Locust.
        In Jersey -
        Check out Tutti Toscani...incredible BYO and cheap...Italian...duh. SO romantic - sit outside with the torches...it's lovely.
        Barone's - another slightly bit more expensive Italian - BYO
        Mikado - sushi/hibachi - off of Route 38 in Moorestown, very good and reasonable.

        Enjoy you two love birds! My husband and I frequent all of these places and we celebrate our 1 year 11.18.2007 - Congratulations!

        1. re: The Megadon
          matermagna Jul 28, 2007 03:11 PM

          Thank you for these recommendations! After my exile in Connecticut, I am so ready for some good Vietnamese food. Thanks also for the good first anniversary wishes--congrats to you "first years" too!

    2. mschow Jul 28, 2007 05:56 PM

      Collingswood has had a renaissance in the last several years, and has become quite the restaurant town. Be aware that most of the area around Collingswood (including it) is dry, so all restaurants are BYOB. I'm sure your husband is aware of the many choices in Collingswood, so I won't bore you.
      For French/Thai fusion, Siris on Route 70 in Cherry Hill.
      For fantastic sushi, Fuji in Haddonfield.
      Inexpensive and very casual Vietnamese: Pho Eden in Cherry Hill (Vietnam in the city is better, imo, but they have great pho here)
      Little Thai Kitchen in Cherry Hill for Thai
      I had dinner tonight at Tutti Toscana, it's a favorite for casual Italian.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mschow
        matermagna Aug 5, 2007 09:42 AM

        We are huge fans of casual and inexpensive Vietnamese ... it's something we've missed since we left Houston. Thanks!

        1. re: matermagna
          mschow Aug 5, 2007 04:55 PM

          I lived in Houston as well, for several years. GREAT Vietnamese and Chinese. And BBQ! Terrible Italian food.
          You are not likely to find great Chinese in S. Jersey. I still miss a place on Post Oak Blvd in Houston (right near the Galleria), that had the best dumplings I have ever had in my life.
          There aren't many Vietnamese restaurants in S. Jersey. Pho Eden is the best. BTW: don't bother with the summer rolls. Tried them Friday night and they were mostly vermicelli. Great spring rolls, though.
          You'll get your fill of good to excellent Italian, however. There are also good Japanese restaurants that will be minutes from your new home. One was just written up today in the Inquirer, Fuji, and it is likely the best sushi in the Philadelphia area. It's in Haddonfield. Let me know if you have any other questions; I live in your area.

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