Visiting Parsippany, NJ and vicinity
We are attending a wedding in early November in the Parsippany/Springfield area and have never been to New Jersey before. I have been to NYC and Brooklyn and will be spending a few days in the city after the wedding weekend.
Coming from the Pacific Northwest, is there anything chow-worthy that we must try? I'm allergic to milk, so unfortunately pizza and ice cream are out.
I live and work in Parsippany and can make the following recommendations:
Fine Italian: Il Capriccio's, Rt. 10 Eastbound, Whippany
Some of the best upscale Italian food I've ever had. A bit pricey but worth it if you 'd like excellent service, atmosphere, and food. The Osso Bucco is to die for. Extensive wine list, valet parking, full bar. Quite elegant, but business casual attire is fine.
Everyday Italian: Donnagios, New Road & Rt. 46, Parsippany
This place opened about a year ago, and I had always hesitated to try it as there were a number of mediocre pizza joints in that location prior to Donnagios. Well, this place is now on our regular rotation. Excellent pizza and sandwiches. The dinners are outstanding and large. The zuppa de pesch (seafood with pasta) is not only wonderfully tasty, but huge and of great quality. They also have some of the best "red sauce" marinara I've tasted -- and that's coming from a born-and-raised Jersey Italian-American!! Really worth the trip to experience the typical "goin' out for Italian" -- Jersey style.
Cantonese: Noodle Chu
My in-laws are Cantonese and this is the only place in the area where they will go to dine. Try to go on Sunday morning/early afternoon for the great "Dim Sum" or "Yum Cha" experience (steam carts walked around to each table with many, many different small dishes ranging from fresh vegitables, seafood, dumplings, pudding, soups, noodles, buns, etc...). Google "dim sum" if you don't know what it is... They also have excellent noodle soups, pork chops, and chow funs.
Diner: Alexis Diner, Rt. 10 Westbound, Denville
The diners on Rt. 46 in Parsippany are all okay, but Alexis really stands out in my opinion. I have always gotten top notch, fresh food here, and the service is good. Two stand outs: the Pastrami Ruben sandwich and the Gyro. Two of the best diner sandwiches available in NJ. They also have full dinner specials that include soup, sides, dessert, and coffee or tea.
White Castle: Rt. 46 Westbound, Ledgewood
OK, take my word on this one... Don't do a Mapquest or Google Maps search and find the closest White Castle. Many are in run-down and dangerous areas. Go to the one located at 1113 Rt. 46 West, Ledgewood, NJ. It's about a 20 minute drive from Parsippany, but will land you in a nice, well-lit area with other shopping nearby and the same quintessential White Castle "slider" experience. Order the #1 combo meal and you can't go wrong. Stay away from anything else but the burgers, fries, and onion rings. The other stuff may sound good or cute (ie, "Chicken Rings"), but don't waste your money.
Chicken Wings: Cluck-U Chicken - 64 Morris Street, Morristown, NJ
Here's another great, typical "Jersey" experience. This place (now a franchise) was started by a Rutgers University student back in 1985, and has some of the greatest wings in the world. They're sloppy, messy, spicy, sweet, and just plain old delicious. the place is a hole-in-the-wall, and is usually populated by college students and the typical bar crowd seeking nourishment. They have an incredible array of sauces to go on the wings ranging from mild to THERMO NUCLEAR, and "gourmet" varieties such as honey hickory, cajun, and teriyaki. If you order their hottest wings, the "911" wings, I believe they make you sign a waver before they'll serve them. Stick with a dozen "traditional" wings and you'll be more than happy.
If you have time in Springfield, you ought to visit the Wine Library- a pretty nice wine/spirits store, and I believe they sell gourmet foods.
I believe they're known for their cute 'tv' ads teaching about wine to make it understandable to the everyday man.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far. We're staying in Parsippany, wedding ceremony and reception is in Springfield. We probably need more breakfast and lunch places than dinner since the Rehearsal dinner and reception take care of two evening meals.
We will have a car. I'd love more specific suggestions for Chinese, Italian, and a good diner. Price range more moderate to cheap eats since we plan to save our pennies to eat well in Manhattan.
Also I have never been to a White Castle. Is this part of the essential New Jersey experience?
Parsippany is pretty big but with what you have in mind I would consider:
Noodle Chu in Parsippany for authentic Chinese
Eccola in Parsippany for Italian (they do some inexepensive lunch specials)
There are several good diners on Route 46 but can't remember the specific names offhand.
Haven't had White Castle since I had my wisdom teeth removed but I guess if you are looking for steamed beef it's definately worth trying.
To me the ultimate NJ eating experience is ordering an egg, cheese and taylor ham on a Kaiser roll with a little salt & pepper and ketchup for breakfast. That is NJ! Even my husband who grew up in Long Island had no idea what taylor ham was and you can't find it outside of NJ except for maybe Philly.
Hi. My suggestion would be to go to the town center of Morristown, Madison or Summit, park your car and walk around picking from a pretty good selection of restaurants. Mind you these won't be earth-shattering experiences but you will get to see how we live and why we pay the ridiculous home prices in NJ! Seriously, NJ doesn't always have the best reputation but that's coming from people who don't really "know" the state. These towns are quaint and have a nice energy to them. With that said, I'm an ex-NYer and after deciding to come to the burbs I came here for these very reasons. Although previous posters gave you great recommendations it would be nice for you to see a little more then strip malls and major roadways.
In Morristown you could hit La Campagna, Grand Cafe, or Mendhi and head over to the Piano Bar for some pretty good lounge music and an after dinner drink.
In Madison you could have some nice Italian at Il Mondo Vecchio or hearty fare at the Garlic Rose and walk around and window shop. You could even peak in a see a Chinese restaurant/Jazz club which I believe is a rarity!
I shop in Summit and except for Brix 67 don't eat there that often but the town is gorgeous and if I am not mistaken Meryl Streep lives there.
For some real good food I would recommend:
Restaurant Serenade in Chatham
Chez Catherine in Westfield
Restaurant Lorena in Maplewood
Copeland in Morristown
Have fun and please report back!!
A liitle more information on the type of food you like would be helpful. Also, are you looking for fine dining, moderate or cheap eats?
I'm a Katz's fan for my Pastrami, but in Parsippany there is Harolds New York Deli. I believe one of the original owners had a relationship with The Carnegie Deli in New York, so they have the same recipes. The over-stuffed meat sandwiches are enough for two and sharing is encouraged. Not the prettiest place in a hotel, but it may be better than anything in the PNW.
There's always great Italian and Chinese in this area, from moderate to expensive
For Breakfast, on Route 10 in East Hanover one town over there is The Original Pancake House. The Dutch Baby is a signature item... and very good pancakes. I believe the original (TOPH) is from Seattle.
If your in the mood for a Delmonico Rib Eye that won't empty your wallet, there is Arthurs Steak House in Morris Plains, one town over as well. A 24 ounce steak is around $20. I believe the menu has about ten items/sandwiches for $5, such as a burger or a corned beef sandwich. The place has the local pub feel.
Dare I say, but if your a smoker, there is JR's Tobacco. advertised as the largest cigar empourium in the world. It's on Route 10 in Whippany just past The Original Pancake House. They have a nice bar and dining room where you can still smoke while you enjoy your libations or food. For $7.95 you can get the greatest cheese and fruit platter ever that will feed four easily. A great place to relax if you are a smoker.
Last, in the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany on Beverwyck Road, Pat Thai recently opened and they made the top 25 in New Jersey Monthly Magazine for the state in the Cheap Eats category.
All places can be googled for more specifics.
I normally am not a fan of buffets for the "All You Can Eat" Special. but if you are a Seafood Lover there are two higherr quality offerins in the area.
First is The Manor of West Orange, the largest private caterer in New Jersey that wins all the awards for excellence from wine to food. Tuesday through Saturday evenings they have an "All You Can Eat Lobster Estravaganza". Real Maine Lobsters, raw bar, cooked and poached fish, smoked fish salads shrimp, King Crab. as well assteamship of beef, rack of veal, chiicken and pasta offerings. Desserts that will knock your socks off. You get the idea. You must try the cream of mushroom soup. ........all for $39.95 per person. If you are a fan of lobster, you will not find a better deal anywhere.
For sushi, there is Minado in Morris Plains on Route 10. Not the best sushi you will ever have, but for less than $25 you cannot go wrong. Everything is fresh and you can also get snow crab, oysters and shrimp you do not have to peel. There is also Chinese, Korean and Japanese traditional fare. Fresh fruit, berries, ice cream, crepes and cakes for desserts.
I was eager to return to Harold's Deli last October, having really enjoyed it several years back. But there were problems: the knishes were less than good, the sandwiches just "ok; but worst of all was our rude waiter---not "rude" in the classic, NY deli tradition, but offensively insulting.
I would never go back there again.
On a brighter note, we had a wonderful Italian meal, with excellent food and service, at Il Capricchio, in Whippany.
Parsippany and Springfield aren't really that close to one another (a solid 15 miles), so it will help if you key in on where you're going to have the most free time! My guess is that if you're from the Pac NW, you'll want to hit Chinese (Noodle Chu is Cantonese in Parsippany, Chengdu 1 is Sichuan in Cedar Grove); Italian (just b/c it's NJ and you don't have to have cheese); you could have Spanish or Portuguese food in the Ironbound section of Newark (yes, really--and worth the trip); Amazing Hot Dog in Verona; good Jewish deli in Livingston, and...and...tons of suggestions can be made, but it really will help to know where you'll be, and how many meals you have to choose from!