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Looking for a unique dining experience to celebrate a 70th b'day in Northern NJ (Bergen/Passaic County)

Hi Everyone:

Hoping someone can help me out. I'm looking for a place to take my dad for his 70th b'day. Anywhere in Passaic/Bergen County would be great.

I was thinking of something along the lines of a tastings menu or tapas where you choose a bunch of different plates to share.

Very open to any suggestions. He loves seafood too. Price point is up to $30 a plate.

Are there any unique/special restaurants that you would suggest?

Thanks so much!

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  1. Consider Axia Taverna in Tenafly.


    AXIA Taverna
    18 Piermont Rd, Tenafly, NJ 07670

    1. I was about to say Cafe Matisse, but I'm not sure all their mains would meet your price point. they are a byo, however.

      Cafe Matisse
      167 Park Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

      1. my suggestion: Nisi Estuario in Englewood...still not BYO, but fabulous upscale greek with the most amazing octopus I've ever eaten ($16)...Depending on how much you drink, you could get a variety of starters for under 30 bucks a head.

        Nisi Estiatorio
        90 Grand Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631


          3 Replies
          1. re: foodismylife

            While Axia and Nisi are great they are both kind of pricey.
            I saw Tapas De Espana in Englewood suggested in another thread and I think that would be a great suggestion for this poster as well.

            AXIA Taverna
            18 Piermont Rd, Tenafly, NJ 07670

            Tapas De Espana
            7909 Bergenline Ave, North Bergen, NJ 07047

            1. re: NJfoodLover

              ---if the food was better at Tapas, I'd agree...but by experience, I have to say it's mediocre at best (sadly)...wish there was a spanish restaurant in the area that didn't specialize in MORE FOOD IS GOOD FOOD, but rather good food is good food....found this article on the Orange Squirrel in the Nytimes in Bloomfield interesting though cannot personally vouch.


              1. re: sixelagogo

                Haven't been, but even that NYT article shows how $$$ the Orange Squirrel is. The OP was also considering Fascino in Montclair, which is (based on what I know about the OS) far bigger bang for the buck (including atmosphere) than the Orange Squirrel.

                331 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, NJ 07042

          2. Will all due respect, I don't think any of the restaurants mentioned are at all "unique". Slim pickins for that category in NJ, IMHO. There are some nice restaurants mentioned, but they are pretty straightforward and typical of restaurants.

            There is a nice place that comes to mind on Dean Street, Akai Lounge, that for one has a unique environment, a deep red color scheme with art and soothing music. Of course, there's the non-unique sushi available, but there are lots of menu items not seen elsewhere very often.

            An interesting meld of Japanese and Latino flavors in lots of dishes! Tuna Guacamole, Tuna Cado, Yellowtail Jalopeno as examples. Ice Cream Tempura, fried ice cream, is another unique dish.

            Lots of seafood choices here.
            If you and your dad are flexible, this restaurant could be an out-of-the-ordinary very unique experience.

            Akai Lounge
            11 North Dean St

            Akai Lounge
            11 N Dean St, Englewood, NJ 07631

            7 Replies
            1. re: menton1

              Fried ice cream is a unique dish? I don't think so. If you went to any Mexican chain restaurant since the early 80's, this item was on every menu.....including El Torito and Chi Chi's....which were both in our area. Fried ice cream is also many Thai restaurant menus as well. Most recipes call for the ice cream to be rolled in nuts, granola or corn flakes.......tempura batter? Not very interesting if you ask me,


              It may be rare to find them on the menu at your favorite restaurants.....but fried ice cream is hardly unique.

              1. re: fourunder

                Yeah, but Axia is very unique. Can't have food or an experience like that anywhere within 500 miles of Axia.

                1. re: menton1

                  except maybe 3 miles down the road at Nisi's (my vote)

                  1. re: sixelagogo

                    I guess he feels Axia as being great, awesome, very very good, inventive, perfection and divine........but it does not qualify as unique.


                  2. re: menton1

                    menton, you are correct......

                    Tuna tartare with avocado is sold all over, no, not very unique......but add a little garlic, chili seasoning and salt to the avocado and mash it up, then it becomes unique. Yellowtail Jalopeno must be unique......

                    btw, what's a Jalopeno?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      we get it. you are both masters of taste. can we move on?

                      1. re: tommy


                        This is funny coming from you after your dialogue and exchange on the Italian Hero thread.....


              2. Axia and Nisi are both wonderful restaurants. They are both a bit more pricey than $30 a person though which is what the original poster was looking to spend. While niether is exceptionally unique I would say they are "Special" enough for birthday dinner.

                Since we don't really have a lot of small plates/ tapas restaurants in the area a nice way to "fake it" is just to order a bunch of appetizers and share. If you do this you could keep costs down even at some of the more expensive restaurants.

                AXIA Taverna
                18 Piermont Rd, Tenafly, NJ 07670

                2 Replies
                1. re: NJfoodLover

                  They are both a bit more pricey than $30 a person though which is what the original poster was looking to spend.


                  $30 per plate is not the same as $30 per person.....


                  1. re: fourunder

                    I do know that but actually didn't realize the original poster said plate not person.
                    Thank you so much for clearing that up for me. I don't know we would do here without you.