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favorite restaurant in nj

List your favorite restaurant for food and service and why!!Thank you

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  1. Jimmy Buff's East Hanover. I love hot dogs and they are the originator of the Newark style Italian Hot Dog. They also serve a great natural casing beef dog.

    1. Highland Pavilion, because of the view of my favorite place in the world -- NYC --, and the service, and food is very good too... :) Honorable mention to IL Casetello's in Woodbridge, for the food & service and China Cafe Chinese takeout, because Rikki makes the best ribs.

      1. Amanda's in Hoboken. The food is outstanding, the setting is charming (two converted brownstones), and the owners/hosts, Joyce and Eugene Flinn, make you feel like a guest in their home.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ttoommyy

          I'll put Amanda's up there, we had our rehearsal dinner there as well and I have always enjoyed my meals there. I recently dined at Su in Edgewater. It's a vegetarian place and was very good, it will make my rotation even though I am by no means a vegetarian.
          I used to love Ox in Jersey City but sadly it has closed.

          1. re: roro1831

            I'm laughing about these posts about Amanda's in Hoboken because that is the restaurant I started writing about, and then decided to delete what I had written (see my post above from 4/26/10) because I have not been back there since 1995, and was not certain how it has held up over the years. Glad to see Amanda's has a more current following, and that other people consider it a special place. Amanda's will always be one of my favorite restaurants because of memories of special occassion, romantic meals there with my wife (way back when we were young....and occassionally romantic). I don't recall specifics about the food so much as the wonderful, intimate atmosphere, however the food must have been very good too or else we would not have gone there the many times we did.

            1. re: Forklaw

              How funny! You must go back Forklaw. While the original building is still part of the restaurant, they bought the building next door and broke through the wall to expand. The "newer" side is not as intimate, but it is still very nice. Plus they have a wine cellar room downstairs to accommodate bigger parties. If you were to go back and craved the intimate setting you loved, you could certainly request a table in the "older" section.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                Thanks. Like most of Hoboken nowadays, I probably won't even recognize the old place.

          2. re: ttoommyy

            Yes...excellent choice...also on my short-list of favorites...haven't been in a long time and would really like to get back there soon...Thanks.

          3. The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield.

            1. blackbird in collingswood, had a very sentimental evening with a certain girl there. it was during SJ restaurant week 2005, amazing prix-fixe 3 course deal, nothing an afterthought. had the ethereal, highly-touted gnocchi, pernod-flavored thin scallop, crab and green apple compote app, braised rabbit with polenta for dinner. brought a bottle of conundrum, excellent wine service from waiter that acheived nearly indescribable balance of professionalism and effortless, casual table attention. immaculately informal is not quite the correct phrase, still searching for it. chef alex capasso's restaurant that night still stands out as the best dining experience i've had in NJ, so blackbird gets my nod for statewide fav.

              2 Replies
              1. re: longbranchgourmet

                LBG, nice note, we have enjoyed many excellent meals at Blackbird.

                1. re: tom246

                  Alex Capasso is opening another restaurant, this one right in Collingswood downtown. Not off the beaten path as Blackbird is. I can't remember the name, and it hasn't opened as of yet. It appears they are working on the space presently; I believe it will be a more casual style restaurant.

              2. Having grown up in jersey, my favorites are the ones that to me feel deeply jersey.

                Not the swankiest or the sexiest, but I love and will always love The Ritz Diner in Livingston. They have the best chocolate babka, and it's miami-colored interior design fill my heart with glee. Everything they serve is good, and a couple items are really great.

                I love PJs Pancake House in Princeton. Really among the best pancakes I've ever had.

                And, finally, I love Cheng Du 46. Really great food there. And its on a charmless stretch of Rt 46, which I think is half its charm.


                Ritz Diner
                72 E Mount Pleasant Ave, Livingston, NJ 07039

                1. Oh my, so many. but top of the list is Stage Left in New Brunswick. Great food, and fabulous service. And for me, their service is what puts them on the top of the list. I've had great meals that compare elsewhere, but the service is always top notch.

                  And I think one of my favorite places will always be Tumulty's Pub also in New Brunswick. Much more on the casual route, but one of my favorite burgers, and I'm addicted to their honey mustard dressing. I've been going there for over 15 years, and am always happy. Service is good, even with the constant changeovers in waitstaff (university town, so always a new crop) but they are trained well and the owners/managers are so nice.

                  Stage Left
                  5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

                  Tumulty's Pub
                  361 George St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mickeygee

                    My first visit to Tumulty's was in 1976, nice to see that they are still going strong after all these years...

                    1. re: mickeygee

                      Tumulty's!!! Classic place. I used to hang out there in my college -- and yes, high school -- days. LOL. Just a very casual, comfortable place, back in the day it wasn't some rowdy college kids kind of place. Not at all. Excellent burgers, a couple of pretty good sandwiches, salads, etc.

                      I've been there once or twice, maybe about 5 years ago...and I will be going back soon!!! Thanks.

                      1. re: ELA

                        Hmmmmm was a hang out of mine during high school and college years as well. (I have to say college years, since I didn't attend a college) I use to be able to get served there while in high school, hanging out downstairs. Last time I was there was about 10 years ago when I had to be in court on business, do they still have the trains? They did the last time I was there.

                        Dare I ask where you went to HS ELA? I went to Bishop Ahr, born and raised in Edison.

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          I too was able to get served there when I was in HS...hence, we went! LOL. I don't remember the trains...far too long ago, LOL.

                          I went to HS right down the road on Easton Avenue...that should give you a good/big enough hint. LOL.

                    2. My favorite all around restaurant is The Saddle River Inn in Upper Saddle River. The servce and food are always outstanding. The waiters don't hover over you asking you if you need anything every 5 minutes, but they do watch your table and can tell if you want something.
                      And the food, never had a disappointing meal there in the 20 years I've been going.

                      For Chinese I like Chengdu 46 in Clifton. None better.

                      For Italian I like Cafe L'Amore in Oakland. Great pizza, and well made, interesting pasta dishes.

                      Saddle River Inn
                      2 Barnstable Ct, Saddle River, NJ 07458

                      Chengdu 46
                      1105 US Highway 46, Clifton, NJ 07013

                      1. For me it's the classic gem: Nicholas in Red Bank.
                        Superior in every way.

                        1. Daniel's Bistro in Point Pleasant Beach is hard to top.

                          Daniel's Bistro
                          115 Broadway, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742

                          1. I'm thinking Bay Ave Trotteria in Highlands, Ama in Atlantic Highlands, and Yumi in Sea Bright. Can't go wrong any night at any of these three.

                            1120 Ocean Ave, Sea Bright, NJ 07760

                            1. How disappointing! I post this short review in this thread as Casa Solar WAS one of our favorite places in NJ. Went back last night to experience Nancy's wonderful food. Alas, it was not to be. Along with the usual very very slow service, the food that usually comes out fresh and very tasty, was basically bland and MEH, for lack of a better word. Apps took 45 minutes to come out of the kitchen, and the main courses another 30 after that. Now we don't mind lingering, if at least someone came by and refilled our water, or said that the kitchen was running slower than normal....but we sat, and we sat and we sat. And when the food came out, MEH was the word. Have to tell you we went to Strollo's for Italian Ice afterwards, and both agreed that it was better than dinner at a less than good old favorite, Casa Solar. It's seems that a once prideful chef, has sold out and is making more commercial food for the masses. Too bad! IMHO of course.

                              Casa Solar
                              1104 Main St, Belmar, NJ 07719

                              1. I like E&V...classic Italian food place. There are some dishes I think are very good, far better than most red-sauce joints, and there are others which are "good" -- not excellent or anything of the like, but the food IMO is always "better than most" and better than average places. Strong following, been around a long time...they must be doing something right, LOL.

                                1. A lot of good restaurants listed here...thanks...I agree with many of them...

                                  Depending on what I am looking for, mood, company, etc. -- I have a favorite or two in many categories...

                                  A few on my list...Hiram's (Fort Lee), Jimmy Buff's (E. Hanover), Savini (Allendale), Masago (Ridgewood), Fink's (Dumont), Kosher Nosh (Glen Rock), Saddle River Inn (Saddle River), Cafe Panache (Ramsey), St. Eve's (Ho Ho Kus), The Manor (W. Orange), Rebecca's (Edgewater), Chef Vola's (Atlantic City), River Palm (Edgewater), Assembly (Englewood Cliffs), Rudy's (Cliffside Park), and I am sure there are many others...

                                  Thanks again for the excellent posts...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ELA

                                    Want to add Tommy's (Elizabeth)...just had an Italian Hot Dog recently...and the potatoes were excellent. Good "pizza" bread, and overall an excellent Italian Hot Dog...of course I had to get some sausage too. LOL.

                                  2. Fricassee in Montclair (French bistro, one of the best inside or outside of NYC). Chengdu 23 in Wayne--excellent Szechuan.

                                    1. I just can't pick ONE--sorry! I've whittled it down to my true go-tos:

                                      Blu and Next Door (same chef/owner)
                                      Chengdu 23 and Chengdu 1

                                      All of these restaurants excel at the food they put out, their staff is helpful, the prices beyond reasonable, and with the exception of Porta, they're BYO. I always say I prefer a small place (often ethnic) with fantastic food over a place with $30 entrees, overpriced wine/cocktails, and a pretentious vibe.

                                      1. Based on my dining experiences this past year, I'd have to say the Pluckemin Inn wins for me.

                                        1. This is a very difficult thread for me to comment on...the more I think about it, sadly, I realize I really don't have ANY favorite restaurant in NJ.

                                          Not since the day La Fontana closed it's doors in New Brunswick was there one restaurant that embodied quality food, presentation and service all under one indulgent roof.

                                          Most recently The Raven and Peach in Little Silver was, was, my favorite restaurant....but a string of recent let downs in both food and service has taken that off the top of my list. It is still my absolute favorite for ambiance.......I truly love the decor of the place, but as stated both food quality and service has been questionable lately.

                                          For sheer good comfort food, never in 20+ years a bad meal, it would have to be Jimmy's in Asbury Park. There is NOTHING cutting edge about this place, but the food is always excellent always consistent. As comfortable and cozy as sitting on your Aunt's living room couch, with the plastic covered cushions of the 70's, in the middle of July with no A/C, you still can't resist the draw of the food.

                                          The Highlawn Pavilion has remained a favorite of mine over the years and I just don't get there as much as I would like. That view is just breathtaking and it took me at least my first 3 or 4 visits to be convinced the birds on the ceiling were actually painted and not real. lol The problem is if I'm going that far north, the draw of NY is just too much for me to resist, so I just go into NY. I've got to get back there.

                                          Nicholas in Middletown is the local home town hero, but unlike many of you, I remain completely under impressed. Perhaps it was too much too soon, when it opened I went there a lot, and was always underwhelmed by the menu (too eclectic for me...and portion size, well......) I still go every now and then to the bar and have a meal.....but I dunno, just not my cup of tea.

                                          Char in Raritan was a NJ favorite of mine for a long time. Then Red Bank opened and I've lost all respect for them. Sorry.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            Have you been to Lorena's in Maplewood? Elements in Princeton? At The Pass in Rosemont? Serenade in Chatham? The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield? 30 Acres in Jersey City?

                                            1. re: coldbeer

                                              No.......no.......let me think,,,,,no........um no.......no....and no. But thanks for the "to do" list now.

                                          2. Ama in Sea Bright
                                            Yumi in Sea Bright
                                            Drews Bayshore Bistro in Keyport

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: J M S

                                              Is this the new incarnation of AMA you're referring to, or the one with Chef Pat Trama and Laura? There is no comparison between old and new unfortunately.

                                              1. re: sockster

                                                Sockster, you've been to the "new" AMA? Did I miss a review?

                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                  Didn't write it up here. It's on Trip Advisor if you'd like to read it.

                                                  1. re: sockster

                                                    If you don't mind me asking why didn't you share it here?

                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                      It just isn't my favorite restaurant anymore. This thread is for that, isn't it?

                                                      1. re: sockster

                                                        Curiosity got the best of me and I went to trip adviser to read it. I noticed you weren't even the first person to express their disappointment in the new place, which isn't a surprise to me. Although I have never been to either AMA it is my understanding the place WAS Chef Pat, everything was his creation.....it's very hard to replicate that. Stavola should just re-brand the place, keep the name if they want but scrap the menu and go in another direction so people's expectations aren't still set to the old. It's easier to satisfy someone if they don't have an expectation, rather than try to live up to expectations set by someone else.

                                                        Anywho....thanks for sharing but I do have to admit it wasn't the same having to go there and read the review. You know kind of like when you got your older brothers clothes, hand me downs, sure they are new to you, but you know they have been worn before.

                                            2. With chef/owner Claude in the kitchen and his lovely wife Dolores in the front, Chefs Table in Franklin Lakes is the best. Classic French food done right. I know they are looking to retire and wish them the best

                                              1. Berta's Chateau...ambiance, food, etc. And the first date I had with someone special

                                                1. Bunny's in South Orange for their thin crust pizza. They don't get enough press IMO.