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May 31, 2011 09:59 AM

My Favorites List - Union, Essex County mostly

Best Thai that I've found - Bloomfield

Brookside Thai Restaurant
380 Broad Street, Bloomfield, NJ 07003

(973) 566-0057

Not "regular" Thai, more like traditional cooking, a more gourmet sensibility.

Folks might know places that are even better than this, but this is the best one I've ever come across...


Crepes! - Montclair

Bonjour Montclair
254 Park St,
Montclair, NJ
(973) 655-1300

has sweet and savory crepes...and a bunch of other wonderful stuff too!



Fast Food - Gyros, Union County

Galloping Hill Grill
325 Chestnut St
Union, NJ 07083
(908) 686-2683


Best Israeli - Elizabeth, NJ - Union Co.

Jerusalem Pizza
150 Elmora Ave # B,
Elizabeth, NJ - (908) 289-0291

Falafel is very good, pizza, all vegetarian and Kosher as well

but it is the best baba ganoush and humus I've ever had - anywhere


Excellent Deli - Montclair, NJ, Essex County

Alan's Avenue Deli
405 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042
(973) 744-4545

excellent sandwiches. our favorite is the turkey sloppy joes...


Just ate at the Spanish Tavern in Mountainside.

Here's their website:

Just a very nice place to have a meal. Staff is so nice, so friendly, so makes the dining experience really worthwhile.

Food is very very good. I don't know that it is 5 stars gourmet, but still very good. My gal had the lobster and was very content. I had the halibut - which was done very nicely and with a side of mashed potatoes with some basil oil...very nicely done.


Just ate at Rio 22 in Union, NJ:

This place was a real find. We live in town, just thought of trying it out. We thought we'd have a nice meal, but we were very pleasantly surprised just at how good the meal was!

Atmosphere was very nice. Staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.

I had never heard of Rodiozo before. Just wonderful.

So, you can have a hot and cold salad bar alone. That is very good. The salad bar had a better cheese, a very nice lasagna, good salad vegetables, a wonderful soup - just a bunch of very nice choices.

To that you can add the Rodiozo. They have a waiter bring you a wonderful selection of meats...

here's they way they describe it on the website:

"This South American style barbecue is called Rodizio—the Brazilian way of slow-roasting perfectly seasoned cuts of beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, ham, and Brazilian sausage on large skewers over open-flame grills. The savory cuts of meat and poultry are brought to your table and carved tableside by authentic Gaucho chefs. You may choose as many different flavors and cuts of meat as you like. Featured meats include beef rib, top sirloin, rump steak, rib-eye steak, flank steak, skirt steak, trip-tips and more."

Sometimes language is just flowery language for promotion. But this was right on. The meats were all just absolutely wonderful.

There are also sushi selections! We didn't try those this time out.

Really, just a wonderful experience.

The only downside...and I would rate this a very very tiny downside...was the music. Just a bit too loud for me. It was dance music. But it was done very tastefully, just not my personal thing. I would think that for folks in their 20's and 30's the music would only add to their enjoyment. 40's too...for most folks.

But again, just a very very nice dining experience.


Cuban Pete's - Montclair, NJ

We really had just an absolutely wonderful meal there. Atmosphere was very very nice. Decor was fun and enriching to the meal, Cuban music playing in the background was very nice. Service was very very good. Waiter was very very polite, helpful, knowledgable, friendly and professional.

Food was just absolutely spot on.

We had a mojito (a non-alcohol one, no liquor license at the place). It was very fresh and flavorful, but maybe a little too sweet. I think that may just be a personal taste thing rather than a criticism. Fresh mint leaves crushed into the drink really took it to the next level.

For the Tapas (appetizer) we had the goat cheese fritters. Very nice flavor, not over powering, just lightly fried.

For the entrees, we had the Bahama Coconut Fish - cooked just perfectly. The sweet coconut rice served with the dish was a great compliment to the dish and quite surprising that some sweet worked with a savory dish.

We also had "Ricky Ricardo's Ribs." I thought the name of the dish was a little weird, but these braised short ribs were cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious.

We had very nice espresso and the Tres Leches dessert...a wonderfuly light pound cake kind of dessert that topped off the evening just so.

Highly, highly recommend this place!


Jersey Shore (Keyport) - Amazing Fish

Locals know all about Keyport Fishery:

Dating back to 1936, these folks had a booth up at the Fulton Fish Market in NYC. That is how my Dad learned about them.

This tiny little "fried fish" shack, served just about some of the best seafood anyone has ever tasted. Scratch that. Just about the best food anyone has ever tasted. Just that good. People would literally drive down from Connecticut just to get some.

Unfortunately the original owners finally sold the place. The quality of the food dropped. But we just went back. I don't know what changed, but it is back to very very tasty stuff. Not quite what the original owners had, but still probably the best fried fish you will ever taste.

I would particularly recommend the fish cakes, the crab cakes and the scallops. The fish cakes are just about as good as they used to be. Basically, until you have eaten these, you have never eaten a fish cake. They shouldn't even call it a fish cake, because it is just something else entirely.

They also have tons of fresh fish if you want to buy.

No seating! Buy some stuff, walk across the street and eat the food sitting right by the bay, like we regulars have been doing for years (me since the mid-60's). It may not sound like gourmet, until you take that first bite of the single best scallop (fried or otherwise) you have ever tasted.


The Greek Store in Kenilworth:

Not a restaurant, an specialty grocery...

Great and varied olives, different types of fresh feta, other gourmet cheeses.

Amazing Baklava and other Greek pastries.

Has homemade dishes that they sell their own spinach pie. And even though frozen, still better than any spinach pie you would find in a diner.

Excellent food, and prices are extremely reasonable - just ask anyone who lives in the area, everyone knows this place!

Keyport Fishery
150 W Front St, Keyport, NJ

Brookside Thai Restaurant
380 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ 07003

Bonjour Montclair
254 Park St, Montclair, NJ 07043

Avenue Deli
1272 Springfield Ave, New Providence, NJ 07974

Cuban Petes
428 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042

Spanish Tavern
1239 US Highway 22, Mountainside, NJ 07092

Rio 22
2185 Route 22 West, Union, NJ 07083

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  1. Nice list, thank you for taking the time. Here are a few of mine in Essex , Passaic, Morris area.

    Thai- Bangkok Kitchen in Caldwell

    Deli- Lakeside Deli in Verona for the 'cold' sloppy Joe's

    Fast Food- Rutts Hut (then Hot Grill)

    Spanish/Portuguese- Villa Nova Solimar- Newark

    Italian- Luigi's , East Hanover, Corso 98 , Montclair (tie)

    Corso 98 Restaurant
    98 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042

    Bangkok Kitchen
    391 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell, NJ 07006

    Hot Grill
    669 Lexington Ave, Clifton, NJ 07011

    Lakeside Deli
    1878 State Route 31, Clinton, NJ 08809

    2 Replies
    1. re: bifpocaroba you know anything about Fernandes? Is it done for? I guess I mean Fernandes 2.

      1. re: coldbeer

        Their website ( ) says:

        We are currently closed!
        Due to the recent fire we are temporarily closed for renovations.
        Fernandes Night club is still operating on our regular schedule.
        We will reopen soon.
        Thank you for your patience.

    2. Spiritos - Elizabeth, best ravioli
      Glad to hear Jerusalem Pizza is still going strong. I used to go their many years ago. Ari, I believe was the owner, and Tony made the pizza way back in time. They had the best Kosher pizza too.

      Spirito's Restaurant
      714 3rd Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07202

      1. Cuban Pete's--- Very faddish! Yes, there are long waits to get in, the Panama hats on the waiters, the loud Cuban music, and the (very) overpriced and mediocre food!

        For a much more authentic experience, as well as top-notch food, service, and ambience (and prices about HALF of similar items at Cuban Pete's) go to Rumba Cubana, 75th and Broadway in North Bergen. A great and REAL Cuban restaurant!! (Gringos are welcome!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: menton1

          couldnt agree more Menton1. Was seriously disappointed with Cuban Pete's. What you say above is true, but you didnt mention the service, which is deplorable there. For Cuban I stick with La Isla in Hoboken or Casual Habana in Hackensack. However, I'm gonna try Rumba Cubana next.

          La Isla
          104 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

          Casual Habana Cafe
          125 Main St, Hackensack, NJ 07601

          Cuban Petes
          428 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042

        2. My favorite for Thai food is Topaz on Washington Belleville.

          1. Brookside Thai is great. They also have some impressive newer competition from Boonsong, up the street a couple of miles, at 1040 N. Broad St. in Bloomfield.

            Boonsong has outstanding crispy watercress salad (a.k.a. crispy morning glory salad; not sure which vegetable they actually use). Brookside does not have this dish, at least when I've been there.

            I have not been to Topaz in Belleville yet -- now that Applecheeks mentioned it, I'm curious -- that's pretty close to where I live, so I should check it out. But I've been to Thailand a couple of times, and also to various brilliant Thai restaurants in Queens many times, so my standards for Thai are fairly high.

            Brookside Thai Restaurant
            380 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ 07003

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ike

              If you try Topaz, let me know how you like it. Everyone that I have sent there loves the place.

              1. re: Applecheeks

                FINALLY got over to Topaz. Based on my one visit so far, I'm not that impressed -- Boonsong and Brookside in Bloomfield are better. Admittedly that's pretty tough competition though.