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Looks like we'll be leaving the Garden State

diva360 Jun 9, 2012 06:37 AM

Hi all--I've enjoyed reading your reviews while we have lived here, and you have steered me toward many great places to eat. It seems that we will be leaving for either the NOLA or the San Francisco/San Joaquin Valley area at the end of the summer, so I'm looking for spots in NJ that you think mr. diva and I cannot miss before we leave! We live in Summit, and we will travel for good food. Just for points of reference, here are some favorites, and this is just a partial list:

Milburn Deli or Zappia's in Summit for Italian/Deli sandwiches
Mompou in Newark for tapas
Seabra's in Newark for Portuguese seafood
Casa Maya in Meyersville for Mexican (we don't think it's great by Texas standards, but it fulfills intermittent cravings--we'd love to find a place with traditional tacos ([garnished with cilantro, onions, and lime slices] and homemade tortillas outside of Manhattan)
Stamna for Greek in Bloomfield (disappointing the last time we went, overcooked and dried out meat)
Dinosaur BBQ in Newark (or Harlem, for that matter)
Above Bar (quasi new American)
Marjan in Morristown for Persian
Taka Sushi in Summit (this place is just OK, but the best we've found in the area)
Shanghair Bun in Edison
Grand Sichuan in Jersey City (good spicy beef soup and soup dumplings)
La Pastaria in Summit (pretty good local Italian; their extensive daily specials menu is good)

There are a lot of restaurants we go to in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but I am trying to limit this list to NJ. Where should we go?

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  1. Curlz RE: diva360 Jun 9, 2012 06:54 AM

    Without thinking too hard about it:

    Definitely grab a bunch of friends and go to Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove for authentic Szechuan!
    Blu in Montclair
    Denville Dairy for a cone out front and (sep of excellent ice cream), a real 'Americana' experience (kids, dogs, neighbors, etc.)
    Skylark Diner in Edison

    1. grampart RE: diva360 Jun 9, 2012 07:38 AM

      This may not be what you have in mind, but may I suggest The Clinton House in Clinton (Hunterdon County). A great old restaurant in a beautiful town and a nice drive (under an hour) from Summit. I've never been disappointed in over 40 years of dining there. http://www.theclintonhouse.com/dinner...

      1. Quine RE: diva360 Jun 9, 2012 10:43 AM

        El Senor Frog for Authentic Mexican, in Manahawkin, NJ.

        Per photo: "traditional tacos ([garnished with cilantro, onions, and lime slices] and homemade tortillas "

        1. j
          joonjoon RE: diva360 Jun 11, 2012 07:29 AM

          I just got back from NOLA...man oh man the food there is amazing. If you love food you can't go wrong with either of your possible destinations, but there's just something about the culture and food at NOLA. Best of luck!

          If I were to leave NJ, I'd probably try to squeeze in one meal at the following joints:

          Nicholas, Red Bank
          Shanghai Bun, Matawan
          Chengdu, Cedar Grove
          Super Pollo, Brick
          Picnic Garden, Edison
          So Kong Dong, Fort Lee
          Jack's, Long Branch (Garlic buffalo wings)

          That's all I can think of for now.

          1. c
            coldbeer RE: diva360 Jun 11, 2012 08:13 AM

            Lorena's in Maplewood.
            Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield.
            Element's in Princeton.
            City Tavern in Elizabeth.

            1. JustJake RE: diva360 Jun 11, 2012 10:23 AM

              Congratulations. Both very desirable and if presented with this set of lifestyles, retirement what have you, it'd be hands down 'Marin County' for me.. You'll get far more ethnic variation to your culinary pursuits out on the Bay, be it SF, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Santa Cruz or Sonoma than even a great city's cuisine such as NOLA. There's some real cognitive dissonance here, but West coast will always win out as you can't eat 24/7 and there's so much more out there.

              If you're doing up a farewell finale here in the Garden State, I'd get the best pizza around, and go directly to Hamilton Ave. to DeLorenzo's for East Coast, no make that Jersey style tomato pie. A1, Delfinas, L'Osteria de Forno are 'fine' local Cali presentations, but do not board a plane without visiting DeLorenzo's (and not the Robinsville location- go to Trenton).

              #2). Head on down to the shore (Long Branch) and stop into Izu for great sushi (lunch), and spend the day at the beach anywhere from LB to Sea Girt. Walk the LB, AP or Spring Lake's boards - or just have cocktails at any number of places along the water (McLoones in Sea Bright or AP, The Columns, or the Breakers), but I'd make a point in having dinner at Bay Ave Trattoria (byo) in the Highlands (just down the road from Long Branch/Sea Bright). It is indeed my favorite. Any of his specials are always worth ordering.

              And #3 Nagle's Apocethary in Ocean Grove for home made ice cream and the charm that is town has.

              You're not happy with your current Greek? Pithari's in Highland Park is quite good. The Mexican jag that you occasionally have can be had with any number of food trucks. Working in Somerset County has me having my fix at Joyce's Taquiera in the strong Latin haven that is Bound Brook . I can't offer you a better BBQ experience than what you're currently doing. I wish I were in your shoes. Sonoma or Whidbey Island are my ideal retirement destinations; will probably settle for East coast near Asheville, hopefully sooner than later. But we will all miss NJ should we leave as there's nothing like it.

              Bon Apetit

              13 Replies
              1. re: JustJake
                Quine RE: JustJake Jun 11, 2012 02:33 PM

                DeLorenzo's er.....the Trenton location has been closed. Several mentions of that in posts here in the NJ board.
                also : http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/20...

                1. re: Quine
                  diva360 RE: Quine Jun 11, 2012 08:32 PM

                  Thanks everyone--we're not retiring, but relocating for a new job (me). Unfortunately, we can't live in NOLA or the bay area directly, those are just the closest metros (within 1-2 hours). As for DeLorenzo's, isn't there another location somewhere?

                  1. re: Quine
                    JustJake RE: Quine Jun 12, 2012 06:49 AM

                    Q, it was my understanding that ONLY the Hudson St. location closed.

                    The Hamilton Ave. location is still open. Correct? That's what I garnered when I read your link when it was originally posted on NJ.com

                    1. re: JustJake
                      don515 RE: JustJake Jun 12, 2012 07:02 AM

                      I live in Pittsburgh now and go back to NJ just to have a ruben at Kellys in Neptune.


                      Picture below


                      1. re: don515
                        joonjoon RE: don515 Jun 12, 2012 07:09 AM

                        I've never had a Reuben there but I do love their "recession special" steak. Fantastic!

                        1. re: joonjoon
                          don515 RE: joonjoon Jun 12, 2012 07:13 AM

                          Yea because of Kelly's I usually dont make it to the beach :)

                          1. re: joonjoon
                            MGZ RE: joonjoon Jun 12, 2012 07:24 AM

                            Kelly's may be a sad vestige of it's former self, but the reubens are still worth a once in a while visit. (I actually know a few people who hold to the notion that the place has never been the same since they started hiring women.)

                            1. re: MGZ
                              don515 RE: MGZ Jun 12, 2012 08:17 AM

                              Whats changed?

                              1. re: don515
                                MGZ RE: don515 Jun 12, 2012 08:26 AM

                                The quality of much of the food.

                              2. re: MGZ
                                bifpocaroba RE: MGZ Jun 12, 2012 10:32 AM

                                I worked at Kelly's back in the 80's. A great crew of guys there back then, Ed and Kevin always treated us great. I was there a few weeks back . The Reuben and Turkey Sligo were always popular items. I also used to loved the fried mushrooms but didn't see it on the menu.

                                1. re: bifpocaroba
                                  MGZ RE: bifpocaroba Jun 12, 2012 11:14 AM

                                  We were frequently there in those days. On Saturdays, during football season, I would go there with my family after games. I could actually split an order of the mushrooms with Mom and then proceed to put away a whole reuben.

                          2. re: JustJake
                            Quine RE: JustJake Jun 12, 2012 11:56 AM

                            There's this :

                            Never been to either. If I am in Trenton it's to get great Polish meats and deli and stock up.

                            1. re: Quine
                              JustJake RE: Quine Jun 13, 2012 08:52 AM

                              Q, as stated earlier, it was just the downtown Hudson St. location that closed. You do know that while 'same' family, they were SEPARATE?

                              Hamilton Ave. remains open. Called them just to make sure as if I'm within 15 minutes drive time, and its near lunch or dinner, I'm so there.


                      2. njfreqflyer RE: diva360 Jun 12, 2012 01:26 PM

                        - Seabra's Marisqueira, Newark.
                        - Taylor ham (pork roll) and cheese sandwich at your favorite diner (hopefully a NJ classic like the Tick Tock in Clifton)
                        - Food court at Mitsuwa, Edgewater.
                        - Clams on the half shell, steamers, and a lobster at a shore joint. I like the Crab Room at the Oyster Creek Inn, Leeds Point.
                        - Italian hot dogs at Jimmy Buff's or Dickie Dee's.
                        - Ravioli at Spirito's, Elizabeth.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: njfreqflyer
                          don515 RE: njfreqflyer Jun 14, 2012 05:28 AM

                          Ditto on the Spirito's Rav-the best on the planet!


                          1. re: don515
                            JustJake RE: don515 Jun 14, 2012 06:43 AM

                            I'm going to have to try Spirito's one of these days. Not a special trip mind you (from the Shore), but if I'm in the area - and there's no imminent move on my part out of the state ;-).

                            It's been mentioned way too many times for me not to stop in should the opportunity arise. Thanks

                            1. re: JustJake
                              fourunder RE: JustJake Jun 14, 2012 09:00 AM

                              I would have to agree that the Ravioli is special at Spirito's....the rest of the menu, not so much.

                              Instead of the pizza at Spirito's, go to Santillo's instead and try the *1964*. Be sure to ask Al to show you the 100+ year old oven. He very proud of his product and has tremendous passion for his craft.



                              Finish off you day with some great Italian Water Ice at DiCosmo's around the corner from Spirito's.


                        2. l
                          livingloving RE: diva360 Jun 12, 2012 07:53 PM

                          I second Bay Avenue Trattoria, delorenzos Robbinsville, Copper Canyon Atlantic Highlands try the steak they tend to undercook so order accordingly. Trinity key port . Belford Bistro for a great luncheonette/ diner the In Between Red Bank. Talericios Middletown - Italian deli great sandwiches huge!!Flaky Tart Atlantic Highlands dessert / baked goods. Macaroons and smores pie Whoa! Cheesesteaks @ Ciao Bella Navesink. Pizza @ Nunzios Long Branch. Beasty Burger Red Bank. Zaiitoni Red Bank Greek Middle Eastern food.

                          1. l
                            lapositivista RE: diva360 Jun 13, 2012 09:24 AM

                            - Cinco de Mayo, Cielito Lindo or Costa Chica in New Brunswick for authentic tacos
                            - Gaby's Bakery in New Brunswick for the best torta of your life on a fresh baked telera (I'm partial to tortas de quesillo)
                            - So Man Noon Jip in Palisades Park for Korean BBQ
                            - El Salvadoreno in Elizabeth for pupusas

                            1. NellyNel RE: diva360 Jun 14, 2012 07:09 AM

                              I would head to White Manna in Hackensack - not to be missed!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: NellyNel
                                MGZ RE: NellyNel Jun 19, 2012 02:26 AM

                                Yeah, or White Rose in Highland Park, but a burger like that is pretty damn "Jersey".

                                I think I'd also put down a lot of pizza if I was leaving the State. When I lived elsewhere, it's always what I wanted when I came home to see the folks.

                                Other suggestions to the OP would be a pork roll sandwich or three and a good bagel for breakfast a few times. And, since it's summer, eat all the lobster you can since you're not going to find it as readily available or cheap in either of the places you're contemplating.

                                1. re: MGZ
                                  arpad RE: MGZ Jun 19, 2012 08:45 AM

                                  Good thing is you can get White Castle in the frozen food depts in a lot of supermarkets . Almost all the greasy goodness of the real thing ... but no atmosphere !

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