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Looks like we'll be leaving the Garden State

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

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

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

            1. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

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


                      Picture below


                      1. re: don515

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

                        1. re: joonjoon

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

                          1. re: joonjoon

                            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: don515

                                The quality of much of the food.

                              2. re: MGZ

                                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

                                  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

                            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

                              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. - 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

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


                          1. re: don515

                            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

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

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: NellyNel

                                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

                                  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 !