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Recommendations for Restaurant in Oakland NJ Area

I'd like to send a former colleague a gift certificate ($100) for a nice restaurant in the Oakland (Bergen County) area. No idea of his food preferences, but I suspect he and his wife steer clear of anything too exotic. Recommendations?

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  1. Can't think of much actually in Oakland. I was on the bowling team in college, and we used to practice there. Nearby Wayne has just about every chain restaurant imaginable, and they all offer gift certificates. How about the River Palm in Fairlawn?


    1. Wayne Steakhouse might be an option. It's BYO, so 100 would go a long way. Well, it would cover about 75% of the bill for 2.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tommy

        Which is better - Wayne Steakhouse or River Palm in Fairlawn? (I recall a CH thread pointing out differences in the food at the different River Palm restaurants, so I'm specifically interested in comparison of Wayne Steakhouse to the Fairlawn River Palm.) Also, another place I've seen in this area mentioned on CH is Picnic in Radburn. How does it compare to these other two places? - Thanks.

        1. re: Forklaw

          Never been to Wayne Steakhouse - River Palm is very expensive - $100 could cover one person if he wanted an appy and drink - all sides are extra. Picnic is very good - small place, the menu changes daily, Chef's Table doesn't have a website - but you can see the reviews on Trip Advisor, and Zagats

          1. re: Forklaw

            Wayne Steakhouse is one of the Peter Luger clones, in that it has a very very similar menu and, perhaps more importantly, style of cooking (and bacon). I prefer it to the Fairlawn River Palm because I'm partial to the Luger style of preparing and serving steak. River Palm's steaks have never impressed me all that much.

        2. Cafe L'Amore is a nice BYOB Italian restaurant located in Oakland. It doesn;t look like much from the outside, but it has delicous food

          1. Delpinos is another BYOB located in Franklin Lakes - one town over and The Chef's Table is another choice in Franklin Lakes

            3 Replies
            1. re: cherrus

              Thanks for all your suggestions! Very helpful.

                1. re: fourunder

                  I would choose Timbers over the Valley Stables - Valley Stables is like a non-chain Friday's

            2. I love Seafood and Varka in Ramsey or Oceanos in Fairlawn is just off 208 are both good options.
              Cenzino is very good Italian in Oakland
              Rosemary and Sage on hamburg turnpike in riverdale is only about 10 minutes from there and has excellent food.
              Rocca Italian in Glen Rock

              1. IMO, the River Palm is much better than the Wayne Steakhouse, although the latter is BYO.

                Also, there is a River Palm location in Mahwah, which is the town bordering Oakland, right up 202.

                Rosemary & Sage (Riverdale), Varka (Ramsey), the Chef's Table (Franklin Lakes) and Picnic (Fair Lawn) are all excellent choices.

                7 Replies
                1. re: ELA

                  Thanks for the latest suggestions, as I'm still doing my research. Wayne Steakhouse was the top contender but they're out of the running because they will not a mail gift certificate and I'm too far away to pick it up. River Palm - - I've read a good number of rather mixed reviews, so I'm going to cross them off the list. Valley Stables - the large majority of reviews I've read on several sites have been very negative so they're definitely out. I'm checking the other suggestions from Cherrus, NJFoodLover and ELA. I'm sure one will be the ticket.

                  1. re: Forklaw

                    Just curious, where exactly are you reading these reviews? Using The River Palm Terrace as an example....I've been going there for nearly three decades since it has opened and have never had a poor experience....

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Some yelpers haven't been overly generous with the place. Nor have I. I'm certainly not shocked that it gets mixed reviews.

                      1. re: tommy

                        I'm certainly aware not everyone will be happy with The River Palm....and I'm sure that my patronage over the years has earned me some points.....but if the complaint is it's expensive for what it is, I would argue otherwise....and I'm aware you are not impressed....though I do not know if it is for the quality of the steak or other issues. Many may not like it for whatever reasons, but the mere fact the original location and expansion of other locations over 29 years suggests many feel it's a good place for many, but maybe not a few disgruntled patrons for legitimate reasons for miscues or more serious concerns.. I respect anyone who does not like any place for any reason.....but when giving a gift, you try to find a place the receiver will appreciate and maybe not go there on their own. I'd appreciate a gift to RPtT or any of the other places mentioned.......but when I want to wow a person....it's not about my preferences....rather the recipients perception how much I value my relationship with them.

                        The argument that even though the parking lot is full does not mean the food is any good is silly.. with that said, I pass by all three RPT location and The Valley Stables as well.....the lots are always full...That indicates to me that some people like them.

                        I'm not a wine connoisseur, but I'm sure you could get a decent bottle of wine of either place (RPT or VS ) if you do not like the food......

                        Would you agree that someone who feels like they were wronged would be more motivated to write a negative review.....rather than a happy patron who rushes to post a positive one?

                        1. re: fourunder

                          At the risk of wading into the middle of something...

                          Can't speak for RPT -- I remember being really put off by the mandatory valet parking years ago; now that I'm older and creakier, I'd be more tolerant -- but the full lot at Valley Stables is due more to the bands that play nearly every night than the food.

                          When I go, it's pretty much only on Sundays (no bands). Then, it's got a nice, laid-back neighborhood corner bar feeling, in a neat setting. The burgers are pretty good, as is the fish & chips, but the upthread poster who called it a non-chain Fridays was fairly close to the mark (if a little harsh).

                          As for the idea that a full parking lot is an indicator of good food, I have two words: Red. Lobster. (or Olive. Garden.)

                    2. re: Forklaw

                      I would not be put off by the "mixed reviews" of the River Palm. For the most part, it is consistently rated the top, or one of the top steakhouses in Northern NJ, and in some cases, all of NJ. That might be for the original Edgewater location, and some might say they don't like Fair Lawn or Mahwah, however, in my opinion, you will enjoy it. I say that not because I know you or your likes, dislikes, etc. -- but because a very high % of people who go there enjoy it, and very much so.

                      The quality of the steak is excellent, and while they might do certain cuts better than others, I've had every cut there, and they are always very good. I agree with the other poster -- it is very good for most people, and a few don't like what they don't like. If you say it's expensive, that's a relative term, and everyone has their own view of what's expensive. Personally, I don't think it is. I get excellent food, service, and an excellent experience.

                      Most of the time, all 3 locations, are very busy -- yes, another sign that many enjoy the place(s) and think it's good. Maybe it says something about the masses, but not the few. Who knows.

                      They've been around a long time, and I for one would not exclude them because of a few "mixed reviews" -- far too small a sampling. It would be a very nice gift and there's a very good chance your friends will like it...very much. Good luck.

                      1. re: ELA

                        Also worth considering is Houston's at Riverside mall in Hackensack. $100 will go a little further here than at River Palm.