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Elizabeth and Hillside meal options

Hi all,

I'll be in Hillside to facilitate a training onTuesday and I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for dinner Monday night and for lunch on Tuesday. I won't be getting into Jersey until around dinner time, so somewhere only 15-20 minutes driving from the airport would be ideal. And for lunch the next day, I need to be able to pick up lunch in the morning because I won't have time to run out at lunch time--I need to prep for the afternoon training session.

Cuisine is not specific--I just want great food and a place with relatively well-lit parking because it gets dark earlier now...

Any help would be great; and I think I'll be heading down to that area quite often, so "late" replies will be fine too. :)

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  1. Union is just next-door to Hillside and has two good dinner options.

    Ursino at Kean College has had good reviews on this board (do a search), although I have not been there.


    A couple of more minutes away is Ristorante da Benito, with excellent Italian (albeit on the expensive end). I have been there and recommend it.


    1. Vinhus is a good Portuguese restaurant located in Roselle Park, which is on the Elizabeth border. They are open for lunch.

      1. The City Tavern in Elizabeth is a great place for lunch or dinner. Try the skirt steak con cinco estrellas...it's out of this world.

        1. 100% Agree with njfreqflyer...I go to both Ursinos and Benito's all the time. Tho Benitos can be pricey. If I had to choose for eating solo, I'd choose Ursino's. Benny's isn'y really a 'dine by yourself' kind of place, unless your a regular.

          City Tavern you'd probably like for lunch if walking in the dark is a concern, as its downtown and you can't really get a parkign spot close.

          La Catena in Roselle Park is one of my go to favorites. The lot can be dark depending where you park in it; but if your solo the owners will walk out with you (its real throw back Italian...run/owned by 3 brothers.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jersey Girl227

            City Tavern has their own lighted fenced in parking lot just north on the corner of Dickinson Street.

          2. Valenca at 665 Monroe Avenue is a wonderful Spanish/Portugese restaurant near Hillside. It has a tavern side and a more formal restaurant side, and I like the tavern better

            1. Manolo's is a Spanish restaurant in Elizabeth. It's a hidden gem with fantastic food. Also has its own parking lot. I highly recommend the fish dishes and the paella is out of this world. (As an aside, Manolo's was Vesuvio's in The Sopranos.)


              1 Reply
              1. re: foodeenj

                Forgot about Manolo's, which is would be a great choice. It's in Port Elizabeth.

              2. Torna di Sorrento on Westfield Avenue in Elizabeth has delicious Italian food. The best fried calamari and eggplant parmagiana I've ever had. The pasta and sauces are top-notch. They have a large-well lit parking lot right next door which is a plus. The dining room is not fancy and could use a facelift, but the food and service are terrific. John runs the front of the house and his parents/brother do the cooking. Please give it a try and report back - I've been eating there for almost 20 years and have NEVER been disappointed.

                1. Thanks so much for the recommendations! I got in too late to try any of them Tuesday night, but I'm excited to try ALL of these places when I return. When I was driving to my training location, it brought back fond memories of the school district where I had been working before my new job as an educational trainer--good people and GREAT food. You brought back some good memories and excitement for some new ones! I can't wait to come back down there. :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: elinornicole

                    When you come back, my recommendation would be Spirito's in Elizabeth. They have the best ravioli in the world. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/408224 The pizza is ok, but it's the ravioli that I'd travel for.

                    1. re: michele cindy

                      Sounds like a GEM! Do they take credit cards? I'll be back down in a few weeks, so I can't wait to try it and some Portuguese too. :)

                  2. I agree with all of the previous suggestions. Also...

                    If you like Cuban food, I would recommend El Palmar (have made several visits) on Elizabeth Ave. (From airport take Hwy. 1&9 South). On same street is Café Alvarez (never eaten there).

                    And let us not forget Santillo's Pizza on S. Broad St. (also just off 1&9). In NJ's top five according to Munchmobile, NJ Monthly, Radio 101.5, and yours truly. It is take-out only, but you can take your pie to the Vasco da Gama tavern around the corner and enjoy it there.

                    I would add that Valença, besides the regular Portuguese menu, offers cook-at-your-table (on an ultra-hot stone) filet mignon, tuna steak or prawns. The first two you cut up into small pieces to cook. Delicious and fun. A bit smoky in the dining room when a lot of people are doing it.