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6 Months of Terrible Food Since Relocating to Rahway, NJ

Ok, so I relocated from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Rahway, NJ about 6 months ago. I settled down and started giving local fare a chance. I have been horribly disappointed with every restaurant I have been to in New Jersey thus far. I have ended up taking the train to Manhattan when I want to eat out this past month.

So, my plea. Where in a 15 mile radius of Rahway can I get some really good food? At this point, I am not even asking for specific types of cuisine. I need my reliable chowhounders to disprove my notion that New Jersey pollution has destroyed all of its citizens palates.

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  1. New Brunswick, Westfield are within 15 minutes drive or by train - and there are a handful to 10 restaurants that are worth checking out. That's where I'd start.

    Woodbridge which is but 5 minutes away - JJ Bitings brewery or Mie Thai for reputable Thai. I also happen to love Ill Castillo for formal Italian dining.

    Lou Cas in Edison (#27/Parsonage Rd) is very very good. You could also try Metuchen as well.

    What places have you tried? It would help fellow CH'ers respond with some viable alternatives.

    All is not lost, but you need a Garmin and some advice. Now, tell us what you're looking for - and maybe Manhattan is where you need to go, but I have to tell you, that even in Middlesex County (even though Rahway is in Union), there are hidden gems.

    Let's hear a little more from you.....

    22 Replies
    1. re: JustJake

      Ok, so places I have been to since arrival that I have not liked or thought were on par with the reviews.

      Nancy's Town House - very popular but overrated

      The Waiting Room - god awful, but I still end up there for a beer for the Dolphin's games

      Cubanu - $20 entrees for Cuban food? Highway robbery. I didn't even eat there but there is no such thing as stuffy Cuban food

      Michelino's - Best pizza I've had so far in NJ but I imagine there has to be much better. $20 for a thin pie leads me astray.

      Stuff Yer Face - They had a great beer that is very hard to come by in Florida so I respect them for that. Their wings were ok.

      Beana's - the first restaurant I've ever walked out of it was so terrible. I don't feel like ranting about that now.

      Jose Teja's - between this and Beana's it's very clear that New Jersey has never seen a Mexican

      Harold's Deli - all show and large portions, lacking on the execution and quality

      White Castle - just because we don't have them in the Southeast but now I know why you need to be extremely stoned to enjoy it.

      I have been to a couple other places but I can't recall their names or their location. Therefore they were forgettable.

      1. re: skuzzy

        Judging whether NJ has seen a Mexican by Jose Teja's is like judging it by Taco Bell. There are plenty of authentic Mexican places around. Aberdeen has Pancho Villa's, Keyport has El Pollo y La Oaxaquena, and New Brunswick has Costa Chica, Cinco de Mayo, and probably a bunch of others.

        And who judges restaurants by White Castle anyway?

        1. re: eleeper

          I was asked where I had been and I felt that White Castle was a novelty for me so I added it.

          1. re: skuzzy

            I'm with you on this one; going to New Jersey and not eating White Castle is like going down South and not eating at Waffle House.

            That being said, you are surrounded by incredible food and I can't believe you've missed it. Luckily, you have some wonderful suggestions.

        2. re: skuzzy

          Go to El Encuentro Centro Americano in Morristown and tell them that NJ has never seen any Latinos.

          1. re: tamerlanenj

            I like the reference to Timur but I didn't say Latinos, I said Mexicans which is a specific subset.

            Aside from that, I used two really unauthentic places to make that statement and from my perspective at this point that is what I see. The purpose of this post was for someone to disprove that by providing an authentic Mexican restaurant in the Central New Jersey area so that I can change my tune.

            1. re: skuzzy

              LA Estacion in Morristown is very good.

              1. re: tamerlanenj

                I just read the Yelp reviews and based on the menu items people are ordering and some people flat out saying "this place is run by Caucasians" makes me extremely weary. But this thread is slowly leading me to believe I have a new business venture upcoming.

                1. re: skuzzy

                  Funny, since it's owned and founded by Raul Silva, a Mexican.

              2. re: skuzzy

                I understand your longing for authentic Mexican food, having spent several years in TX Best I have found in NJ is Casa Maya in Gillette. They also have a location in Old Bridge, however I have only been to the Gillette location. http://www.casamayamexican.com/Home_G...

                1. re: PuniceaRana

                  I want to see a place where it just says TACO and I can simply expect that only onions, cilantro, and maybe queso blanco or crema is on it and it is double wrapped in a corn tortilla no questions asked. I know I am asking for a lot.

                  1. re: skuzzy

                    Since you've gotten a number of rec's outside your relocation, location-consider the small town of Keyport for authentic tacos. Several Mexican-owned take out joints have opened up there. All hit the taco nail on the head at very responsible prices. Same thing in the town of Red Bank. Mexican run is your best bet.

                    1. re: skuzzy

                      Skuzzy, I get them (tacos) just like that in Bound Brook (Joyce's Taquira) and Asbury Park (the little bakery/luncheonette on Main St just beyond Asbury Ave). Cheap, delicious and the only way to have a taco. And NO, you're not asking for a lot.


                      1. re: skuzzy

                        You need to check out 10th Avenue Burrito in Belmar, then!

                        1. re: Curlz

                          No. AVOID 10th Ave Burrito. It is terrible.

                        2. re: skuzzy

                          Surprised nobody has mentioned Senor Peppers (do NOT be put off by the name) in Redbank - tho RB's "little Mexico" was mentioned. They have the tacos you want. Kind of place where all the workers roll in at the end of the day with 2 cases of beer (a BYO - another hidden NJ advantage) and chow down. Everything is excellent and cheap (and great jukebox). Also, finally somebody mentioned Emma's in Cranford which is consistently, pie after delicious pie, some of the best genuine wood oven, thin crust pizza I have eaten in my long life (including all 5 boroughs). I've lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn and these two are just a couple of examples of why I'd rather go out for chow in NJ (+ parking lots, no hipsters, less vermin, etc). It's out there.

                        3. re: PuniceaRana

                          I agree, this menu looks more authentic than any other recommendations so far.

                            1. re: arpad

                              Yes, you are correct, the other location is in High Bridge. I should have not relied on my memory and actually checked their website!

                            2. re: PuniceaRana

                              Need to point out that the other Casa Maya location is in High Bridge, not Old Bridge. Big difference. High Bridge is in Hunterdon County, a fair trek from Rahway.

                              Added in Edit: Whoops, how did I miss arpad's comment!

                              1. re: PuniceaRana

                                I grew up in Gillette. When I was a kid (we're talking 40 years ago!), there was a convenience store called Cracker Barrel where Casa Maya is now. That area is actually known as Meyersville. I lived there briefly as well.

                          1. re: skuzzy

                            "... New Jersey has never seen a Mexican."

                            Actually 60% to 70% of restaurant kitchens in the NYC tri-state area are mostly, if not fully staffed be Mexicans of Pueblan decent. Find the communities where they live and there will be excellent taquerias on every other corner. I am familiar with these areas in Monmouth County where there are likely over a dozen good places, and can only guess there should be sizable Mexican communities near Rahway...

                        4. What did you think of Patria in Rahway? What did you think of The Railhouse in Rahway?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: coldbeer

                            I have walked by The Rail House numerous times but I still haven't been. I will definitely give it a try if you recommend it.

                              1. re: coldbeer

                                We ended up going to Patria's. I ordered the Paella which is obviously not traditional for Peruvian cuisine and it was mediocre at best. The seafood was overcooked and it was pretty pricey for what you received. The only redeeming factor was the broth infused rice which had some flavor. My major complaint is with what my girlfriend ordered. She ordered the short ribs in a pea puree. The short rib should melt like butter with the touch of a fork but unfortunately she had to ask for a steak knife. That is how tough it was. Not to mention it was exceptionally expensive for what it was.

                                The ambiance was the best part of the place. Someone invested some dollars into it and it was pretty well executed.

                          2. Oak Tree Road in Iselin is easily within 15 miles; have you tried any of the Indian restaurants along there? Keum Ho Jung in Edison is also recommended. Depending on where you are in Rahway, Shanghai Bun and West Lake in Aberdeen may also be within 15 miles.

                            1. D&R Deli in Rahway makes good solid subs with Boars Head Meat. And their specials can get pretty interesting.

                              Just Plain Dave's in Westfield is a great restaurant for Diner Style Food with a Twist.

                              Steakzillas in Woodbridge for Cheesesteaks.

                              Great Grease and onion burgers and neon yellow cheese fries- White Rose System

                              Jose Tejas in Woodbridge for solid Tex-Mex

                              Shannon Rose in Woodbridge for Pretty good Irish style / bar food.

                              Baguette Delight in Edison for Bahn-mi (I've been only once and impressed, pretty good reviews on here).

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: coldsolderjoint

                                I have to disagree with Jose Teja's. I thought it was pretty terrible foodwise. The vibe was ok. 1.5 hour wait for a table.

                                1. re: skuzzy

                                  Jose Teja's has gone seriously downhill. They changed their cocktail mix much to customers dismay and the menu items are being prepared differently than even a year ago. We noticed a major change and a change in service vibe and stopped going.

                                2. re: coldsolderjoint

                                  Steakzillas and Baguette Delite sound up my alley.

                                  Down south, I could buy Boar's Head from the supermarket and I always felt that I can make a Boar's Head sandwich/sub myself with almost equal results unless they bake their own bread.

                                  1. re: coldsolderjoint

                                    I just went to Baguette Delite and grabbed some BBQ pork bahn mis and a couple meatball ones for a change-up. The place is great. An off the road hole in the wall with a small seating area. The place was pretty busy and the kitchen was busting their ass right in front of you trying to meet the demand.

                                    The bahn mi itself is great and at $5 its a steal. It definitely contends with the bahn mis I've had in San Francisco and Little Vietnam in Orlando. The fact that it had no head cheese or pate takes away a little bit of authenticity but since I strongly dislike both, it was great that I didn't have to ask for it without.

                                    I would recommend this place to anyone. Crisp clean ingredients and flavor at fast food prices. Thanks for spreading the word.

                                  2. Actually, I like a wide variety of food but I did look at my posts last night and they ended up being about pizza or lobbying for La Spada's (no affiliation).

                                    I enjoy a wide variety of food. If anyone can recommend a straight off the boat from Israel schwarma place, authentic Thai, authentic Mexican, authentic Peruvian/Colombian, authentic Cuban food, a good pizza place outside of what I listed in the previous post, a really good Deli (Harold's was recommended to me but it fell short), authentic Indian food, a great Bahn Mi, a really good Med/Greek restaurant, and the list goes on.

                                    1. Skuzzy the first question is why in the heck would you leave beautiful Ft. Lauderdale to move to Rahway NJ. I mean no offense I grew up in the area so I can say without malice the place is best known for a prison !!!!

                                      Anyway I'm going to say this....your taste buds are probably frozen from the lack of Florida Sun and need time to thaw before they can appreciate Jersey dining.

                                      I will +1 Il Costillo's in Woodbridge and Lu Cas of Edison/Metuchen.

                                      I will add......Civilies BYOB Metuchen......&.....La Griglia Kennilworth.........also although I have not been there I have heard nothing but excellent things about Blvd 572(?) or something similar to that in Kennilworth also about a half mile past La Griglia.

                                      Good luck !!!

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                        Ha! I left Fort Lauderdale because my girlfriend is going to UMDNJ and I was forced into this pit of despair. I am exaggerating but from my limited experience so far the food is as bad as the roads.

                                        1. re: skuzzy

                                          I moved from that area 20 years ago so my intimate knowledge of places is limited these days. The places I recommended to you are fine dining and fairly pricey....but as they say you will get what you pay for.

                                          As far as more moderate with decent food I would say the Houlihans on Rt. 1 not to far for Jose Teja's might be a good spot for you to try. For Indian food there are a lot of options in the Islin section of Woodbridge near Oak Tree road. Newark NJ has a large Portuguesse population with many good places to try there.....just BE CAREFUL mapquest or use navigation carefully you don't want to make a wrong turn or two. Also remember NJ is the Diner capital of the world and some hidden treasures can be found at some of them.

                                          Sorry I'm not of more help.

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            For a chain, Houlihan's is one of the more solid ones. Their Thai Chile wings are my favorite wings. Get them with extra sriracha sauce

                                            Their small plates are also good.

                                            1. re: MarlboroMan

                                              I have been spending many nights at my parents house in Lakewood to help with my ailing mom. This has brought me to the Houlihan's on Rt. 70 in Lakewood fairly often simply because it is a half mile from where they live. I'm actually starting to get impressed with the place/quality of food. They have a "decent" prime rib Thur-Sat. and as you stated their wings are excellent. (although I prefer sauce's on the side) They have an Ahi Tuna salad which is fantastic and many of their other entree's are solid as well. It doesn't have that pre-packaged/made micro wave heated taste or consistency that many chains like them seem to have.

                                              Oh and they have creme brulee' for desert!! And it's good!!!!!

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                I like the ahi tuna appetizer (offered small or large portion) at the Bonefish Grill topped off by a pomm martini (with frozen grapes) even better.

                                              2. re: MarlboroMan

                                                Agreed. Houihan's salads are good, and I recently tried the fried pickle appetizer, which was done completely differently than anywhere else I have had them, and was delicious.

                                        2. The Linwood Inn has good burgers and pizza.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ebchower

                                            Galloping Hill Inn/Grill in Kenilworth, Cioffi's Pizza/Italian Restaurant in Union, Zia Lisa Pizza in Edison, or Uno's on Rt. 1 in Woodbridge for some wings and beer brewed on premises.

                                            1. re: ebchower

                                              I made the trip to Linwood Inn. Prior to getting to the burgers, I love the amount of TVs there and their viewing angles. I think I found a new place to watch football in the Fall if I can't find someone to beat it by the next season.

                                              I ordered the burger medium-well because I don't particularly think ground beef should be served rare (I predict someone will troll me for this opinion and if it were a steak I'd be on board). It had a large quantity of pepper in it which to me is a good thing and I thought the patty was seasoned well. Unfortunately my medium-well seemed more like well-done as it was pretty dry (so when I go back I will order medium and see if it gets done right). I could have masked the dryness with some condiments but my apathy kicked in as I was already a few bites into my burger and service is typical for a pub aka slow.

                                              All in all I see the potential in the burger but there is tweaking to be done to get it made to my satisfaction.

                                            2. I grew up in Rahway and environs. Lived away for a while but back frequently to visit family. It's not totally clear from your post what kind of restaurants you're looking for, but here are a few of my favorites.

                                              Mr. J's in Cranford for sloppy joes - NJ style, these are deli sandwiches on rye with cole slaw and russian dressing.

                                              Casa Giuseppe in Iselin, Triestina's in Cranford, Luciano's in Rahway for Italian.

                                              A Toute Heure in Cranford - byob bistro with local ingredients, seasonal menu.

                                              Pierogi Palace in Rahway.

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: sadiefox

                                                Sadie if you grew up in Rahway let me ask you this question.....about 20 years ago there use to be an old school Italian restaurant right in the down town area......it was a store front the owner/chef use to sit in the window playing cards etc. If he didn't like the look of you he would refuse you service at the door. Literally...."Get out we are close" even though it was a Wednesday at 7pm and the place was full. lol

                                                He then moved into what was another restaurants location that had closed. It was in a large brick building and much "fancier" than the original place.....he son was taking over the operations at this point and I think within about 5 years at the new location they closed. The had the BEST Pasta Fagiole I had ever had. The name completely escapes me......Jimmy's? Do you recall the place I'm talking about??

                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                  I am living downtown right now and a lot of the shops/restaurants have closed down. I can safely assume Rahway was hit pretty hard by the recession.

                                                  1. re: skuzzy

                                                    Yes, I've lived in Rahway for several years now and we've seen many old time places go, others come and go, and the biggest disappointment was the failure of David Drakes. I am originally from Boca Raton and my advice is to reset your expectations. Most people can't afford a fancy dinner and a trip to the diner is a real treat.

                                                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                      Rahway is one thing, but the plenty of communities in NJ are drowning in money. Now taste? That might be another thing...

                                                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                      Tep's closed a while ago. I've been following one of the Chef's. He had a place in Oakhurst (Mike & Nellies) - actually they were on kitchen nightmares. Now I hear he is doing private catering.

                                                      1. re: woof_dog

                                                        Mike and Nellie were a father and son team. Mike was the chef, Nellie was the front of the house, once Nellie passed away the place went to hell.

                                                        Who was the chef you followed? Mike was the only chef I knew of, he changed the place from Italian to a half assed steakhouse when Nellie died and as you noted Kitchen Nightmares showed the final nails going into that coffin.

                                                      2. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                        Ha! Sorry I didn't see this sooner, it was Villa Nova, owners name was Tony.

                                                    2. re: sadiefox

                                                      Ding Ding Ding!! sadiefox nailed it! All excellent rec's.

                                                      1. re: sadiefox

                                                        Looks like great recommendations. I am a bit skeptical of someone recommending a place for a sloppy joe but at the same time I am intrigued.

                                                        1. re: skuzzy

                                                          They are not like anything anyone else in the US calls a sloppy joe. They are regional to this area of NJ. It's a triple decker deli sandwich on rye with meat, swiss, cole slaw and russian dressing.

                                                          1. re: sadiefox

                                                            Ah, ok. I'm not as scared anymore. Sounds good.

                                                            1. re: skuzzy

                                                              and just saying - if you try to make a sloppy joe at home with roast beef, add some blue cheese to the cole slaw. YUM!

                                                          2. re: skuzzy

                                                            You might be confused about what he means by "Sloppy Joe." He's not talking about meat sauce on a bun, but a unique Jewish Deli type creation. Basically a multi-tiered pastrami or other deli meat sandwich with cole slaw and russian dressing.

                                                          3. re: sadiefox

                                                            Excellent choices. If you don't mind driving a bit for excellent Italian food - try Torna di Sorrento on Westfield Ave in Elizabeth. The place is not fancy, but the food will make you very happy. John runs the front of the house and he's a real gentleman. I've been eating there for years and have NEVER been disappointed. They have their own parking lot as well which is very convenient.

                                                          4. Check out Bonao, located at 349 Oak street Perth Amboy. Definitely not a fancy place, much more of a hole-in-the-wall, but you will find great home made Dominican style food at cheap prices.

                                                            1. Authentic Portuguese/Spanish food in the Ironbound (totally safe) section of Newark; Ferry St runs in to the back of Newark Penn Station, so you can even take the train there from Rahway and get out and walk! Seabra's Marisqueria and Casa Vasca would be my starting recommendations. Newark also now has a Dinosaur BBQ near the Pru Center.

                                                              You muuuuust get to Oak Tree Road in Edison if you like Indian food!

                                                              Have you been to Hoboken yet? Again, you could just take the train and wander up Washington Street...Vito's has serious NJ Italian subs...Karma Kafe and India on the Hudson have always been consistently good Indian imo (and a former Indian bf took me there!).

                                                              In Cranford, I'm a fan of Pairings Plate and Palate, Avenue for a few dishes (esp the Asam soup), and Kilkenny's Pub.

                                                              If you're willing to venture a bit further, Montclair is THE food town in NNJ, imo. Let us know if you're willing to drive a bit more than 15 miles or do a search on this board for lots of Montclair recs.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Curlz

                                                                You are the second person to mention Oak Tree Road so that is definitely on the list. I did PATH to Hoboken once but I ended up too drunk to remember much of anything except the slice of pizza I ended up eating and someone pointing out the Cake Boss' place.

                                                                I originally planned on moving to Montclair but then I realized the UMDNJ campus my girlfriend was going to was not in Newark as I had originally thought.

                                                                1. re: skuzzy

                                                                  If you drink, the perfect place for breakfast the next day - it's fast and cheap, so high school punks sit elbow to elbow with neighborhood regulars - is Mings on the same block as Loria Music Center on W Grand.

                                                                2. re: Curlz

                                                                  My wife and I have boycotted Vito's. She called one day to order a sub that I was going to pick up for her one my way home and thyey told her an hour and a half. I happened to be driving by about ten minutes later and there was no line. I walked in and asked why she was told it would be an hour and a half and they said they were busy. So I then asked if I ordered a sub how long it would take and they told me I could wait a few minutes. I told them no thanks and my wife wrote them and they never bothered contacting her.

                                                                  La Isla is good in Hoboken, Zafra, Pilsner Haus has great beer and good foiod.

                                                                  Cafe Matisse in Rutherford is very good

                                                                  1. re: Curlz

                                                                    Curlz your recs for Portugese/Spanish are right on! Two of my favorites in Newark.

                                                                    Amanda's in Hoboken is always a treat - to the palate and the eyes. A must try.

                                                                    Trattoria Bella Gente in Verona has been one of my favorites for pasta and pizza for many years. ( I can't believe I just shared my secret on here!!!)

                                                                    Hope you try these and please report back.

                                                                  2. I moved to Iselin a few months ago and have been traveling around looking for decent places to eat.. These are a few that I find to be pretty good.

                                                                    Thai House Rock on 1133St.George Ave, Colonia. Only 4 tables and the decor is a bit strange, but the food is darn good.
                                                                    Backyard Grill 500 Boulevard, Kenilworth Portuguese BBQ. Food is great, prices are reasonable.
                                                                    Jimmy Buff's Boulevard in Kenilworth (2 doors down from Backyard Grill) Italian Hot Dogs. If you've never had an IHD you must try one. Hot dogs, fried peppers, onions and potatoes on a pizza bread. YUM
                                                                    Emma's Brick Oven Pizza in Cranford. Best brick oven pizza i've had. Other items are good, as well.
                                                                    Mulberry St. on Woodbridge Ave. in Avenel. Upscale Italian. Food is fabulous and presentation lovely.
                                                                    Edison Family Restaurant 1900 Oak Tree Road in Edison. only open till 3pm. one step up from a diner for a good breakfast or lunch. Soups are terrific.
                                                                    Bellini's 505 Avenel St. Avenel is an eat in or take out Italian. For my taste, it has become my go to for take out/delivery.
                                                                    Villa Gennaro 75 Rt. 27, Edison. Nice decor, good Italian food and pizza.
                                                                    Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet 690 Oak Tree Ave. South Plainfield. I hate these buffets but like this one. For $10.99 you can find something you like. I've sent several people there and they love the place.
                                                                    Italian touch 37 Gill Lane, Iselin Pizzeria type place with ok food.
                                                                    Rice Bowl 37 Gill Lane, Iselin. My go to for Chinese food.
                                                                    There is a little Mexican place on Main St. in Woodbridge. I haven't been there, but a friend that writes a food blog loves the place. I believe there are a few other ethnic places (little dive type eateries that you might find interesting) on Main St.

                                                                    All these places are within 15 minutes of Rahway. Your palate may be way different than mine, but it is certainly better than going to mediocre chain restaurants in the area.

                                                                    1. If you want good Jewish Deli:
                                                                      Hobby's on Brnaford Place in Newark
                                                                      Goodman's on Springfield Ave. in Berkeley Heights.

                                                                      1. Your post is funny!

                                                                        Here are some of my favs...


                                                                        In Elizabeth Portugal Express


                                                                        In Westfield ...

                                                                        For Tex/Mex Mojave Grill (BYO



                                                                        I have not been here in years, but I use to like Amici in Linden for Italian. I rarely ever go out for this, because as you see, there are 10000 plus Italian restaurants. Since it is close to you, thought I would tell you.


                                                                        Once more come to mind...I will post! Good luck!!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Angelina

                                                                          Ah, Angelina. I have been to Portugal Express! We were looking for apartments prior to the move and we ended up there after looking at some crack shacks in Elizabeth. So, all mediocre food except Portugal Express. That place was definitely up to snuff.

                                                                          1. re: Angelina

                                                                            Sorry, but I have to disagree about Mojave Grill...it is old, tired, and I don't know that it qualifies as authentic, either! My two cents.

                                                                            1. re: Curlz

                                                                              Agreed--was just there last week for the first time in years, and while OK, it is nowhere close to what it was 10 years ago.

                                                                            2. re: Angelina

                                                                              Formosa in Newark. For Portuguese. Yum

                                                                            3. I'm the last person to ask if the food is authentic, but here's an old thread that might help you find "real" Mexican:


                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: ambrose

                                                                                It's really quite simple......you go to places where you don't know a word that they're saying (I took French in HS) and you point to what you want. Mojave Grill, Jose Tejas et al are nothing like the natives cook it and really don't qualify as real Mexican..

                                                                              2. Cranford: Kilkenny House - great irish pub, A Toute Haere - nice fine dining
                                                                                New Brunswick - Makeda (Ethiopion, nice, spicy and earthy food), Stage Left (great fine dining), Tumulty's Pub (good american/irish pub), Evelyns (Lebanese)
                                                                                Clark - Thai Restaurant
                                                                                Westfield - Turning Point (good brunch)

                                                                                And although the food is not outstanding, I really like Crossroads for the music and the food is decent.

                                                                                1. Luciano's in Rahway for italian: http://www.lucianosristorante.com/
                                                                                  Mie Thai in Woodbridge for Thai: http://www.miethai.com/
                                                                                  Vicki's Diner in Westfield for fresh and simple: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vickis-...
                                                                                  Royal Seafood in Avenel for Chinese: http://www.yelp.com/biz/royal-seafood...
                                                                                  Rasoi II in Iselin for Indian: http://www.rasoiindianrestaurant.com/

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: cke25

                                                                                    Ok, so I am back from my winter vacation. Back to the frosty hellhole that is NJ! My trip to Fort Lauderdale just enhanced my desire to return.

                                                                                    On a positive note I went to Rasoi II on Oak Tree Road. I got the Goat Kadai and I was content. It was pretty good actually but I coveted my girlfriend's Chicken Makhani. We were the only crackers in there and honestly, one thing South Florida lacks is Indian Cuisine. I had the pleasure of listening to my South Florida coworker incessantly tell me that at least once a week when we went out to lunch.

                                                                                    My girlfriend got a desert where it was basically a donut filled with powdered milk. I wasn't particularly a fan but I insist on savory anyway. The bottom line is that we will return and there is a glimmer of hope for continued redemption and repudiation against my soon to be baseless claims.

                                                                                  2. Bayway Diner in Linden for burgers: http://www.baywaycatering.com/
                                                                                    Spirito's Pizza in Elizabeth for pizza: http://www.yelp.com/biz/spiritos-rest...
                                                                                    Marci's Dog House for italian hot dogs: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/53/161468...
                                                                                    Fujiamamama in Westfield for Japanese: http://www.kpsearch.com/df/fujiyama/a...

                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: cke25

                                                                                      Ah, Spirito's a must for the relocator! The garlic green salad, the ravioli, the chicken parm and a bar pizza!!

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        I ended up going to Spirito's a couple days ago. There were two of us so we just order a pepperoni pie. It was definitely good, but I wished I would have had the stomach room for the ravioli and parm, which is what I saw most of the people ordering at other tables.

                                                                                        The atmosphere of the place was great. Old and rickety wooden benches with equally as old and rickety waitresses. Our waitress tried her best to muster up some New Jersey sass in what was left of her slowly failing body. Pictures of 50+ years passed lining the walls The place had history and charm, that's for sure.

                                                                                        I will have to go back for the ravioli and veal or chicken parm before I can really provide a well-rounded opinion of the place.

                                                                                        1. re: skuzzy

                                                                                          I live in Rahway and I'm not going to go to Elizabeth for a pizza.

                                                                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                            It was only 5 miles from where I was at. Ten minute drive. For once I can actually say "the commute wasn't bad."

                                                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                              I can't say I love the pizza at Spirito's...but your unwillingness to enter Elizabeth would deprive you of one of the best pizza's made in New Jersey....At Al Santillo's.



                                                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                Ok, so a small update. I finally went to Santillo's and I must say that is the best recommendation yet. The pizza is damn good. I ordered a XL pie with pepperoni and ricotta. The pepperoni is actually flavorful and spicy not bland like a lot of these run of the mill pizza joints. The sauce was a touch sweet but not overpowering and a nice thin crust that wasn't burnt to bits. Thanks (as I eat another slice)!

                                                                                                On a side note, I wish someone would have told me it was take out only.

                                                                                              2. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                The pizza is good, however the ravioli are worth the trip. Trust me on this one.

                                                                                              3. re: skuzzy

                                                                                                I just saw your post, skuzzy. It's all about that 50 plus thing for me too and tons of childhood memories that I was happy to share with my husband and kids.

                                                                                                If you love, love garlic, order the salad too. Ravioli and veal parm. I always order a pie just to toast my Dad who was the one to introduce me to Spirito's in the first place.

                                                                                                1. re: skuzzy

                                                                                                  I'm just seeing your review of Spirito's now. I hope you will go back for other menu items, including their garlic salad which is fantastic and quite simple-but a must!

                                                                                                  I have such long standing memories of this place that I can't actually find fault, but I do wish more people would give the place a try.

                                                                                              4. re: cke25

                                                                                                Great informative posts.

                                                                                                I saw Bayway Diner on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. From my experience in South Florida if you listen to Guy Fiere's BS then you're probably going to wind up utterly disappointed (with an exception or so). I went to Yelp! after seeing it and a lot of mentions of Bayway Diner going very downhill after the publicity. Is this true?

                                                                                                1. re: skuzzy

                                                                                                  Don't know about that, but we TOTALLY agree about DDD.
                                                                                                  Want to try an interesting diner? Skylark Diner on Rt 1 in Edison has a very interesting menu! A few years ago they hired one of NJ's best-known high-end chefs to revamp their menu, and they've stuck with interesting choices and good ingredients. NOT a classic NJ diner in that sense. :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: Curlz

                                                                                                    +1 for Skylark. Dang, think I may head there for dinner tonight, if I can talk the in-laws into it.

                                                                                                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                                                                      Completely disagee about Skylark. See my posts from several years ago.

                                                                                                      1. re: albinoni

                                                                                                        Well, we went that night. Everyone liked my suggestion. It's a little on the expensive side for dinner, so I got breakfast for dinner instead. :)

                                                                                                        And albinoni, while I respect your opinion, several years ago, WAS "several years ago." I love the place. Definitely a cut above your average diner.

                                                                                                2. re: cke25

                                                                                                  Not so sure about Fujiyamamama. Have heard some rather "iffy" health-department things. For sushi, head to Nagoya in Westfield. It's a little hole in the wall in the Walgreens strip mall (next to the liquor store). I would do Arirang in Mountainside (not sure if that's out of the travel range) for the hibachi stuff.

                                                                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                    For sushi, much closer is U-Yee Sushi behind the Friday's on Gill Lane in Woodbridge.

                                                                                                3. And don't forget the Belmont Tavern in Belleville...

                                                                                                  Shrimp Beeps (yes, that's what they're called), escarole salad, long hots, and an atmosphere that Hollywood couldn't replicate if they tried!

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Curlz

                                                                                                    Belmont Tavern for "really good food"? Are you serious? The long hots are terrific, but I don't have anything to compare them to because I don't know of anywhere else that has them on the menu. The Chicken Savoy is supposed to be their signature dish, and it's good, I will grant you that. As far as the atmosphere, I don't see how you could possibly recommend a place like that to someone from out of town. The initial fascination with the "Hollywood" setting wears off before the main course arrives. Stretch's in Livingston has the same food and better parking. Belmont Tavern is not an appropriate setting for most people.

                                                                                                    1. re: NYCPA

                                                                                                      I didn't say it was FINE dining... :-) Seriously, though-the handful of times I've been there, I think there was only one dish where I shrugged and thought it was a waste of an order. It's classic Jersey in myriad ways--you can't deny that!

                                                                                                      1. re: Curlz

                                                                                                        There are two comments about Brando's in Asbury Park that I think could easily be said about Belmont Tavern.


                                                                                                        This is the reason, I no longer frequent or recommend Belmont Tavern.

                                                                                                        1. re: NYCPA

                                                                                                          I've heard these kind of rumors about Benito's in Kenilworth also (is it any restaurant whose name starts with a "B"?).

                                                                                                          It's part of living in "The Soprano State". I think skuzzy should embrace it!

                                                                                                  2. I'll reiterate that you will not find a more authentically delicious Thai than the 20 minute ride to Piscataway (So. Plainfield border on #287) to the Four Seasons which I lunched at on Friday (small consolation as I nixed company holiday party all the way up in Carlstadt) and worked.

                                                                                                    It's a hole in the wall, but I'm there for the food and only the food.....Read for yourself


                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: JustJake

                                                                                                      Four Seasons is our go-to place for Thai, been so for over 10 years. If it were in NYC, there would be 2 hour waits.

                                                                                                      Other suggestions in the Rahway vicinity that come to mind--I did not see any requests from the OP for Chinese, but Wonder Seafood in Edison is a destination for anyone seeking the best Hong Kong-Cantonese in NJ. Excellent dim sum on weekends. Also, since chains came up, I have always liked the Bonefish Grill on RT 1 in Woodbridge/Iselin. Plus (and this should make the OP feel like he's back in Fort Lauderdale), they have earlybird (called happy hour) bar specials--d/r whether they discount food, but drinks are half-price.

                                                                                                    2. I just want to thank everyone for their input so far. I will probably not make it out much to report back until after the holidays as I will be going back down to Fort Lauderdale.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: skuzzy

                                                                                                        Oh no I for one expect a review a day of every place that was suggested. Don't pull that "Oh it's the holiday's" with us Jersians.

                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                          Slave-driver! I thought New Jersey was part of the Union.

                                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                            Technically, wouldn't it be "Jerseyans"?

                                                                                                            Or... Joiseyans. :)

                                                                                                        2. No place in the country matches Manhattan, but within 30 minutes of Rahway are many excellent, diverse places. Montclair has tremendous variety--Fascino, Thai Chef, Acapello, Mediterranea, The Wood Pit, Blu, etc

                                                                                                          New Brunswick has Daryl's, Due Mari, Stage Left, Catherine Lombardi, Frog and Peach, Hotoke, Mesob, Brother Jimmy's, etc

                                                                                                          In Rahway, Patria has interesting Latin food--and try Cubanu on Tuesdays, when it is half price.

                                                                                                          Khyber Grill in South Plainfield or Rasoi or Moghul on Oak Tree.

                                                                                                          Chez Catherine in Westfield; Scalini Fedeli in Chatham; Cara Mia in Milburn.

                                                                                                          Jade Isle in Scotch Plains for dim sum; Splash of Thai in Westfield; Lola's Latin Bistro in Metuchen, Maritime Parc in Jersey City.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Nochef

                                                                                                            Seems like you haven't been to Brooklyn lately...

                                                                                                          2. Ming - Oak Tree Road in Edison (there is also a takeout place "Ming Jr." or something like that which is up the road apiece. Same food for like half the price). Haven't been there in years because I do not live in the area. Maybe someone else can confirm that it is still good. I still dream of that manchurian cauliflower dish as well as the duck and lamb.) It is intentionally Chino/Indian so it is not "authentically" one or the other. The spice level was really great too....no gringo-ized underspiced dishes.

                                                                                                            1. Santillos in Elizabeth was a religious experience for me.

                                                                                                              1. Santillos in Elizabeth for Pizza.
                                                                                                                Ursino's in Union
                                                                                                                La Catena in Roselle Park
                                                                                                                Benito's in Union
                                                                                                                Lucianos in Rahway
                                                                                                                The Station in Rahway
                                                                                                                Le Rendovous in Kenilworth
                                                                                                                Sun Tavern Roselle Park for burgers, bar food, thin pizza.
                                                                                                                Joes in union for the best burgers
                                                                                                                New brunswick: Catherine Lombardi, frog and Peach, Stage Left, Clyde's
                                                                                                                Pairings in Cranford
                                                                                                                I could list 100 more!

                                                                                                                It's kind of insulting to base our States palates on Stuff your face (a place for college kids) and the waiting room (a beer and shot place with a often questionable clientele.)

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Jersey Girl227

                                                                                                                  > Lucianos in Rahway

                                                                                                                  I must have driven past there a thousand times and didn't know there was a restaurant there. Looking at Google Streets shows no signage, unless it is located in the back of the building.

                                                                                                                    1. re: drongo

                                                                                                                      I've been to Luciano's only once but never felt the urge to return. There was nothing wrong with the food, and service was excellent, but it just seemed like so many other Italian-American restaurants in New Jersey. Is there something they do particularly well? We're in that area every now and again.

                                                                                                                2. I agree with some of the following posters but need to add the following:

                                                                                                                  For good Jamaican food there is MoBay on Smith St in Perth Amboy http://mobaypa.com/about_us. For good bistro food there is Old Man Rafferty's in New Brunswick http://www.oldmanraffertys.com/direct....

                                                                                                                  For a good bakery in Clark, there is Vaccaro's Bakery.

                                                                                                                  Hope this helps and welcome to the land of the pasty skinned people!

                                                                                                                  1. I feel your pain. I'm from Brooklyn originally, then moved to NJ as a kid. Went on to Fort Lauderdale for a few years, was in NYC for many and back in NJ now for about 15 or so. Live in Rahway now.

                                                                                                                    The restaurants nearby truly are not worth mentioning for the most part. I'm usually disappointed no matter where I go and sadly, my budget has changed dramatically over the years so going to the fancier places is not possible the way it used to be.

                                                                                                                    Having said that I'll offer a few places that I enjoy, including a couple of pricier choices:

                                                                                                                    1. Pizza: Nothing nearby is consistent enough to recommend honestly. I dislike Micholina's personally. Typically we order from Papa Vita's. I like Nancy's thin crust pizza a lot but their regular food is hit or miss. The best pizza I've found is near where my old house is; Genarro's in Westfield. Reminds me of pizza from Brooklyn.

                                                                                                                    2. Thai: Thailand in Clark. No better anywhere that I can think of. In a renovated retro diner. Very busy at times, may have to wait long amounts of time for seating. Come early.
                                                                                                                    BTW we walked out of that Thai Rock or whatever it's called one night, because they ran out of everything. Like wth?

                                                                                                                    3. Bar Food: Ok, yes not haute cuisine but, Flynn's in Rahway is one of those "everybody knows your name" kind of joints, the food is usually good, not great, but I love the people there so for a burger and a beer WAY better than The Waiting Room by a mile.

                                                                                                                    4. French: Chez Catherine. Yep, really great. Gorgeous room. Great service.

                                                                                                                    5. Bagels: Fanwood Bagel. Cash only. Mobbed mornings. Only place nearby I can think of to get decent ones but not a bialy to be had :(

                                                                                                                    6. Sushi: I agree about Nagoya in Westfield. Very fresh, and the other dishes are good too. Owner is very hands on and friendly. Fujiyamama? Wouldn't bother.

                                                                                                                    7. Chinese: My two favorites are in Fanwood - Rice Inn (take out only) and Scotch Plains - Hungs. Rice Inn is the only place I've ever been to that makes Shrimp with Black Pepper, one of my fav dishes. Hungs, very high quality ingredients used and always has nightly specials. Nice dining room.

                                                                                                                    8. Indian: I've eaten at several in Edison, most are pretty good and for the life of me I can't even remember one from the other at the moment. I also really like Neelam in Berkeley Heights, but haven't been in a while so I don't know if it's still as good as it was.

                                                                                                                    9. This area is lacking in decent Mexican food completely. The only one I could recommend is Hacienda, again in Berkeley Heights.

                                                                                                                    10. Locavore: A Toute Heure in Cranford. I adore this restaurant. Can't say enough good about it. Expensive for sure but fresh, and innovative, great service, lovely room and outside dining in good weather. Nearly perfect in all ways.

                                                                                                                    Ok I'll stop there. You notice I didn't even bother with Italian. There is so much of it everywhere and this too, well, most is adequate, some really bad but I haven't found any that I consider great. Luciano's has gone down as far as I'm concerned since it opened. I'm hoping that Ferraro's in Westfield, which was burned down in a fire, will be as good as it was once reopened (might be already, I haven't driven by in a while).

                                                                                                                    Of course, I haven't been everywhere by any means. I used to eat out a lot more than I do now. I rely on my own kitchen skills these days way more :)

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                      Great list and it's so nice to see you here.

                                                                                                                    2. Skuzzy - I moved out to New Jersey from St. Louis and agree that the cost of food is way too much and the quality mediocre at best. I've found things that I like better in the Cherry Hill area. Princeton, where I live, is so over-rated and over priced for it's restaurant selection. Good luck...BTW - I think you have to try White Castle when you are still a kid to get the flavor of it. . . :) I was relieved to see a White Castle here. They are all over in StL!

                                                                                                                      Good luck

                                                                                                                      1. Haven't seen any mention of Tony's Pizza at 1085 Broadway near the Clark border. My family has gotten their strombolis for years and they're the best.

                                                                                                                        1. Hi,

                                                                                                                          I was born and raised in NYC and consider myself spoiled when it comes to food. I've been in Rahway now for ten years and these are my findings in the general area:

                                                                                                                          PIZZA in Rahway - PLUM TOMATO formerly known as Papa Vito's

                                                                                                                          MEXICAN - Your only hope is to take a ride to CASA MAYA in MEYERSVILLE about 25 minutes away from Rahway.
                                                                                                                          When there, order Shrimp Oaxacanos you'll never forget it!

                                                                                                                          MEAT - I've never enjoyed anything nearby. If I'm craving meat it's either FERNANDES STEAKHOUSE in the Ironbound section of NEWARK for Rodizio (mixed grilled meats) or ARTHURS in NORTH BRUNSWICK for "Our Steak" which is a delicious 24oz. Delmonico for about $24.95

                                                                                                                          INDIAN - URBAN SPICE in ISELIN the lunch buffet is second to none in the area, and only $11.95

                                                                                                                          ITALIAN - I've never liked the quality or pricing at any local places, but will go to TARANTELLAS in CLARK or BERTUCCI'S (a chain) in WOODBRIDGE for less expensive but pleasant Italian food. There's also SPIRITO'S in ELIZABETH for home style Italian.

                                                                                                                          SUSHI - at this moment my go to Sushi place is MAKOTO in AVENEL I find it to be the best quality to value place around. U-YEE in WOODBRIDGE is also good, but why pay more!

                                                                                                                          DINER - SKYLARK in EDISON

                                                                                                                          Happy dining!

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: StoryWalkin

                                                                                                                            I'd pass on Tarentella's. Several times, we got pieces of glass or other things in our food. First time, ok, you think it's a mistake. Second, unfortunate event. Third? Never went back again.

                                                                                                                          2. are u kidding? so much good food in NJ. Depends on what your in the mood for. Yelp is a great resource for finding places. a few of my favorites - Portugal express in elizabeth. Petite soo chow in Cliffside Park. Elm street BBq in ironbound Newark. Landmark Diner in edison. Tops Diner in East Newark. Firehouse pub in Rahway wasnt bad either. A few columbian places in Union. Brisas Colombianas. Fernandos 3 steakhouse in South Amboy. I could keep going. but as a foodie I would be here forever. Good Luck!

                                                                                                                            1. Try the following towns for good eats


                                                                                                                              Good Luck

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: NancyK18

                                                                                                                                We're from Central NJ meeting some friends from No NJ - would like to have dinner in or around the Westfield/Cranford area.

                                                                                                                                Fish is preferred
                                                                                                                                Italian would be good
                                                                                                                                BYO is good
                                                                                                                                Have eatin at the Mojave Grill in Westfield - find it mediocre and I love New Mexican food.

                                                                                                                                I see a couple of other places that might be good
                                                                                                                                A Toute Heure

                                                                                                                                are there any others I should consider - what's your opinion of the two I mentioned?