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Where are the Northern Jerseyans?

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scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 02:17 PM

All the posts seem to be about Monmouth county restaurants. I read about Westchester and northern NJ boards combining. Did I miss that? Just seems like it's all about the Shore and nothing about Essex, Bergen, etc.

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    ebchower RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 02:43 PM

    One factor may be that New York City is readily accessible to North Jersey.

    14 Replies
    1. re: ebchower
      Monica RE: ebchower Oct 9, 2013 02:46 PM

      Exactly. When we eat out, we eat out in Manhattan.

      1. re: Monica
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        ebchower RE: Monica Oct 9, 2013 02:50 PM

        My parents live in Bergen. Next week is their 50th anniversary and they want to go to dinner in NY.

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        ELA RE: ebchower Oct 10, 2013 04:55 AM

        very accessible, depending on where you are. I lived in Fort Lee for 20 plus years and really viewed it as living in the 6th boro of Manhattan. Going into NYC for me was nothing. It was even a thought. But there are people who live in "Northern" NJ and are an hour away from NYC. Some view that as nothing and others view that as a major excursion.

        It's a matter of convenience, and that of course is a relative term, but accessibility is a factor. I don't think it's because there aren't very good restaurants in Northern NJ. Only a very few people believe that, and I am sure they will let everyone know that...over and over again. LOL.

        1. re: ebchower
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          double0 RE: ebchower Oct 10, 2013 01:02 PM

          But your in for $35-$40(tolls and parking) before you get to the resto. Besides the parking hassle.

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            ELA RE: double0 Oct 10, 2013 01:06 PM

            True, that can be a deterent for some people. If I want a nice night out in NYC, I don't think about parking, tolls, etc. -- but that's just me. It's the price of admission, LOL.

            I do like places that offer parking, valet, etc.

            On that note -- I am itching for the Old Homestead...and they have valet parking. LOL.

            1. re: ELA
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              fourunder RE: ELA Oct 10, 2013 01:17 PM

              I was at The Old Homestead a couple of months back....two hours indoor parking around the corner cost $55.

              1. re: fourunder
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                ELA RE: fourunder Oct 10, 2013 01:18 PM

                They do valet...don't they still do that?

                1. re: fourunder
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                  ELA RE: fourunder Oct 10, 2013 01:27 PM

                  Actually, I think they are only offering valet on the weekends or on busy nights. They do validate parking though if you park on your own in that lot on 15th St. (between 9th and 10th).

                  1. re: ELA
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                    fourunder RE: ELA Oct 10, 2013 01:38 PM

                    They very well may offer Valet or Validation....but I did not notice any signs of it near the entrance....only the tables on the sidewalk. I was also there on a Saturday evening and did not notice any signs or postings of validation offers. If they had, I'm sorry I missed them. It would have been ice to save the $55. I'll have to remember to look out for next time.

                    On a similar note, that's one reason why I love Peter Luger....you park right across the street in the fenced lot and you hand a guy a sawbuck....your car is safe while you dine.

                2. re: ELA
                  jrvedivici RE: ELA Oct 11, 2013 11:26 AM

                  In every respectful way possible I would just like to say, "That is an itch I would LOVE to scratch!"

                  FYI there is a Hotel one block away from the Old Homestead called the Gansevoort which has a roof top lounge/bar. The combination of these locations have been a destination of mine many dozens of times over the years.

                  http://www.gansevoorthotelgroup.com/h...

                  Just a FYI, Ben and Jack's Steakhouse has taken it's place as my favorite NY City Steakhouse. It is on 5th Ave (other location under construction) and one block away is 230th 5th Ave, roof top bar and lounge. The Gansevoort has great water views however 230th 5th is just a few blocks away from the Empire State Building. Having a cocktail basking in the light of the Empire State Building looming over you is a pretty impressive experience. They are open year round, and starting this time of year they have many out door heaters and thick robes you can wear if you are chilly. (can you tell I like going there? LOL) .

                  http://www.230-fifth.com/

                  I am literally here once or twice a month.

                  1. re: ELA
                    Monica RE: ELA Oct 11, 2013 11:32 AM

                    I miss working for my old company. Our CEO took us to Old Homestead once a year.

                    1. re: Monica
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                      scarlet knight RE: Monica Oct 12, 2013 05:33 AM

                      We went to Collichio and Company on Tenth Avenue for my wife's birthday last night and we enjoyed it. Very good food and the best service.

                      However, took 2 hours to drive in and parking was $25. Only 35 minutes to go home. Our reservation was for 7:30pm. Next time on a Friday or Saturday, we may go continental and get a 9pm res to avoid rush hour to some degree.

                      1. re: scarlet knight
                        mtlcowgirl RE: scarlet knight Oct 13, 2013 11:33 AM

                        Driving in NYC is assisted suicide. When either or both my husband and I ventured into the city, we took the train, then the subway. PATH is good too, if you can stand it.

                        1. re: scarlet knight
                          Monica RE: scarlet knight Oct 14, 2013 06:29 AM

                          parking for $25 in the city is very good. my husband and I both work in the city so we often eat out early on friday nights then take the bus from Port authority. This way, we don't have to worry about the car and getting a bit drunk. =)
                          Even on weekends when we come into the city with 2 little kids(5 and 15 months), we often take bus and subway. The little ones love taking buses and subways.

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                  fourunder RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 03:49 PM

                  There are plenty of good places to eat in Northern New Jersey....however, we have a couple of posters who think they know better than everyone else and knock others recommendations.....they also like to disparage restaurants they clearly have never been to. I'm sure for many, it's just not worth posting.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fourunder
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                    ELA RE: fourunder Oct 10, 2013 04:50 AM

                    I agree with this 1000%...making someone "wrong" for the sake of doing so, being right, etc. is very transparent. Personally, I think it brings down the "tone" of the entire room, and it carries from thread to thread. It hinders people from "wanting" to post.

                    As far as knocking restaurants that you haven't been too, well, I haven't picked up on that a lot (maybe someone said I heard, my friends said, etc.) because there are certain people whose posts I just don't bother reading at all. I call it the mental/manual ignore. However, someone knocking restaurants they haven't been to speaks volumes. Thanks.

                    1. re: ELA
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                      Snorkelvik RE: ELA Nov 6, 2013 09:51 AM

                      I agree too. I can think of one particular poster who delights in engaging in stupid, pedantic arguments with innocent participants who are just sharing their opinion or experience.

                      It adds nothing to the conversation. It's infuriating.

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                    bropaul RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 04:05 PM

                    I have asked myself the same question over and over. I live in Northern NJ, an hour away from NYC. I do not go into the city regularly to eat and really want to know what other Hounders think about places in Northern NJ.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bropaul
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                      ELA RE: bropaul Oct 10, 2013 11:34 AM

                      I think "North" Jersey has plenty of excellent restaurants...different strokes for different folks. Are the "best" of NNJ going to stack up against the "best" of NYC? In most people's eyes, probably not, but that's OK. I have places on my "favorites" list where NJ wins, but that's just me.

                      I listed a bunch of places in my post below.

                      I don't think there is a shortage of restaurants in Northern NJ where I can go, enjoy an excellent meal, have a great time, a very good experience, etc. -- not at all!

                    2. MOREKASHA RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 04:14 PM

                      I live in Manhattan and just moved my business to Teterboro. This board seems to be populated by folks discussing either south Jersey or chains. Bummer.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: MOREKASHA
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                        ELA RE: MOREKASHA Oct 9, 2013 08:25 PM

                        I think it's a "shore" spike.

                      2. Curlz RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 06:04 PM

                        SK, you and I have both posted on here for quite some time, and I agree with you, but it's a very recent phenomenon-not sure if the shore is just bouncing back do there's more to discuss or if the folks in central NJ just have more new stuff to discuss, but I've noticed as well.
                        I live all of 10 miles outside of NYC but I'm not going in to the city to eat with any regularity, nor are my friends/family--it's expensive and far more time-consuming! It's not that we don't go, but we don't go often.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Curlz
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                          ELA RE: Curlz Oct 9, 2013 08:26 PM

                          Yes, recent phenomenon to some extent. I also think Central/Southern NJ is a more vast geographic area.

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                          HillJ RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 06:58 PM

                          Please start a post for Northern Jersey!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ
                            equal_Mark RE: HillJ Oct 9, 2013 08:11 PM

                            Isn't that what this thread is?

                            1. re: equal_Mark
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                              HillJ RE: equal_Mark Oct 9, 2013 08:14 PM

                              No, this thread is about wishing there were more posts about restaurants in Northern NJ and observing that a great deal is discussed, recommended and shared about the Shore & Mon cty. Everyone here posting to that has a valid point but why not just post a few recommendations? That's what I meant by comment above.

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                            ELA RE: scarlet knight Oct 9, 2013 08:24 PM

                            I think there is a dynamic with "shore" places due to Sandy and the recovery. It's human nature and I've seen it elsewhere. That said, I have no problem with a "spike" in activity about "shore" places...it's a good thing.

                            As far as Northern NJ, what are we talking about here? People who live in Montvale (borders Pearl River)? Fort Lee (GWB)? Mahwah (borders Suffern)? My point is that "Northern" NJ can be a vast area. Regardless, personally, I feel there are excellent places to eat throughout Bergen County. However, I feel there are a number of people here on the board who: a) are always right and want to make others wrong, and put forth their opinion as fact, b) insult, trivialize, and demean others opinions, c) are visceral in saying "there are no quality, good, etc. restaurants in Bergen County" (and comments like that), d) are outright rude and offensive...

                            Be that as it may, sure, many people from Northern NJ opt for NYC...and understandably so. Are there people who will always go to NYC. Sure. However, for the masses, there are many options here in Bergen County. They are besmirched by some, but not by most, but it doesn't mean there aren't plenty of high quality, very good options.

                            The "Northern" NJ people are here...just a lot of other activity going on. The "North" will bounce back, LOL.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: ELA
                              Monica RE: ELA Oct 9, 2013 08:29 PM

                              Can you recommend some good restaurants in bergen county? Another reason why people in northern tend to eat out in Manhattan may be because alot of people work in the city so more convenient. ..like my husband and me.

                              1. re: Monica
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                                ELA RE: Monica Oct 9, 2013 08:48 PM

                                Yes, convenience is a factor, so I get that. Some of my favorite Northern NJ places...River Palm (Edgewater), Assembly (Englewood Cliffs), Cafe Panache (Ramsey), St. Eve (Ho-Ho-Kus), Savini (Allendale), Varka (Ramsey), Chakra (Paramus), Chef's Table (Franklin Lakes), Cafe Matisse (Rutherford), Lu Nello (Cedar Grove), Rebecca's (Edgewater), Capital Grille (Paramus), and several more...

                                1. re: Monica
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                                  Picnicchef RE: Monica Oct 13, 2013 11:17 AM

                                  North Jersey has a lot of fine restaurants, IMHO. Cafe Matisse, Cafe Panache, Varka, Axia, Oceanas, Culinariane, Blu, River Palm (Edgewater), Sergios (in Clifton, fab italian
                                  )

                                  1. re: Picnicchef
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                                    ELA RE: Picnicchef Oct 14, 2013 06:50 AM

                                    Agreed on Oceanos -- very good, and underrated IMO.

                                    1. re: Picnicchef
                                      njmarshall55 RE: Picnicchef Oct 25, 2013 12:26 PM

                                      Great list. I'll second Oceanos. Of course, I remember when it was Kind's Dairy, so places come and go.

                                      1. re: njmarshall55
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                                        ELA RE: njmarshall55 Oct 25, 2013 12:35 PM

                                        I don't remember that, but I do remember Peter's Whale.

                                        1. re: ELA
                                          RUK RE: ELA Oct 26, 2013 05:03 PM

                                          So, when do we have lunch at Benny's?

                                          1. re: RUK
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                                            ELA RE: RUK Oct 27, 2013 12:30 PM

                                            I liked the original Benny's (the original location). I know he sold the place and the new owner kept everything as is...or at least he tried to as close as possible. I don't know what happened to the place or even if it's still there.

                                            I am not sure when, but after the original location was sold...the original owner who sold it opened up a new place -- maybe in Glen Rock? I don't remember and I am sorry to say I've never been there (this new place with the original owner).

                                            Is this what you are referring to? Thanks.

                                            1. re: ELA
                                              RUK RE: ELA Oct 27, 2013 02:19 PM

                                              It seems the new owners do well in Benny's old location on Saddle River Road. Yes, it is still there and the parking lot is usually packed.
                                              I don't know about the true Benny opening a new place - in Glen Rock or elsewhere. I thought Benny's father used to have a bakery many years ago in Glen Rock.

                                              1. re: RUK
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                                                ELA RE: RUK Oct 30, 2013 08:26 PM

                                                I think the father might have. I had heard something like that as well. I do know his father used to come in to Benny's and he made the babkas -- and they were big sellers.

                                            2. re: RUK
                                              njmarshall55 RE: RUK Oct 30, 2013 06:43 PM

                                              And bagels from across the street. Used to run up there at lunchtime when I was at TJ down on Morlot....MANY years ago.

                                            3. re: ELA
                                              njmarshall55 RE: ELA Oct 30, 2013 06:40 PM

                                              The Whale came after Kind's Dairy. Used to run our dog in the field behind there...he'd chase rabbits and get a good workout. My uncle got off the bus there, picked up a gallon of ice cream and we'd meet him at our grandparent's house on Brookside Ave.

                                              1. re: njmarshall55
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                                                Picnicchef RE: njmarshall55 Oct 31, 2013 06:23 AM

                                                I remember the Whale well, especially when it was where Turvino's was, and then it moved. I can't remember Kind's Dairy, although I probably should!

                                                1. re: Picnicchef
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                                                  ELA RE: Picnicchef Oct 31, 2013 07:09 AM

                                                  I never knew Peter's Whale was over there (where Turvino's is/was). By the time I found Turvino's, it was in that shopping center (by the liquor store, Kosher Nosh, etc). Thanks.

                                                  I think Turvino's was "the local" pizza place, so they did well

                                      2. re: ELA
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                                        fourunder RE: ELA Oct 9, 2013 08:34 PM

                                        Hopefully, you were not describing me....but, I agree wholeheartedly with you...and I bet the ones who think they are superior will not chime in.

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                                        ebchower RE: scarlet knight Oct 10, 2013 08:02 AM

                                        I wonder if the Super Bowl will have an effect on the North Jersey dining scene, temporarily or more permanently. It should be a boon for at least some local places.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ebchower
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                                          ELA RE: ebchower Oct 10, 2013 08:31 AM

                                          You always hear these monster figures that the Super Bowl means one trillion dollars (LOL) for local businesses and the local economy. I am sure there is a benefit, but between the hidden and trickle-down costs I don't know what the real benefit is. Even if you owned a business in town, I am not so sure it's so easy to figure out, LOL.

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                                          double0 RE: scarlet knight Oct 10, 2013 12:59 PM

                                          N.E Bergen
                                          Davey's and the new 15 Grand in Montvale for excellent burgers
                                          Grange in Westwood for "new American"
                                          Osso Buco in Hillsdale for red sauce Italian
                                          Almost any where in Pal Park or Ft Lee for Korean food.
                                          Gen in Woodcliffe Lake for sushi
                                          Karavalli in Nanuet(NY) for top notch Indian.
                                          These are just a few in my very local neighborhood.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: double0
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                                            ELA RE: double0 Oct 14, 2013 06:51 AM

                                            Davey's -- a classic for burgers. Karavalli is well known far and wide (not Northern NJ but close enough and worth it!).

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                                            scarlet knight RE: scarlet knight Oct 12, 2013 05:30 AM

                                            Here's what is on our NJ rotation: Culinariane,Escape, Fin, Ah Pizz, Brick Lane, Costanera, A Toute Heure, Modo Mio (Bergen Blvd.), Solmar (Ironbound), Chengdu 23 (Cedar Grove).

                                            We have relatives in Bergen, Middlesex and Somerset counties, so we are on the lookout for meeting places there.

                                            We are taking nominations for good sushi in Northern NJ. I go to the Sushi Lounge in Morristown for lunch at work and that is good, but would like to know of others.

                                            Glad to pump up our Northern posters! We have learned a lot from others' suggestions over the years.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: scarlet knight
                                              Curlz RE: scarlet knight Oct 12, 2013 07:22 AM

                                              SK, there's a post on the board about the return of Tomo (sushi)--friends who are VERY serious about sushi loved his place in Little Falls, which closed years ago. My understanding is that he's back and open in South Orange, so you might check that out!

                                              1. re: Curlz
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                                                scarlet knight RE: Curlz Oct 13, 2013 05:08 AM

                                                I thought Tomo opened near the big movie theater on Route 10 in East Hanover? I will investigate and report back!

                                                1. re: scarlet knight
                                                  Curlz RE: scarlet knight Oct 13, 2013 06:13 AM

                                                  So sorry--you're right! That's where he is. Sorry for the confusion

                                              2. re: scarlet knight
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                                                ELA RE: scarlet knight Oct 12, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                I'll give you two recommendations for sushi in Ridgewood...Masago and Sakura Bana...check 'em out...both excellent sushi. Good luck and enjoy.

                                              3. RUK RE: scarlet knight Oct 12, 2013 05:53 AM

                                                I am in Bergen County!!
                                                Unfortunately I can't contribute much about the restaurants around here, since I truly prefer to cook myself. But there are plenty good places to eat around here, Ridgewood alone should make people happy when it comes to eating out.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: RUK
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                                                  ELA RE: RUK Oct 12, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                  Agreed on Ridgewood...

                                                2. Curlz RE: scarlet knight Oct 12, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                  My go-tos:

                                                  -Blu, Bluestone Cafe, Next Door, Red Eye Cafe,and Samba in Montclair
                                                  -Chengdu 23 (Wayne) and Chengdu 1 (Cedar Grove) for Szechuan
                                                  -Seabra's Marisqueria, Adega Grill, and Casa Vasca in Newark
                                                  -Stamna in Bloomfield
                                                  -Pairings Palate + Plate in Cranford
                                                  -Hunan Taste and Denville Dairy in Denville
                                                  -Skylark Diner in Edison

                                                  Other favorites NOT in NNJ:
                                                  -Porta and Taka in Asbury Park
                                                  -The Starving Artist in Ocean Grove (for breakfast)
                                                  -Mossuto's in Wall
                                                  -The Scone Pony in Spring Lake

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                                                    Boomalicious RE: scarlet knight Oct 24, 2013 10:01 AM

                                                    Northern Jersey in the house!!! No shortage of great food around here.

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                                                      ELA RE: scarlet knight Oct 24, 2013 11:28 AM

                                                      Had an excellent dinner at Savini recently. Also had an excellent dinner at Varka.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: ELA
                                                        Curlz RE: ELA Oct 24, 2013 12:49 PM

                                                        Where is Savini?? What kind of food?

                                                        1. re: Curlz
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                                                          ELA RE: Curlz Oct 24, 2013 09:23 PM

                                                          Savini is Allendale...top notch in every respect -- food, flavor, taste, service, etc. Nice ambiance, a bit toward "fine dining" so to speak. Very nice.

                                                          Very good, excellent Italian food...some people say "traditional" -- and not in a bad way, not at all! Some people say "authentic" -- but there is a creative flair to some of the dishes and specials. IMO, one of the best Italian restaurants in Bergen County.

                                                          1. re: ELA
                                                            Curlz RE: ELA Oct 25, 2013 01:22 PM

                                                            Thanks! Wasn't familiar with Savini.

                                                        2. re: ELA
                                                          equal_Mark RE: ELA Oct 24, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                          Where is Varka? What kind of food?

                                                          1. re: equal_Mark
                                                            PuniceaRana RE: equal_Mark Oct 24, 2013 03:17 PM

                                                            Varka is located at 30 N Spruce St, in Ramsey, and serves Greek/Mediterranean food.

                                                            Savini is located at 168 Crescent Sve, Allendale, and it serves Italian fare.

                                                            1. re: equal_Mark
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                                                              ELA RE: equal_Mark Oct 24, 2013 09:28 PM

                                                              Varka is in Ramsey...it's an upscale Greek/Fish/Seafood place...overall -- high quality, very well executed dishes...very popular and well known for excellent fish dishes -- fresh, high-quality and very well executed.

                                                          2. njmarshall55 RE: scarlet knight Oct 25, 2013 12:28 PM

                                                            No mention of diners? And you call yourself a Jersey-ite? Just kidding. Grew up in Fair Lawn and have seen No. NJ change alot over the years.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: njmarshall55
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                                                              ELA RE: njmarshall55 Oct 25, 2013 12:35 PM

                                                              Oh boy, here comes the diner discussion...LOL.

                                                              1. re: ELA
                                                                njmarshall55 RE: ELA Oct 31, 2013 04:30 PM

                                                                I hope not. Too many to discuss. Like a fave ball team? Everyone has one, but noone wants to hear about it.

                                                            2. Monica RE: scarlet knight Oct 25, 2013 01:33 PM

                                                              To me, most of the restaurants in NJ serve pretty boring food...plus all my past experiences with NJ restaurants(notably Grissini of Englewood cliffs and Searhouse in Closter, and few others in Edgewater) have been pretty bad..Grissini being the worst restaurant I have ever been to in my life. Most of the atmosphere is...how should I say...is quite boring as well. I kept thinking, i don't belong here.
                                                              I have looked at the restaurants mentioned below here but to me, most of them made me yawn...another steak or seafood house with good view..another italian restaurant with red sauce...yawn....

                                                              33 Replies
                                                              1. re: Monica
                                                                Curlz RE: Monica Oct 26, 2013 07:42 AM

                                                                Fair enough--so I'm curious...what restaurants DO you like?

                                                                1. re: Curlz
                                                                  Monica RE: Curlz Oct 28, 2013 10:46 AM

                                                                  Anything other than steak or seafood restaurant and italian restaurant with red sauce..
                                                                  I like something more creative and interesting.

                                                                  1. re: Monica
                                                                    Curlz RE: Monica Oct 28, 2013 06:12 PM

                                                                    Then you need to try Blu in Montclair.

                                                                    And for the record, I'm with you; steak and red-sauce Italian just doesn't impress me--but Blu does. EVERY time. Get a good bottle of wine and someone you like and go!

                                                                    1. re: Curlz
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                                                                      ELA RE: Curlz Oct 28, 2013 08:23 PM

                                                                      Agreed...

                                                                      1. re: Curlz
                                                                        Monica RE: Curlz Oct 29, 2013 06:36 AM

                                                                        A bit far from where I am in Tenafly but the menu sounds delicious! thanks for the recommendation.

                                                                      2. re: Monica
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                                                                        fourunder RE: Monica Oct 28, 2013 09:33 PM

                                                                        I cannot disagree with you that there are many mediocre Italian restaurants that proliferate the Northern New Jersey landscape....however, my experience is in the higher end Italian, even even old staples, their menus are not dominated by Red Sauce entrees.

                                                                        I will also say, I find plain, simple and rustic food very satisfying as well in many of these places.

                                                                        1. re: fourunder
                                                                          Monica RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 06:34 AM

                                                                          It's not that I don't like simple rustic food..I love all sorts of food as long as it's good but when the restaurant menu is too predictable and plain, the whole dining experience of eating out sort of gets boring and looses its charm..

                                                                          1. re: Monica
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                                                                            fourunder RE: Monica Oct 29, 2013 08:33 AM

                                                                            There will always be winner and loser menu items....but you must realize, when a person opens a restaurant, presumably they offer items that fall in line with their strengths that will please the masses, not a minority. While some like yourself are looking for something creative with quality ingredients.....others just want to eat. Most of the new places try to be different, but they seldom last more than a few years, which is easily statistically proven....the boring places are the ones that last longer because their food is predictable and there are usually no complaints.

                                                                            1. re: fourunder
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                                                                              ELA RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 09:07 AM

                                                                              Good point. Your "staple" and "stable" or reliable, same ol same ol kind of places that have been around forever...sure, they last.

                                                                              I think you bring up a good point -- trying to be new, different, creative, etc. Does that novelty eventually wear off? Can it become same ol same ol and transition into that other category? Rhetorical questions.

                                                                              I do think there are some "new" or "creative" places out there, places that use high-quality ingredients, that change things up, and so on. I put St. Eve into that category. Steve Christianson has been "doing it" -- and doing it right -- for a long time; at Cafe Panache, and then Citrus Grille. Now at St. Eve he's doing it again -- high quality ingredients, a lot of flavor, creative flair, taste galore, and so on.

                                                                              People tell me the same thing about Chef's Table. I still think Cafe Panache is doing it right and doing it well.

                                                                              Excellent point, thanks.

                                                                              1. re: ELA
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                                                                                fourunder RE: ELA Oct 29, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                                                All the places you mention have one thing in common....the same commander in the kitchen for each endeavor or reincarnation....because they are the owners. Certainly great restaurants can be achieved, but just because a chef can cook does not mean they know how to run a restaurant or business.. This is where the other restaurants fail....often beginning when they sign into a (BAD) lease. Unless the owner really has control of his kitchen, that's when the mishaps begin. The biggest culprit is the lack of pride in the product by staff and the turnover in the kitchen all fueled by someone's ego. Another problem is You go to a restaurant and love the place because you enjoyed one specific dish....the next time you go, the cook that made it last time is now on a day off...now it doesn't taste the same...worse is if the chef/cook leaves for greener pastures or other personal reasons.....now the whole kitchen has changed it's dynamics and personality...it may not be worse, but different and no longer what you have come to expect...so in a way predictability really is a good thing.

                                                                                Grissini has been singled out....and the history of the restaurant has had many different Executive Chefs....some stayed a while, while others have left after very short stays....There's no arguing the owner is very demanding. With regards to the quality of the restaurant...he's catering to his clientele...who are of an older affluent generation who cannot eat the rich foods and cannot comprehend the excess of what modern diners demand for the best meals. Their philosophy is simply to use quality ingredients in a more simplistic approach and it has worked very successfully......and their offshoot inspired restaurants have followed the same approach with much success.. One thing about that the Route 9W corridor that aids in its success is the location. There used to be a number prestigious Country Clubs in the area...but now they are down to arguably just three. Many of the membership of these golf clubs reside in NYC or Fort Lee, so it's very convenient for many....and one point not taken into consideration for their popularity has nothing to do with their food, but simply as a place where the clientele can meet up conveniently with other friends and members. It's the only reason why the Assembly was able to survive all these years in my opinion.....and recently, I read that the the owner of Grissini had worked out a deal to purchase the Assembly for big bucks and transform it into another concept, and also to renovate the existing Grissini.....no doubt due to the fact he knows exactly what his market and customer base already is....and will be.

                                                                                This is not a businessmodel developed by the owner of Grissini, but one from past...most notably on this corridor was from the old Leo's on the current Assembly location.

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                                                                                  ELA RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                                                  Excellent points. I wasn't speaking to the business side of the equation, but you are correct. When that discussion takes place, much of it speculation as none of us write the checks, know the expenses, etc., for a specific place, let's say in this case, St. Eve. Sure, there are many people here who are in the business -- but it's hard to know the real who, what, where, when, why, and how.

                                                                                  But I agree with everything you said, and again, they are all excellent points. I can't speak to Grissini and their motives, model, etc. -- as I don't go there very often. It's even more rare recently, but the last time I was there, nothing changed. I know they have gone through a lot of chefs. If they are attaining their goal, motives, etc., and they are doing it well, I guess they'll be around for a long time. LOL.

                                                                                  As far as Grissini and the Assembly -- Tony has "wanted" the Assembly for a while now. It was no secret, and whatever efforts he has made, they are not new. I don't know if a deal has been done or not.

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                                                                                    fourunder RE: ELA Oct 29, 2013 11:32 AM

                                                                                    http://www.northjersey.com/food_dinin...

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                                                                                      ELA RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                                                      Nice piece and story. I missed that one, so thanks for posting it.

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                                                                                        fourunder RE: ELA Oct 29, 2013 12:23 PM

                                                                                        We used to belong to the same Golf Club ....and we played many times along with his brother and wife....He certainly is a character.

                                                                                      2. re: fourunder
                                                                                        Monica RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 12:17 PM

                                                                                        Exactly...pinstripe suit with bad ugly flash ties..i've seen a lot of those when I dined there last time.

                                                                                        "I serve the right food for the right price," he says. - See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/food_dinin...

                                                                                        yeah right, i ordered today's special appetizer which consisted of beef steak tomatoes and sliced mozzarella for $18 or more..i just remember getting upset for paying so much for sliced tomatoes and not so good mozzarella cheese.

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                                                                                          fourunder RE: Monica Oct 29, 2013 12:35 PM

                                                                                          I can tell you that I was not one of those badly dressed patron you describe....and I fully appreciate and respect your views and am not trying to change your opinion either...just maybe give you a little insight to other enjoy it and why you see the lot full all the time ...I have a friend who was totally offended by the charge of $28 for a side or Rissoto charged for a side substitution, so it can certainly be expensive, but this friend also does not understand whether a side, an appetizer or dinner, the cost of the food is really insignificant for the size of the portion, the cost is determined by the labor to cook the dish and the stock made to prepare the disn....the key to really enjoying yourself here of the other similar places is to treat is as a place where you can get a quality meal by sharing a few entrees with others...not just by ordering a la carte for each patron. That's the way the regulars do it....and their check averages are reduced by 25-50% to lessen the blow.

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                                                                                            ELA RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 12:59 PM

                                                                                            He was charged $28 for a side of risotto? Charged for a side substitution?

                                                                                            I understand the cost of labor, materials/ingredients, equipment, etc., however there does have to be some factor as one of the elements -- the cost of the actual food/ingredients -- is going to be less for a side than an appetizer. Sure, the actual risotto used is inexpensive, so I do see your point and I think people overlook that. X amount for a side, and Y amount (perhaps double or more) for an entree -- hence the entree is more expensive (perhaps double or more).

                                                                                            Now, I do understand the cost of the food is certainly related to the portion/size. Labor is a fixed cost and of course that factors in. They are all components of the equation.

                                                                                            I guess if a few people share entrees it's cheaper than everyone ordering a la carte (4 dishes as opposed to 5 perhaps), if that's what you are suggesting. Thanks again.

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                                                                                              fourunder RE: ELA Oct 29, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                                                              Yup, 28 bucks for s side substitution...

                                                                                              And yes....more apps and less entree is generally they way they order here.....just like at Dinallo, Solari and Sanzari....i.e the regulars.

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                                                                                                ELA RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 09:56 PM

                                                                                                Got it. Thanks.

                                                                                                So is Dinallo still open due to the bankruptcy/sheriff's auction?

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                                                                                                  fourunder RE: ELA Oct 30, 2013 12:17 AM

                                                                                                  There's some legal maneuvering going on...but it doesn't look good for Dinallo. If the bankruptcy is granted, it may give him a a very small lifeline to come out with something. If you believe the published reports, he owes a lot and may owe even more if it is determined he defrauded Sanzari, Bankruptcy was his only option from a financial position....he may not be able to escape anything more serious..

                                                                                                  It's a pretty good bet Del Gatto and Sanzari will both find a way to make a play should there ever be a Trustee sale for the license.....provided they are legally able to do so. They both were frequent visitors there and know the place intimately as a result.. all three were close friends before the problems surfaced.

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                                                                                                    ELA RE: fourunder Oct 30, 2013 04:44 AM

                                                                                                    Yes, I am familiar with the maneuvering -- the auction and efforts to avoid or delay it, and no, it doesn't look good. The bankruptcy filing was a smart move, perhaps the only move, as it put a hold on everything and bought time.

                                                                                                    I know the one case -- which took Dinallo out of the SHI -- did conclude with Dinallo owing Sanzari a lot of money, and yes, it could be more after the accounting.

                                                                                                    If the license is sold -- whether it be part of the bankruptcy process or otherwise -- a trustee is looking to get the highest price. Period. I am not sure if they care who they sell to. If it's a legitimate process and sale, I don't know if someone would be precluded from trying to buy it. If there are other restrictions, etc., that have nothing to do with the person, that's another story and I don't know what the specifics are with the town and the like,

                                                                                                    Thanks.

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                                                                                                      fourunder RE: ELA Oct 30, 2013 09:36 AM

                                                                                                      The restriction would be....you cannot own more than two licenses in the State of NJ....I believe that statue is still in place.

                                                                                                      If it comes down to money...I'll bet on Mr. Sanzari.. I've been to Trustee sales before and they could be had for as little as a couple of thousand dollars in a place like Jersey City or Newark. I have no idea of what the current value of the license is in River Edge, but I would surmise at least $250K The property is worthless without the license, so I would imagine that the owner of that would participate as well...or strike a deal with whoever has interest.

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                                                                                                        dock RE: fourunder Oct 30, 2013 11:17 AM

                                                                                                        this is all second hand info but i believe there are 3 liquor licenses currently in RE. i believe the statute is 1 license per 3000 residents and RE has 11000 people. i think the owner of the RE diner, which has a liquor license although i have no idea why, was offered approx. 500k for it but wouldn't sell. but i wouldn't swear to it in court. it's a shame because no one goes to the RE diner to drink, and i don't know why someone would go there to eat either, and the town could use another decent restaurant or pub that serves alcohol.

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                                                                                                          ELA RE: dock Oct 30, 2013 11:26 AM

                                                                                                          So between Dinallo's and the RE Diner, that's two. What happened to the one from Feather's, or are they still open?

                                                                                                          Is there a third one now?

                                                                                                          Thanks.

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                                                                                                            fourunder RE: ELA Oct 30, 2013 05:04 PM

                                                                                                            I just passed Dinallo's, and they had their usual full parking lot.

                                                                                                            I believe Feather's still operates and if not mistaken, there's a place called Beemer's below/behind the old Chinese Restaurant...maybe it's a Middle Eastern place now.. That makes 4 consumption licenses, unless the Beemer's or Feather's license went to the Diner.

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                                                                                                              ELA RE: fourunder Oct 30, 2013 08:25 PM

                                                                                                              I believe the diner has had a license for quite some time. I am not sure however, but I think so. I knew there were at least 3 and I was thinking of Beemer's as well, so yes, that would be 4 (which is what I was thinking).

                                                                                                          2. re: dock
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                                                                                                            fourunder RE: dock Oct 30, 2013 05:10 PM

                                                                                                            There are no statutes for limiting the number of licenses in any municipality...other than in dry towns. Liquor licenses were granted to returning resident World War II Veterans as a thank you for their service. Over time, the number of licenses in each municipality died natural deaths and could not be renewed. This could have been for any number of reasons, not just due to taxes or bankruptcies....A natural death would be when the owner simply did not renew properly and it lapsed. That's why any license is usually very valuable. You have to purchase an existing one from someone who is willing to sell.

                                                                                                            New licenses are granted under two conditions by law. Whenever the population in a municipality increases by 10K, or if a hotel complex is built with a minimum 120 units, it automatically can receive a special license, but the latter is never transferable off the address at which it would be located.

                                                                                              2. re: fourunder
                                                                                                Monica RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 01:02 PM

                                                                                                haha, badly dressed to my eyes but I am sure a lot of people find those ties and suits very attractive.

                                                                                                I don't mind paying $$$ if the food was complex and prepared with care and labor. but I am talking about sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I don't even know why I ordered it come to think of it.

                                                                                    2. re: fourunder
                                                                                      Monica RE: fourunder Oct 29, 2013 09:33 AM

                                                                                      I totally agree with you on everything you said...which is exactly the reason why I don't really eat out in NJ. I go to Manhattan to dine.

                                                                                      1. re: Monica
                                                                                        jrvedivici RE: Monica Oct 29, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                                        Coming from Monmouth County myself, the allure of N. Jersey Dining just doesn't compare with the extra 10/15 mins it takes to go through the tunnel and be in Manhattan.

                                                                                        I personally really enjoy La Griglia in Kennilworth and that is about as far as I will go without just going into the City.

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                                                                                      foodyum RE: Monica Oct 30, 2013 02:50 AM

                                                                                      My choices for inventive and nice ambiance near-ish to Tenafly is grange in Westwood or freelance in piermont. Dimora has well prepared, high quality old school Italian. Seafood gourmet in maywood has super fresh fish prepared with little preparation and not a place you would find in the city (in a good way).
                                                                                      And really, who cares about the cars when picking a restaurant.

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                                                                                      ELA RE: fourunder Oct 30, 2013 08:47 AM

                                                                                      I'll agree with that -- many so-so, average at best, red sauce kind of Italian places in North Jersey. As I said, my favorites for the more "fine dining" so to speak are Lu Nello (which is certainly fine dining), Savini (also fine dining, but not as much so), and La Vera Cucina (which is in Suffern, just over the Mahwah/Bergen County border, and is also fine dining but not as much so).

                                                                                      I also like Di Palma Brothers (North Bergen), Baci (Westwood), and Granita Grille (Westwood), and E&V (Paterson).

                                                                                      There's a few good threads here on Italian restaurants in Northern NJ as well and some good recommendations there.

                                                                                2. re: Monica
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                                                                                  ELA RE: Monica Oct 27, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                                                  I think Grissini is all show and no go...and I certainly do not think it is reflective of "upscale" dining in North Jersey. If that place was the best North Jersey had to offer, then I'd probably be leaving North Jersey whenever I wanted to go out for good food.

                                                                                3. sixelagogo RE: scarlet knight Oct 26, 2013 01:32 PM

                                                                                  I think that while North Jersey does have a number of very decent, casual, and family run joints (think: greek village, mekong grill, amici's), what it lacks are solid upscale restaurants worthy of their pricetags. I've not been, but i'd be interested to hear what you all think of the new saddle river inn and Local in Ramsey.

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                                                                                    ELA RE: sixelagogo Oct 27, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                    I think there is solid upscale, worthy of their pricetags kind of places in North Jersey. Not "everyone" in North Jersey feels the "must go to NYC" to fill their wants. That's just my opinion, and the opinion of many people I know -- and at least the places I mentioned that I like...Cafe Panache (Ramsey), St. Eve (Ho-Ho-Kus), Savini (Allendale), Varka (Ramsey), Chakra (Paramus), Chef's Table (Franklin Lakes), Cafe Matisse (Rutherford), Lu Nello (Cedar Grove), Rebecca's (Edgewater), Capital Grille (Paramus), and several more.

                                                                                    Sure, a few of those might not be considered "fine dining" per se -- Rebecca's for example -- but we are not talking about a pub grub place here either. I happen to like the environment there, and have been there in "casual" neat type dress, and more "dressed up" so to speak.

                                                                                    I think the Saddle River Inn and Local will also certainly fit into that category.

                                                                                    1. re: ELA
                                                                                      Monica RE: ELA Oct 28, 2013 10:45 AM

                                                                                      High end restaurants in NJ are kind of comical. I often see tons of brand new ultra luxury cars parked outside of these restaurants. Grissini is a joke...I first thought it was a high end car dealer. Do they give free car wash to people who own nice cars because all the cars that parked there are sparkling new and shiny and a lot of the diners there seem to be out of Sopranos tv show.

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                                                                                        ELA RE: Monica Oct 28, 2013 12:13 PM

                                                                                        That is very accurate for Grissini. I agree. As I said, I think it is all show (if you like that kind of show) and no go; although I wasn't referring to the cars.

                                                                                        To generalize that all high-end restaurants in NJ or even Northern NJ for that matter, are like that is completely inaccurate. High-end places can be expensive, and those types of patrons can certainly drive nice cars. Your point?

                                                                                        To state that..."often see tons of brand new ultra luxury cars parked outside of these restaurants"...while that might be true, it has no correlation to the quality of the restaurant. Again, on Grissini, I agree -- lots of nice cars and IMO, not a good restaurant, and both having nothing to do with each other.

                                                                                        As far as your other comments, I won't comment.

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                                                                                        smilingal RE: ELA Nov 4, 2013 11:08 PM

                                                                                        Tried Savini after reading of it on this thread and really enjoyed it --- the food as well as the atmosphere and service.

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                                                                                          ELA RE: smilingal Nov 5, 2013 04:21 AM

                                                                                          Glad you enjoyed it.

                                                                                    2. njmarshall55 RE: scarlet knight Nov 5, 2013 05:11 PM

                                                                                      Any mention of Berta's Chateau?

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                                                                                        fourunder RE: njmarshall55 Nov 6, 2013 08:38 AM

                                                                                        http://www.northjersey.com/food_dinin...

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                                                                                          ELA RE: njmarshall55 Mar 27, 2014 08:42 AM

                                                                                          Heard a few good things about Berta's...any first-hand reports? Thanks in advance.

                                                                                          1. re: ELA
                                                                                            njmarshall55 RE: ELA Mar 27, 2014 09:05 AM

                                                                                            Been there a few times over the years. Decor hardly ever changes...neither does the help. Can't say anything about how food is recently, but I look forward to going back. Always had a pleasant experience there.

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                                                                                          bropaul RE: scarlet knight Mar 27, 2014 07:02 AM

                                                                                          I revived this thread because I am about to give up on Chowhound. There is so little about North/Central NJ that it's not worth the effort. I don't know where all the other foodies up North are posting and Yelp doesn't do it for me.

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                                                                                            RUK RE: bropaul Mar 27, 2014 07:11 AM

                                                                                            Cooking in our own kitchen? :-)

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                                                                                              scott10 RE: bropaul Mar 27, 2014 07:39 AM

                                                                                              Don't give up on Chowhound. There is no better forum for this information. In the past 24 hours, there have been at least 5 topics dealing with areas of New Jersey north of the Raritan River (the line of demarcation which I use to generally indicate "North Jersey"). Some days there is a flurry of North Jersey postings; other days there are none. For the past year or so there have been a larger amount of posts for the region south of the Raritan River. But don't let that discourage you. I'm certain that a lot more posts about North Jersey will be forthcoming in the coming months.

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                                                                                                bropaul RE: scott10 Mar 27, 2014 03:58 PM

                                                                                                I agree about there not being a better forum, which is why I am so discouraged. I'll hang in there.

                                                                                              2. re: bropaul
                                                                                                Monica RE: bropaul Mar 27, 2014 07:45 AM

                                                                                                try the Fink's bbq in Dumont. seriously good and seriously done right. One of very few(if any) restaurants in NJ that's actually better than any bbq joint in Manhattan...not that Manhattan is known for good bbq.

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                                                                                                  ELA RE: Monica Mar 27, 2014 08:42 AM

                                                                                                  Agreed...top notch BBQ/smoke place...what Fink and Bobby do they do exceptionally well...

                                                                                                2. re: bropaul
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                                                                                                  ELA RE: bropaul Mar 27, 2014 08:41 AM

                                                                                                  Being from North Jersey, like many, I tend to look for those threads. A lot, a little, etc., it's all relative. I post on another food BB as well, but here I don't think it goes more than a day or so without some thread pertaining to North Jersey.

                                                                                                  There's a lot of good restaurants mentioned here. I think a thread like this can be revived with visits, more comments, etc. -- so thanks.

                                                                                                  1. re: ELA
                                                                                                    Disneyfreak RE: ELA Mar 27, 2014 10:28 AM

                                                                                                    Where else do you post ELA? I am always looking for more food bb's to read.

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                                                                                                      ELA RE: Disneyfreak Mar 27, 2014 11:32 AM

                                                                                                      I post at Mouthfuls...not as much activity in the NJ room, but I do what I can, LOL. So do a few others.

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                                                                                                  joonjoon RE: scarlet knight Mar 27, 2014 05:40 PM

                                                                                                  I split a little bit of time between central and north Jersey... I personally post more about Monmouth county because the options here are so limited..a new Korean/Vietnamese/Chinese place opened up in NNJ or even in Edison/New Brunswick? Ho hum just another day. On the other hand anything not-Italian or hibachi/sushi opening up in Monmouth is like freaking Christmas!

                                                                                                  I'll be a good 'hound and start posting more on the NNJ joints I visit. :)

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                                                                                                    missybean RE: scarlet knight Mar 27, 2014 06:09 PM

                                                                                                    I really have no right to comment on this since I live in Monmouth county, but I do have a suggestion. Instead of adding new reviews to this conversion, you may get more responses if you start new discussions. I know I would not necessarily think to look in a discussion looking for North Jerseyans for info.

                                                                                                    It's been my experience that it takes a while for people to get in the habit of posting. Make sure you respond to posts even if it's to the thank the original poster. No one wants to post into the wind.

                                                                                                    Good Luck
                                                                                                    Missy

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