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Jan 22, 2014 10:33 AM

Morris Plains/Morristown/Parsippany NJ Area

Looking for some newer places to try. I come to the area several times a year and have been to a lot but wanted to see if there's anything I'm missing. Interested in moderate prices, not too expensive, good for groups and not too adventurous (sans sushi, indian or middle eastern). Usually we end up going to Grato/Tabor Tavern/Roots/Bensi. Thanks.

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  1. Il Villagio in the Powder Mill Plaza on Rt 10E (just up the hill west of Grato) is a long-standing but still very good NNJ red-sauce Italian spot (and BYO). Classics +.

    In Morristown, Tim Schaefer's (across from the Hyatt) is about to get a name change, but the players remain the same and I'm told it's still very good.

    In "downtown" Denville (take 53N off of Rt 10), you've got a bunch of options:

    -Hunan Taste has VERY GOOD Chinese food--interesting stuff for those who eat interesting Chinese, and typical American dishes for those who don't. Full bar, and large tables in private rooms if you've got 8-10 people. And you can't beat the decor--promise! Just don't let *that* turn you off, as I promise your colleagues will be talking about it!

    -There's a place called Thatcher McGhee's - Irish pub concept, but maybe someone else can speak to the menu. I've only been once to another location and it was fine--not as upscale as Tabor Road Tavern.

    -Denville Dairy. The (homemade) ice cream of my childhood is as good as ever, and it's esp fun in nicer weather (it's 11 here right now) b/c you can sit out front on the benches in small-town USA and eat your cone/cup. I'm particularly fond of the Raspberry Weave, preferably w/cookie crunch on top. The pumpkin is also wonderful, and lately they've been experimenting with flavors like saffron pistachio!

    I also like Cafe Metro in Denville, but it tends to swing HEALTHY--not sure if that would work for you.

    Another thought, but I haven't been in forever: The Rattlesnake Cantina, which is on Rt 53 at the base of Mt. Tabor (en route to Denville from Rt 10). Any other 'hounds been lately?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Curlz

      Curlz. Thanks for the quick reply and suggestions. I lived in the area a while back and definitely remember some of these..rattlesnake, Il Villagio & and Hunan Taste. Isn't Thatcher McGhee's in the old Fireside? I went there when it 1st opened. Definitely some good choices. Thnx

      1. re: drmurphy

        YW! My old (and sometimes still) stomping grounds. :-)
        Correct re: the Thatcher McGhee's location!

      2. re: Curlz

        Good recs, just a few more comments -

        Rattlesnake Cantina is under new management, which is good, because it was really going downhill. That said, I haven't been there since they changed. One of these days!

        I like Thatcher McGee's but I thought the food was only so-so. A better choice would be The Second Half on Main(if you're from Denville, this place used to be out on 53 towards the train station). Or The Heritage, which is more homey. They have a party room if it's a big group, but I'm not sure they can accomodate small groups too well.

        Forget about that comment below about the prices at Denville Dairy. It's ice cream - not gonna break the bank! Family owned for generations, this is the real heart of Denville.

        1. re: njkori

          It seems I am not the only one who feels that Denville Dairy prices are out of line...see this thread.

          $3.50 for a small, single dip ice cream cone? Seriously?

          1. re: PuniceaRana

            I'm not saying that it's not expensive for ice cream - but it's one ice cream cone. How much would you pay for a glass of wine or a beer? This has more value to me, because it's a neighborhood place, everything is made on site, and it's family owned. And the last time I went to one of those "make your own" yogurt places, it was more than $3.50. What's with that?

            1. re: njkori

              What s/he said! People are paying $5 for coffee drinks...and I'll add that the portions are out of control at Denville Dairy--a small cup is probably equal to 2 full scoops almost anywhere else. And it's GREAT ice cream (imo)!

              1. re: Curlz

                mmmmm. that caramelly-cashew... what's it called? broadway crunch?

      3. My favorite place to eat in the area is Collins...amazing steaks and burgers for the money.

          1. re: coldbeer

            I've heard that it's very good--just not sure about it being good for a group and/or if it's too $$$.

            1. re: coldbeer

              I had a very negative first impression of the place. I never usually comment after just one visit, but comments on some other sites are tending negative as well.

                1. re: Curlz

                  OK. This is what I wrote down after my visit back in November.

                  Ristorante Civile wants to be a fine dining restaurant. Well, IMHO they have a long way to go. Maybe I just ordered the wrong things, but I seem to have had a different experience than everyone else. Yes, I was well received at the door and taken care of. I was solo so I ate at the bar - such as it is in a BYO. I ordered the burrata, which I love, but it was served so cold that you could not taste the cheese. (By comparison, I just ate in another Italian restaurant where it was served at room temperature, as it should be.) I then ordered the shrimp over white bean ragu. I am a big fan of the Italian concept of "mare e monti", that is, combining seafood with land items such as the beans and mushrooms. I was extremely disappointed. The dish was clumsy with everything seemingly cooked together (and the beans not enough - I'm all for al dente, but not beans.) The tomato covered everything and masked the flavors of the other ingredients. What a pity. It could have been so good with a more deft hand. Dessert was an industrial gelato - Bindi. I may give it one more try, but for what they are charging, they need to get the little things right." Given the other reviews, I probably won't give it a second try.

                2. re: bropaul

                  I too got a bad first impression of RistoranteCivile. It seems to be trying to be very upscale, (similar to II Capriccio) but falls quite short, especially since the prices are on par with II Capriccio. When I stopped in for lunch, not too long after they opened, I found the "host/owner" annoying, as he seemed to hover around my table and want to enter into a personal conversation. Not what I wanted as I was there with a good friend and we wanted to catch up.

              1. Curlz and Joonjoon have given you a good starting point. I'd forget about Denville Dairy only because they have raised the prices so high as to be ridiculous. (most likely as a result of expenses related to cleaning up after the flood) I much prefer going to Cliffs in Ledgewood for my homemade ice cream desires - they have a better selection and down to earth prices.

                I do have a few places to add to the suggestion list:

                Alexis Dinner, on Rte 10 in Denville (not far from the Morris Plains boarder) a better than average diner, and good specials.

                Olive Lucy's Kitchen Table on Speedwell Ave in Morristown. Italian and Portuguese fare. Great home made pasta, and creative ravioli's. Don't miss the braised short ribs appetizer. We also enjoy the seafood.

                A new find for me is Blue Willow Cafe, located just a few mins south of Morristown in New Vernon. We stopped in for dinner on a Fri after getting a recommendation/glowing review from our neighbor. Friday nights they have a prime rib special and it's great! The dinner menu is good, the salads fresh, and the desserts are amazing. We have gone back for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed the sandwiches and burgers. Neighbors said the brunch was quite good, everything fresh and home made.

                If your looking for a good cup of coffee and a fresh doughnut definitely go to Beignets in downtown Denville. Doughnuts are made to order and are fantastic.

                Anthony & Sons in Denville is a great place for lunch, good italian deli located in the same bldg as the bread factory, so the smell of fresh bread is amazing!

                I also have several recommendation for mexican fare, but not sure if that is too adventurous for your liking.

                1. Nicole's 10 on Rt.10 W in Randolph flies under the radar a lot, but I think it's quite good.
                  If there are beer lovers in your group, the Morris Tap & Grill a little further along on Rt. 10 can be fun.
                  Both have full bar. Food is better at Nicole's.