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August   6

Towns Where You Won't Go Hungry

Cover_2 New Jersey Monthly is naming names, listing the Garden State's culinary capitals, "food towns" that warrant a special visit. Montclair shares honors with towns like Red Bank and New Brunswick, and a lot of the usual suspects garner specific mention (Raymond's, Fascino, Richie Cecere's), however, we were pleased to see that some less heralded eateries (Stockpot, Soda Pop Shop) got props, although they missed more than a few of our faves.

There's also a list of the best restaurants in NJ by category. Peruse the list and see how many you disagree with (Mexican comes to mind...)

August 6, 2005 in Food and Drink | Permalink


Look back at NJ Monthly's "Best" lists from the past 10-15 years and you'll see the same names over and over again. Their lists are more of a popularity contest than a foodie discovery roadmap. :(

Posted by: Jim | Aug 6, 2005 11:16:19 AM

I agree Jim, they shill for the advertisers.

Posted by: Johnny Drama | Aug 6, 2005 11:29:07 AM

A reader’s poll is only as good as the people who respond. In the NJM poll all restaurants that assist in the submission of poll ballots or in distributing ballots or magazines containing them are disqualified. New Jersey Monthly also reserves the right to reject ballots that appear to have been submitted improperly. Advertisers do win some awards, and many non-advertisers win as well. NJM uses an outside auditing firm to ensure that all votes are counted and treated fairly. The auditing team also inspects the ballots for signs of ballot stuffing and other fraud.

Rosie Saferstein
Table Hopping With Rosie
New Jersey Monthly
E-Mail: [email protected]
Member of IACP, NYACP and The James Beard Foundation

Posted by: Rosie Saferstein | Aug 6, 2005 11:40:22 AM

Tell 'em, Rosie! It's easy to get cynical about the media, so it's nice to see some integrity!

Posted by: Hungry | Aug 6, 2005 12:02:19 PM

I too have been somewhat suspicious of this list due to the inclusion of a certain "Mexican" restaurant, however, I have eaten at many of the other restaurants on this list and can vouch that they truly are some of the best in the state.


Posted by: Denise O'Shea | Aug 6, 2005 1:12:02 PM

NJM may have missed a few of our better restuarants, but they sure did spread the love by noting 19 Montclair eateries. In addition to the restaurants mentioned above, NJM also included the following establishments...

Church Street Café
Café Eclectic
Crocket’s Fish Fry
Amazon Cafe
Indigo Smoke
Osteria Giotto
Déjà Vu
Tuptim Thai Cuisine

... not bad for our little burg.

Posted by: Greg Spinelli | Aug 6, 2005 1:44:31 PM

...by noting 19...

Actually 20.

Posted by: Greg Spinelli | Aug 6, 2005 2:01:41 PM

Yay Rosie! It is so easy to be cynical. I don't agree with 75% of the choices cited, but if ya don't vote, ya have no right to criticize or complain.

Posted by: rhubarbd | Aug 6, 2005 2:11:34 PM

Burgers. I love them. Some comments:

The loss of The Anthony Wayne (Wayne) has saddened me greatly. I first ate there in the 1955 and was a regular to the day it closed. The finest small burger ever. (The Hearth, in Clifton, provides some small consolation.)

The much maligned Pal's Cabin (West Orange) may have the finest large burger anywhere. One with some mushroom soup is, to me, a great meal.

Tierney's makes a good, reliable burger. If they'd just get their rolls from Nicolo's...

Main Street USA does make a great burger - but only if cooked at the bar and by someone who really knows what they're doing.

But no one seems to make great fries any more. Eagan's is close (too small) and there is The River Palm Terrace, but that's a different ball park.

Posted by: Wayne | Aug 6, 2005 2:30:43 PM

Actually, they mention 19 places in the article and 18 in the accompanying "Neighborhood Guide" (they dropped Amazon Cafe), while there are 20 dots on the near-useless accompanying map.

You do the math.

Posted by: curmudgeon | Aug 6, 2005 3:07:24 PM

I'm new to town and have been eating my way into a state of familiarity...

MEXICALI ROSE was some of the worst food I've ever eaten. Stale chips, cold bland entrees,...and don't you dare even turn your eye toward that kitchen door. HOLY [email protected]! They need to call in the toxic avengers in the yellow rubber suits to clean that place up.

I have faith I'll find a better mexican fix elsewhere in Essex.

Posted by: SadieLady | Aug 6, 2005 6:53:02 PM

Hasn't Harold's Deli on Rt. 46 been closed for a while now?

Posted by: late | Aug 6, 2005 7:31:34 PM

Doesn't it seem strange that NJM spent and awful lot of time in Cape May? Was Valerie on vacation? Who paid for Valerie's vacation, Jon C.? Not one Restaurant was mentioned from either Cumberland, Salem or Atlantic (City?) Counties. These three Counties have some fine eateries. Why where they avoided? As an example: Millville has some great restaurants, and a Irish Pub - former casino chefs opening many of them there and in Bridgeton. Bridgeton has the "101" and the ToadFish. Vineland has some great Italian food all over town. Bridgeton has Mexican Restaurants. Salem Has the Centerton Inn and the famous Riverside. Millville has the best crab/seafood place out on Route 45 for more than 75 miles around. (Valerie probably wouldn't be able to find it, since she used the GSP to exit the area.) That's why we don't read the NJM down here in South Jersey.......

Posted by: Empty Tummy | Aug 7, 2005 9:05:12 AM

Empty Tummy: this is exactly the point of my criticism of this issue. If only we could read and learn about new restaurants, whether they are truly new or just newly discovered. I think the magazine has a responsibility to its readers first and its friends second: stop telling us how great Highlawn Pavilion, Frog & the Peach, and Ryland Inn are (we know!) and tell us something we don't know!

Posted by: Jim | Aug 7, 2005 9:15:35 AM

I totally agree with the above statements... I subscribe to NJ Monthly, and its the same thing everytime.... I know Montclair has great places, same with Hoboken, etc. etc... But I never hear about great places like Greenhouse Cafe in Wayne, or Chengdu 46 in Clifton... whatever, just please mention some different places.

Posted by: Jon | Aug 7, 2005 8:40:05 PM

I will supply you with the location of that simply great "Crab Shack" on Route 49 (sorry about the Rt.45 Designation.) If your coming from North Jersey via the GSP get off at the Ocean City exit #25 and go west on Roosevelt Blvd to Tuckahoe Road (Tuckahoe Inn, nearby) to Route 50 north to a left turn onto Route 49 west to "Ikes Crab Shack" located on the northside of Rt.49 at Panther Road (Millville.) The ToadFish is located east of Bridgeton near the Cohansey Golf Club. Take Rt.49 west to C.Rt.553 (traffic light) hang a left follow to its intersection with South Ave (c.rt. 609) make a right, The ToadFish is on the left after Cohansey Golf Club. Downtown Bridgeton has several fine fine restaurants and so does Millville; plus Millville has a very well developed "Art District" downtown. Millville boasts an Irish Pub, called "The Olde Oar House" try that one three times quickly!!! Vineland has four well equipted motels, Ramada, Wingate, Days Inn and Comfort Inn - all near Rt.55 (South Jersey's famous road to nowhere) and Landis Ave., Rt. 56 interchange. I'll post more next time eating something is mention.

Posted by: Empty Tummy | Aug 7, 2005 9:46:01 PM

Vastly underrated and possibly unknown is where my man Massimo makes bread Il Forno Restaurant. He opened a place on S. Fullerton, across from Palazzo. Not only are his artisan breads ridiculous, but what he's serving for dinner is outstanding. He made this Asiago Cheese/Porchini Mushroom stuffed Pork Chop with a brown wine sauce that was one of the best meals I have had in the 'Clair. Check it out!

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Aug 8, 2005 1:10:45 PM

NJM (and I speak from some real experience, albeit not in the last 10+ years) walks a fine line in all its restaurant coverage. Once, it included as one of its readers' poll winners, in the category "where chefs go to eat themselves on their day off" or someting like that, an establishment in, I believe, Riverdale. But, because said place was not an advertiser, NJM never subsequently included this "winner" in its actual listings. This is the sort of sin of omission the magazine pulls from time to time, and its likely defense is that, with limited space, it really should concentrate on its advertisers which also happen to be notheworthy restuarants.

One could also question some of NJM's reviewing policies in general, of course. Does anyone, for example, genuinely believe that its reviewers have any more educated palates than most other folk? (The howlers come especially often and baldly when the reviewers strive to convey atmosphere.) I recall an instance a long time ago when someone wrote in anonymously to note that one of NJM's reviewers was always praising the mushrooms in restaurants that he had in fact supplied said mushrooms to in the first place. The accusation turned out to be true and he was dumped apace. But by then he'd had well over two years in which to purvey his fungi.

In general, it's a good idea to take NJM's restaurant coverage with several grains of salt - the reviews and competitions are useful, but hardly Holy Writ, Rosie Saferstein's spirited defense above notwithstanding. There's also at least as much occasional whoring after restaurant ads in newspapers as there is in the one statewide magazine, don't doubt that for one minute.

Posted by: cathar | Aug 8, 2005 3:59:42 PM

All I know is, if Mexicali Rose is on this list of "Best Mex", then it's a fixed list. No way is that food of excellent or even good quality. Someone should look into that.

Posted by: S | Aug 8, 2005 7:45:04 PM

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