Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
Tell them Johnny Meatballs sent ya!
Last week, I shared a poem about everything I love about The Garden State. This week, I’m going to share my favorite New Jersey (and a few New York) locations for where to get some of the best meals around. Please note: these are personal opinions and only reflect my direct experiences.
When I dine out, I look for family-operated, generation-to-generation establishments—these are the only types of eateries I visit—not chain joints. To not over-complicate things, and since these listings don’t have any particular order, they are categorized into two groups: “Main Course” (twenty different selections) and “Dessert” (ten selections). I’ve included the addresses and links to official websites. So ya wanna know some places where Johnny Meatballs goes for my favorite eats? Read on...
Hanky’s Hilltop Market & Pizzeria (435 East Brinkerhoff Ave, Palisades Park, NJ. http://hankyspizza.com/)
The old candy/grocery store that’s been operating out of the same location since 1931 (on the same block in the neighborhood where I grew up) has been converted into a beautiful pizzeria/deli and coffee shop. Old-school Italian-American—done right.
Donna’s Pizza Center (404 Broad Avenue, Palisades Park, NJ. http://donnaspizza.com/)
Another sentimental favorite from my hometown of Pal Park, but their pizza has always been some of the best around. In a town whose landscape has greatly changed, things are still done the same way since 1965.
Ah’Pizz (7 North Willow Street, Montclair, NJ. http://www.ahpizznj.com/)
The best pizza period—maybe even better than Naples. Why? How? They are masters at Authentic Pizza Napoletana. As featured on Alicia Vitarelli’s News 12 segment, “Best Kept Secrets of NJ.” Read my full CUGINE CORNER review here: http://www.i-italy.org/bloggers/14258/ahpizz-numero-uno
Campania Ristorante (17-15 Broadway, Fair Lawn, NJ. http://www.campaniarestaurant.com/)
A respect for the classic dishes of our nonnas, with updated twists and new favorites just like you’d find in The Old Country. The seasonally-changing menu only uses the freshest, local ingredients and highest quality imports.
Angelo’s (263 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst, NJ)
Around since the ‘50s, not much has changed. When you’re craving the “red sauce” fare, Angelo’s is the answer.
Fornelletto Cucina & Wine Bar (1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ. http://www.theborgata.com/Main.cfm?Category_1=4000&Category_2=4100&Category_3=4120)
Formerly, Ombra, one of A.C.’s best restaurants, the dining room is in a downstairs “wine cellar” at the Borgata.
New Park Tavern (250 Park Avenue, East Rutherford, NJ)
When you want a cold beer and a thin-crust bar pie, look no further. Inexpensive, yet superb food and a very relaxed, newly-renovated atmosphere for a Saturday evening.
Hiram’s Hot Dogs (1345 Palisade Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ)
Rivaling neighbors Hiram’s and Callahan’s for years battled for customers and bragging rights for best dog. Callahan’s is now a bank and Hiram’s stands alone.
Dickie Dee’s Hot Dogs & Pizza (380 Bloomfield Avenue, Newark NJ)
Deep-fried all-beef hot dogs with onions, peppers, and their signature potato wedges—all stuffed into a piece of fresh-baked Italian bread. I’m salivating just thinking about one.
White Manna Hamburgers (358 River Street, Hackensack, NJ. http://www.myspace.com/white_manna)
Squeeze in for the best mini burgers you will ever eat—with or without onions on a soft potato roll. A flavor explosion! Met Food Network’s Guy Fieri here on his “New Jersey Diners Tour.”
Corrado’s Family Affair (1578 Main Avenue, Clifton, NJ / 201 Berdan Avenue, Wayne, NJ. http://www.corradosmarket.com/)
This is not some Costco carbon copy mega mart—it’s a part of the neighborhood run by cugines. There’s the huge deli/“World of Cheese” (with hand-stretched mozzarella), a fish section, a meat department (steakhouse quality filet mignons, sausage, chicken, veal, lamb, etc.) Plus, a bakery, a new focaccia and gelato bar with ample tables to dine-in. As featured on Alicia Vitarelli’s News 12 segment, “Buck Wild” (which also featured yours truly).
Star Ravioli (2 Anderson Avenue, Moonachie, NJ. http://www.starravioli.com/)
Ok, you can’t eat here, but you can take home the best homemade ravioli anywhere, and boil them up for a quick but extremely satisfying meal. Over 60 years in business, they definitely know what they are doing. With countless varieties for every palate, plus manicotti, hand-rolled gnocchi, lots more.
Umberto’s Clam House (2356 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY. http://www.umbertosclamhousebronx.com/)
They have steaks, chops and pastas, but I go for the clams, calamari and other unbelievable seafood! Yes, there is Umberto’s on Mulberry Street, but if I’m going to cross the GWB, I am going to the Bronx.
Shrimp Box (75 Inlet Drive, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. http://www.theshrimpbox.com/)
A 50+ year old institution, enormous portions served inside or out on their patio bar. Not much better down the shore.
Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q (64-1-2 Chestnut Street, Montclair, NJ. http://ruthiesbbq.com/)
If you love pulled pork and other BBQ deliciousness like I do, you simply must go here. The smoky, juicy platters of meat are balanced out by their scrumptious sauces. They also have pizza, damn good too.
JD’S Steak Pit (124 Main Street, Fort Lee, NJ. http://www.jdsteakpit.com/)
There’s only one thing I ever ordered here: the fall-off-the-bone Canadian baby back ribs. Nowhere have I ever had better.
Crow’s Nest (309 Vincent Avenue, Hackensack, NJ. http://www.crowsnest.com/)
This is the perfect example of the anti-chain family dining restaurant, before there was a TGI Friday’s and Houlihan’s on every highway, Crow’s Nest was around as a local favorite. You can get burgers, chicken sandwiches and all that, but the tender filet mignon sandwich is a stand-out.
Nagoya (1007 MacArthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ. http://www.nagoyacuisine.com/)
I’m a sushi/sashimi lover, and Nagoya has every combination you can imagine. You have to try the Salmon Tempura Roll.
Havana’s Cuban Café (1040 River Road, Edgewater, NJ. http://www.havanascubancafe.com/)
Authentic Cuban fare that never disappoints. Go in for a Bistek Habanero, then head next door to Habana Cigars.
Mike’s Deli (2344 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY. http://www.arthuravenue.com/)
You can’t mention “The Real Little Italy” in the Bronx, without The Arthur Avenue Market and Mike’s Deli. Cured meats, cheeses, countless other hot and cold items and truly the best eggplant (they humbled Bobby Flay during an eggplant throwdown).
Rispoli’s Pastry Shop (824 Broad Avenue, Ridgefield, NJ)
To me, the best cannolis in New Jersey.
Lyndhurst Pastry Shop (256 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst, NJ. http://www.lyndhurstpastryshop.com/)
Besides Rispoli’s, no other Italian bakery in my opinion can compare. The pignoli cookies are absolutely exceptional, as are the cannolis.
Palisades Park Bakery (325 Broad Avenue, Palisades Park, NJ)
You can’t go wrong with anything you get, but their cream and jelly donuts and cupcakes are especially awesome.
Artuso Pastry (670 East 187th Street, Bronx, NY. http://www.artusopastry.com/)
The biscotti are to die for, as are all their holiday specialties like struffoli, St. Joseph’s zeppole and all the other traditional delicacies.
Ferrara’s Bakery (195 Grand Street, New York, NY. http://www.ferraracafe.com/home.php)
Look, if there is one place left in the commercialized Little Italy of Mulberry Street, it’s Ferrara’s. Get a sfogliatelle, it is worth the trip.
B & W Bakery (614 Main Street, Hackensack, NJ)
Their famous crumb cake is to die for. Simply Heaven.
Patisserie St. Michel (1389 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, NJ)
If you never had a true French pastry, this is a must-visit. Italian pastries were all I ever knew, but once you try one of these creations, you will be sold.
Sotto Zero Gelateria (89 Ridge Road, North Arlington, NJ. http://www.sottozerousa.com/)
The freshest, most delicious gelato, ice cream, cakes, and other decadent delights. As featured on Alicia Vitarelli’s News 12 segment, “Best Kept Secrets of NJ.” Read my full CUGINE CORNER review here: http://www.i-italy.org/bloggers/14538/sotto-zero-gelateria-best-gelato-side-italy
Bischoff’s Ice Cream Parlor (468 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ)
They have been there since 1934, featuring 40 flavors of ice cream. The place is like something out of “Back to the Future,” but they aren’t just about nostalgia alone—trust me.
Ice Cream Charlie’s (200 Park Avenue, Rutherford, NJ)
Creamiest ice cream you could ask for, with tons of flavors and toppings, puts their next door neighbor, Dairy Queen to shame.