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Looking for good Italian in Cranford area

Ristorante da Benito. Union, 5 points intersection. A hop, skip and a jump from Cranford.


Jul 25, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

New to area - open to recommendations

Found myself in the Bridgewater area tonight and figured I'd try something new for me. Had a hankering for Thai, so I went to Thai Kitchen, as recommended above. Really enjoyed it; fresh vegetables in the summer roll and deep flavors across the entrees: pad kee mao (with vegetables and tofu) and special fish cooked in banana leaves. The place was packed on a random Tuesday evening at 7 pm, with folks waiting for tables.

Jul 21, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

New to area - open to recommendations

Da Filippos in Somerville for Italian. Small. BYOB.
Shumi in Somerville for Japanese, sushi. BYOB.



Jul 18, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Sunday lunch for large family group near Liberty Science Center (Jersey City)

I would head over to the Ironbound section of Newark, and there I prefer Seabra's Marisqueira. I've done that after an LSC visit with a family group myself. There are other options in the same area along Ferry Street that could also handle a group of your size.

An alternative that might not be top of mind for many, but is "just around the corner" so to speak from LSC is Zeppelin Hall in Jersey City. It has limited non-meat options from what I recall, but again, could handle your group fairly well. It's been a while since I've been there so it might be good to find some recent reviews.

Jul 11, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Sunday dinner between Newark and Edison

Spirito's in Elizabeth

Jul 11, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Natirar / Ninety Acres

For that group size, you may want to contact them directly to make arrangements and discuss menu. I've eaten there several times and roundly enjoyed everything: food, service, and ambiance.

Also, I hosted my birthday dinner there last summer for 12 of us, but reserved/used the cooking school kitchen for a private class group event. I consulted with the chef on the menu and ingredients, and we all took part in the preparation and cooking of the dinner. Now you may not want to work (or have others work) during your dinner party, but we all had a great time, and it allowed us all to interact constantly during the time, learn a little, and have a lot of fun without worrying how loud we were and possibly disturbing other patrons.

We started with cocktails and appetizers on the patio, then moved into the kitchen to prep and cook dinner, rotating through a couple of different stations. At the end, we all gathered around a big table in the kitchen/classroom to eat.

For a 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm event on a Sunday night, the cost was $130 per person. I brought my own case of wine, so there was a $35 per bottle corkage fee. I also asked to extend the start and end times, which added an extra $15 per person per 30 minutes. Add 20% gratuity and 7% tax.

Contact: Ellen Taylor - Cooking School Director, Ninety Acres Culinary Center at Natirar. +1 908 901 4714 or ETaylor@natirar.com

May 10, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Good restaurants near Newark Airport (NJ)

Manolo's is great. Consider also Spirito's in Elizabeth.

Apr 18, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

Well, it is Newark and we do have our standards you know. No painted faces at the bar. You might scare the women-folk.

Feb 20, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Catch Red Bank Chowdown


My work schedule changed and I'm now not be able to make it. Have a chowdowning good time without me!

Feb 20, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

The Monk Room had their 1 year anniversary last month, and appear to have settled in reasonably well. It's great to have them in the neighborhood.

I stopped in last week after a few months since my last visit. Still a great place with great food, but a couple of changes to the menu that I didn't like so much: the octopus salad is now gone and the pasta comes only in one size - and it's a main course portion. The octopus is dearly missed and the smaller pasta portion meant I used to be able to eat one of those plus a salad for dinner.

Closing time is a little earlier (now 8 pm) on non-event weeknights than it used to be, which makes it a squeeze for me after work sometimes, but likely reflects the reality of lighter patron traffic on those nights.

Feb 15, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Catch Red Bank Chowdown

I think I can make this, and looking forward to it. I remember meeting up with a similar crowd of Chowhounds at the Park East in Hazlet a few years ago...

Feb 08, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

oyster deals north jersey?

Legal Sea Foods at the Short Hills Mall: half-off raw bar items, Monday through Thursdays, 3-6 PM

Feb 08, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Need really delicious Italian Restaurant Essex, Morris, Bergan, Union County or that vicinity

Osteria Giotto. Montclair. BYOB.


I've only been twice, and both times within the last 2-3 months or so. This is a great place.

Jan 17, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Need really delicious Italian Restaurant Essex, Morris, Bergan, Union County or that vicinity

+1 for da Benito

Jan 17, 2015
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Best Restaurants near NJPAC in Newark, NJ?

There's a new place that just opened up last month: Duke's Southern Table. Featuring "southern fare" with live jazz on many nights.

I've only been there once so far, so I'll hold my review until I have some additional data points. I think it's worth a try though, and just a few short blocks' walk to/from NJPAC.


Nov 15, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Spirito's -- Elizabeth

I realize this is an old thread, but I just saw some comments on Yelp that mentioned that the way they make their ravioli had changed about a year ago...

It's probably been about 2 years since I've been to Spirito's. Has anyone visited in the last year or so? If I go back in a couple of weeks, will the ravioli be as wonderful as they'd always been in the past?

Nov 02, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Steel Magnolias - Valdosta GA

I've been here twice in the last two months, both times on a Saturday night. Great food, nice service, all around enjoyable meals that exceeded my expectations.

Nice list of specialty cocktails and an eclectic wine list. In both cases, I think something for everyone to like. I enjoyed the Silver Spur (Tanqueray Gin, Sparkling Rose, cardamom syrup, fresh mint) and the Porch Swing (house infused watermelon vodka, lemonade, champagne splash, fresh mint) on my two visits. Cocktails are $8 each and come in a mason jar.

Everyone enjoyed the shared starters, each with nicely distinct rich flavors and a feeling of indulgence: fried green tomatoes, feta cheese, peach chutney aioli ($8), grilled daily flatbread which came with pork belly the time we had it ($8), and the ahi tuna tar-tar with cucumber, tomato, corn & feta with cilantro aioli & balsamic ($11).

The main courses were all hits too:

Wicked good seafood stew (mussels, clams, fish, shrimp, and scallop with sausage and potato in a lobster saffron broth with pesto and grilled crostini) ($27)

Whole bronzino creamy grits, arugula, olive-caper gremolata, grilled lemon ($27)

Steel Magnolias shrimp & grits, andouille sausage, roasted red pepper gravy ($17)

Sea scallops & pork belly, smoked gouda grits, sage brown sugar glaze ($28)

The place fills up quickly with a mix of ages and styles, and has a good vibe. The main dining room on the ground floor can get a little noisy, but you can always escape to the roof top where there's live music on select nights.

Frankly, I'm surprised not to see the restaurant already on Chowhound. As far as I've been able to tell (during my recent limited visits to Valdosta the last several months), this may be the best restaurant in town. (Oops, or maybe I'm letting the secret out!)


132 North Patterson Street
Valdosta, GA 31601
(229) 259-0010

For those coming from out of town, it's an easy 3 miles and a straight run off of I-75.


May 26, 2014
njfreqflyer in Southeast

12 Islands Taverna - Millburn

Stopped by for dinner on Saturday night, and really enjoyed the food.

We stuck with a mix of cold and hot starters and a salad. The portions are sizable. The "Pikilia tis Pareas" is an assortment of 5 mezedes -- the melitzanosalata (eggplant), tzatziki (cucumber & yogurt), hummus, fava bean spread, and skordalia (mashed potato) -- with pita, and can easily feed 3 people. The hummus this night featured chick peas and black eyed peas, which gave it a non-traditional color. All were really good and had great texture. All had healthy amounts of garlic.

The oktapodi (cold octopus salad) was more pickled and vinegary than I've had anywhere else (think giardiniera), and it really grew on me as I kept going back to it throughout the meal.

The Ellinikia salata (greek salad) was also large, and well-balanced; tasted very fresh. Big chunks of feta too.

The Gigantes beans in tomato sauce were ok, and were probably the weakest dish of the evening. Usually a favorite of mine, the tomato sauce seemed a little BBQ saucy here.

Finally the oktapodi sta karvouna (grilled octopus) -- yes we had octopus two ways in one meal! -- was simple, charred, and satisfying.

All in, I think the tab was about $70 (not including the wine) for the two of us, and included several unfinished items to take home.

Service by the FOH and the wait-staff was very pleasant and eager to please. I'll be back to try some of their main courses, which include traditional greek dishes (and a vegetarian variety of moussaka in addition to the one with ground beef), grilled meats, and seafood including a whole fish of the day.

The place was packed by 7:30 PM, but tables turned-over at a pretty good pace. With the warmer weather, there's a couple of tables out front on Main St, and several more in the courtyard in the back.

It's BYOB, and they have a nice little arrangement with UnWined Boutique, next door. The restaurant has a brief list of bottles and prices, you can make a quick call and there's free delivery, or you can run out the back door, visit the shop and pick something out yourself. Restaurant patrons get a 10% discount.

Open for lunch (Monday - Friday) and dinner (7 days).

Take care: as of this date, the Millburn location is not accepting reservations. And the listing on OpenTable which is clearly labeled "12 Islands of Stirling" is for the Stirling location only.



Ref: bropaul's recent review of the Stirling location here:

May 11, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Keiji salmon

It is indeed the.best.salmon.ever.

I've had it from Yama-san many times over the years at the Hump and subsequently at Yamakase. I do believe that it's seasonal, however, so may not be available for special order at any time, even by Yama-san. I'm thinking it's an October - November kind of a thing.

May 09, 2014
njfreqflyer in Los Angeles Area

The Monk Room, Newark

Well on a mid-week (and non event) night, I parked curb-side on the street pretty much right in front of the restaurant for free. Plenty of pay-lots within a block or so given its closeness to the Prudential Center.

Jan 25, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Any geoduck in Central/Coastal NJ.

Also known / labelled as "mirugai"

Jan 19, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

I stopped in for a quick dinner last week. Super staff, nice looking room, plenty of exposed brick, great food. I had a "Caprazy" ($8) starter of fresh mozzarella and fire roasted tomatoes, and a "14 1/2" pizza ($16) with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and homemade ricotta. Both were very good.

No octopus on the menu yet, but according to a post by tommy:eats, The Monk Room has tweeted that it may be coming soon:



Great addition to the area. They're open for lunch and dinner now, and considering brunch.

Jan 18, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

Now open. From the folks who run Porta in Asbury Park. The Newark venue is around the corner from the Prudential Center and across the street from Newark City Hall.


20 Green St
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 368 2771

Jan 18, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Were should we go!

Since you didn't limit your query to "where should we eat?" I suggest you also make a visit to Sickles Market in Little Silver and the H-Mart in Edison.


Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Were should we go!

Bringing my nieces and nephew to Spirito's tonight for their first visit and those wonderful ravioli.

Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Asian/latin/Speciality Markets near Lakewood

Unless things have changed since I left the Toms River area about a year ago, there's a small Asian (Filipino) market called "Little Divisoria" in the Pleasant Plains section right on Rt 9 / Lakewood Ave on the stretch south of Rt 70 and north of the GSP. It's in the strip mall behind Aamantran, an Indian restaurant.

If you expand the scope of Asia a little... there's also a great little Turkish market called "Yener" (actually the sign says "European Food Market") another couple of miles south on the other side of the GSP overpass (in the same strip mall as El Familiar & Il Giardinello restaurants). Best pita around - brought in fresh once a week.

Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Fine dining in Newark

How about Nico Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC? That might be as nice a "room" as there is in the immediate area.


Sep 29, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Mulligans Toms River Closed..

No, that's been a Boston Pizza for a few years.

Mulligans is up a little farther north on the southbound side of Hooper near the Brick line. Between Church/Kettle Creek Rd and Silver Bay Rd.

Was a good place for a drink and some live music.

Sep 28, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

After NJPAC concert dining options?

+1 for Seabra's. It's the real deal. Sit at the counter (bar) if you can.

It looks like you're visiting from the Boston area. Nico's is good, but not special. Seabra's is worth the visit. I assume you're staying in either the Hilton or the Marriott Courtyard. It will be less than a 5 minute taxi ride to get back there, and taxis should be available at the corner near Seabra's even at the late hour (or easily summoned by phone).

Sep 07, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Mitsuwa -- what should I pick up

Yuzu. (citrus)
Shochu. (barley alcohol)
Asahi kuronama. (black beer)
Nori. (seawood strips)
Takoyaki. (octopus fritters)
Shiso. (leaf)
Uni. (sea urchin)
Hotate. (scallop sashimi)
Fresh wasabi. ($$$$)

May 24, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey