f

ftrain's Profile

Title Last Reply

Best Pizza in N.J.

I'm going to have to try Star Tavern again sometime. Two years ago we took friends visiting from LA and it was SO BAD, I seriously questioned if we were in the right place. We had never been before, but had read so many great things about it that we felt like it would be a fun place to take the out-of-towners. Let me be clear, this wasn't "I'm being a pizza snob" bad--I'm really not one (I will not wait in hour-long lines for slices of pizza). It just wasn't good. It was so starkly unimpressive that it has actually become a running joke with those friends. The sauce was tasty, but the crust was literally floppy mush--you couldn't pick up the slices. It was just bizarre. No idea if we just got a bad pie, or if they had put too much sauce on it, or what happened. Maybe we'll need to give it another shot and see if we have a better experience. We live in Morris County and there is hardly any good pizza here--we would LOVE to find a place that lived up to the hype Star Tavern gets.

-----
Star Tavern & Pizzeria
400 High St, Orange, NJ

May 23, 2010
ftrain in New Jersey

Verjus in Maplewood, NJ

We had a delicious meal last night at Verjus in Maplewood. It's on the NJ Monthly top 25 list again this year, and while I can't claim to have eaten at all the contenders for that list, it was one of the better meals we've had in NJ. Two things stood out to us--service and simplicity. The service is very professional, pleasant, courteous. You can tell the moment you arrive that they really care that you have a great experience. It's refreshing. And the simplicity of the decor, the mood of the room, the menu and the dishes is just as refreshing. It's just delicious cooking without pretension.

We were celebrating our wedding anniversary last night, and didn't regret choosing Verjus as the site for the occasion. Lovely experience, and for what we thought was a surprisingly reasonable price.

Aug 09, 2009
ftrain in General Tristate Archive

Ignazio's Pizza

Tay, I saw Stuart's post and intend to give that Patsy's location a shot. Glad to see I'm not alone in finding these prices for pizza absurd.

Jul 27, 2009
ftrain in Outer Boroughs

DiFara Price Hike

Or course there is. Dom's been making pizza for eons but as recently as 10 years ago his place wasn't the phenomenon it is today. It was an excellent pizza place that still charged reasonable prices, and where you could get your food without literally feeling yourself age during the time it took.

Great pizza is still, ultimately, pizza, and I value both my time and money WAY too much to invest either in DiFara.

With that said, good for him for cashing in. If people are willing to pay, why not.

Jul 26, 2009
ftrain in Outer Boroughs

Ignazio's Pizza

Sorry, but as tasty as it is, I will continue to refuse to find $20 for a plain cheese pizza and $10 for a small and completely ordinary romaine salad acceptable. $70 for two pizzas, a salad and a couple of lemonades? $70? And delivered with what is all-too-commonplace mediocre NYC service? It pisses me off that we've collectively come to accept that as tolerable.

Jul 26, 2009
ftrain in Outer Boroughs

Best Pizza in Central Jersey?

We just tried Casa Bianca this weekend. It's great pizza, but not sure it's the best in NJ. I still think Brooklyn Brick Oven in Hackensack is the best I've had. I also was less than enamored of the overall experience. Our server was very courteous, and we could tell that many of the people in the restaurant were regulars, which is a good sign for any restaurant--they must do something right. But it took FOREVER for our food to come. I asked the hostess what was going on and she replied "It's Saturday night and we only have one chef." I'm not sure if that meant they were operating short-handed last night, or if she was just being matter-of-fact that they only have one chef so we can't expect fast service on a Saturday night. Regardless, it took nearly 45 minutes for our pizzas to come out, which was just crazy. This is not Chicago-style deep dish.

We'll give it another try sometime if we're in that area again. It really was delicious. But I would be curious from others if our experience was typical.

Jul 19, 2009
ftrain in New Jersey

Birthday Party in Northern NJ--HELP!

Wow, thank you for the tip on Montclair. Well, then cross Montclair off the list of potential towns. And I want to make one other modification to my original post--while I guess I have imagined something with family style portions to make it easier to serve everyone, that is not a requirement by any means. Just one thought.

Anyway, thanks again for any suggestions anyone might have.

Dec 10, 2007
ftrain in General Tristate Archive

Birthday Party in Northern NJ--HELP!

Myt wife's 30th birthday is coming up end of January and I'm trying to find a place in Northern NJ for a party for her. We haven't lived here long, and I also have never planned a party this big and don't have an unlimited budget, so I need some suggestions. BADLY need suggestions.

Here is what I know I'm looking for:
- Very good to great food
- Space for 20-25 people
- We live in Madison and would like to do it near us--towns we're thinking of would include Madison, Chatham, Morristown, Bernardsville, Summit, Montclair, Millburn. I'm open to other suggestions. The challenge is that I just don't know many good restaurants around here yet.
- Should be easy walking distance to a train for easy access for friends coming from NYC who won't have cars.

Here's what is flexible:
- Budget: I haven't decided if this will be a big sit-down dinner in the main dining room of a restaurant where everyone contributes to the final bill, or if it will be a private party in a reserved room where everyone mingles and I just get the check at the end. I feel like in the latter option, I'm almost obligated to get the check, whereas in the former scenario it's easier to get everyone to contribute. The reason I lean toward the former is that, simply put, I really can't afford to pay for dinner for 20-25 people at a great restaurant. So, this is the biggest sticking point. I would rather go to a great place that everyone could afford to go to if they all contributed and where we would have a meal to remember, than to go to a mediocre restaurant where at least I knew I could afford the bill. Are there nice restaurants where I could reserve a table for 25 and get a separate room and still have a sit-down dinner? If everyone contributes, I want to keep it to $40-$50 a head (including alcohol if it's not BYOB). If I have to pay for the whole thing, I've got to get cheaper than that. I can't afford to spend a couple thousand dollars on the party, as much as I would love to.
- cuisine: I'm open to a lot of different kinds of food. My wife is a little picky, but we can always work around that. I guess I'm imagining something with family style platters
- BYOB: In many ways I'd almost love a place that is BYO so that I could just bring a couple cases of wine and everyone could drink to their hearts content without worrying about a staggering liquor tab, but I'm open to suggestions.

Can anyone help? I thank you in advance for your guidance.

Dec 09, 2007
ftrain in General Tristate Archive

A "special" NYC meal for $60 a head?

I'm trying to plan my wife's 30th birthday in the city, but have to observe SOME semblance of a budget, and want to be respectful of the budgets of the various friends and relatives who will likely be attending. I want a fantastic meal, but I can't afford to pay for everyone, and also know some of those who will be coming can't necessarily afford $100 tasting menus and the a la carte prices of the higher-end "event" restaurants--i.e., Bouley, Nobu, Cafe Des Artistes, Jean Georges, etc.

I'm also not interested in expensive "scene" restaurants that are much more about the scene than the food--e.g., Tao, Japonais, etc.

I want a great, comfortable room and great food. I also have some time to plan this (her birthday is in January), so welcome any suggestions.

Can I get a "special" meal on a budget in NYC?

Sep 03, 2007
ftrain in Manhattan

Food near Marriott Wardman Park?

I'll echo atarah on the nod to Lebanese Taverna and Mama Ayesha. Both very good and, in my opinion, easily the best two restaurants in the Woodley Park neighborhood. If you aren't into Middle Eastern, definitely shoot up the road to Cleveland Park where there are several good places (that you can walk to if you don't want to take the Metro). Palena is very high end. Indique is good Indian. Vace, an Italian store, has terrific pizza slices, if you're looking for something to grab on the go.

Sep 03, 2007
ftrain in Washington DC & Baltimore

Must haves at Tao?

We just had dinner Saturday night at Tao and I found it pretty disappointing. I guess that's the right word. Overrated atmosphere (deafening music, loaded with tourists), and food that was no better than I've had at average chinese places, but twice the price. And my favorite part: getting seated for our "reservation" an hour late. That's actually the part that I find most unacceptable but that I feel like is now completely standard practice in NY. Why can't restaurants build a seating and reservation chart that enables those with reservations to be seated at least near the time they reserved for? It's disrespectful, and also trashes the other plans patrons may have for the evening.

Not even close to worth a return visit.

Sep 03, 2007
ftrain in Manhattan

Madison, NJ - Rose City Grille

Tried Rose City Grille last night. It's not perfect--e.g., I think restaurants should use cloth napkins rather than paper--but generally it was good for what it was and we'll try it again. At least it's another option in Madison.

Jul 07, 2007
ftrain in General Tristate Archive

RUB or Blue Smoke?

I can't speak to RUB, haven't tried it. But we ate at Blue Smoke last night, and while I greatly enjoyed the meal--loved the Texas ribs--I found it very expensive for what you got. If it's only a buck more than comparable places, then we should stop patronizing all of them and force them to get their prices in line. $22 for a "full" rack of eight ribs? $6+ for a pint of beer? $7+ for a slice of key lime pie? I mean, it's essentially a family friendly bar. And those are not family-friendly-bar prices.

Maybe this post paints me as a real cheap-ass, but I just feel like I've had better meals for the many dollars we dropped there.

May 27, 2007
ftrain in Manhattan

Il Bastardo-Anyone been there recently?

We went Saturday evening and I thought it was pretty good, but nothing overly memorable. I wouldn't make it a point to go back. Too many other great places to try at that price point.

May 14, 2007
ftrain in Manhattan

Best Pizza in DC Metro Area

I third both of these posters. DC isn't a New York pizza town. But that certainly never turned me off of 2 Amys, which I think is the best in the area, and among my favorite pizzas anywhere. Vace is also terrific, if you want takeout.

May 11, 2007
ftrain in Washington DC & Baltimore

Grill 73 - Bernardsville, NJ

We had dinner last night at Grill 73 in Bernardsville and liked it very much. Very comfortable room, good service and good food. My wife had the beef fajita, which was very tasty. I had the ahi tuna, which I thought was very well done. Overall, I would recommend it to others and plan to go back.

Apr 28, 2007
ftrain in General Tristate Archive

L'Allegria in Madison, NJ

Yeah, it's okay, but nothing special.

Apr 21, 2007
ftrain in Mid-Atlantic

Grimaldi's -- The Best?

Grimaldi's remains the best I've had in NY, and I've had many of the usual suspects. Had it again a few weeks ago for the first time in three years, and was reminded just how great it can be. I'm also a big fan of Arturo's on Houston.

Sep 20, 2006
ftrain in Manhattan

Japonais?

Solid food, lousy service, we won't be going back. Too many good places to eat to spend that kind of dough for that service.

Sep 20, 2006
ftrain in Manhattan