Fink’s: American; Dumont; 26 W Madison Av; 23/15/$30; 201-384-3210; http://finksbbqsmokehouse.com/Home.html; 201 Mag best BBQ in 2013; Has a full bar; Rave reviews for what is the best BBQ in Bergen; They have shrimp, smoked wings, bacon wrapped sausage on a stick, Beer/cheese pretzels. Also the classics: Pulled Pork, Spare Ribs, BBQ Chicken. Sampler plates available. Also a great take-out option.
*Haven Riverfront: American; Edgewater; 2 Main St @ River; 22/24/$55; 201-943-1900; www.havenedgewater.com; Known for near perfect views of Manhattan; Offer weekend brunch with 2 free Bloody’s for $24; Great bar and lounge area; Same owners as Hoboken’s 340 Grill; Large and spacious – great contemporary décor; For dinner: raw bar, Sea scallops, Yellowfin Tuna, Chilean Sea Bass, Monkfish, Short Ribs. Excellent date option.
*Pier 115 Bar & Grill: American; Edgewater; 115 River Rd; 22/24/$42; 201-313-2155; www.pier115barandgrill.com/; New hotspot open daily for lunch or dinner; Very cool interior – brick walls, wine bottles all over; Nice oak tables; Gastro Pub with 100 beers on tap; Date friendly; Outdoor seating available; Amazing views; Wood Fired pizzas; Pretzel with Cheese sauce, Tuna Tartare, Hummus, Wings, Incredible Burgers, Chilean Sea Bass, Linguine with Clan sauce.
City Pearch: American; Fort Lee; 2023 Hudson St; 24/23/$53; 201-582-7101; www.cityperch.com/; American entrees, pizzas and salads; Craft cocktails and whiskeys; Gorgeous views & outdoor seating; Service outstanding and every Yelp review replied to; Brunch weekends 10:30-3pm for $19.99 prix fixe – bottomless drinks $10 more; Menu outstanding – smoked salmon popovers, Burrata Margherita Pizza, Steak Frites, Lobster Dishes, Shrimp & Grits, Sea Bass, Happy Hour daily 3-6pm; Great for dinner or Brunch. Lots of seats at bar.
*Cheesecake Factory: American; Hackensack; 197 Riverside Sq Mall area; 21/17/$34; 201-488-0330; www.thecheesecakefactory.com; One of the longest menus you’ll ever see; Huge portions; Always decent and sometimes excellent; Great for large groups; Extremely popular- come early; Every possible cuisine available. One of the better American chain restaurants; Full bar; National chain whose formula works.
*Houston’s: American; Hackensack; Riverside Square Mall @ Rt 4; 24/21/$55; 201-488-5667; www.hillstone.com; Part of Hillstone ownership group; It’s an excellent high-end chain; Chicken finger appetizer is incredible; Grilled Bronzino, Pork Ribs, Rib-Eye, Pork Chops, Pan Seared Tuna, Prime Rib, NY Strip, Burgers & salads and also a fine wine list. Efficient service and date friendly. What a find for a mall-located restaurant. Great bar scene. Very pricy for genre overall.
*Port of Call: American Buffet; Hackensack; 450 Hackensack Av; 20/17/$28; 201-488-0888; www.pocrestaurants.com/ Huge buffet restaurant worth your time and a visit; Features a Panini station; Tons of seafood; Sushi stations- endless options; Hot entrees including Osso Bucco, Prime Rib and other great meat dishes; Chinese options; Raw Bar; Lots of desserts; BYO allowed. Great for families. Dinner M-Th $25 and $28 weekends; Lunch $14 M-F and $18 weekends.
*Stony Hill Inn: American; Hackensack; 231 Polifly Rd; 21/25/$59; 201-342-4085; www.stonyhillinn.com; Dining on a large estate- gorgeous setting; Filled with history; Menu inspired by Italian and French cuisine; High end shi-shi menu items but also many classic favorites like Linguine Carbonara, Shrimp Scampi and Calamari Fra Diavolo over linguine. Multiroom, elegant colonial charm; Wedding central here. Ideal for a special occasion. They serve Sunday Brunch Buffet for $30 w/ 1 free mimosa. Expensive tabs.
*Ivy Inn: American; Hasbrouck Heights; 268 Terrace Av; 22/24/$55; 201-393-7699; www.ivyinn.com; All kinds of dishes on the menu; Seafood to Cajun to French inspired to steaks; Relaxed, casual environment; Great brunch – well priced $23 2-course prix fixe w/ 1 drink; Cozy, romantic setting; Has an excellent bar complete with happy hour 4:30-6:30; European cottage house feel; Live Piano music on weekends. Great for lunch, romance, or a mature well managed dinner. 201 Mag winner for romance, brunch. Sautéed calamari. Filet Oscar.
Amanda’s: American; Hoboken; 908 Washington @ 9-10th St; 25/24/$56; 201-798-0101; www.amandasrestaurant.com; Romantic, elegant & charming; Perfect for a celebration, anniversary or date; Great attention to detail; Sunday Brunch is outstanding ($9 Bloodies); Gorgeous interior and service is solid. Not a huge menu selection, however. Early bird specials. Charming with top service. Seasonal menu so check website. Classy all the way. Dinner menu changes so check out website.
*Court Street: American; Hoboken; 61 6th St @ Hudson-Washington; 22/18/$41; 201-795-4515; www.courtstreet.com; Incredible Italian/ American menu; Fantastic, inexpensive brunch- pitchers of Bloody’ s, Mimosas or screwdrivers only $12; Wednesday is Lobster night – 2 for $36; Monday is Prime Rib night for $21.95; Well priced, giant steaks; Tasty pasta selections; Wine tastings; Something for everyone. Spacious décor; Excellent salads; Tons of seafood.
*Madison Bar & Grill: American; Hoboken; 1316 Washington Av @ 14th St; 21/19/$36; 201-386-0300; Catering to a hip 20s and 30s crowd at night; Incredible $31 all you can eat Sunday Brunch buffet with 1 drink included; Neighborhood favorite; Parking validation; Classic barroom; Great salads; Sliders; Paninis/ Sandwiches and standard American entrees; Laid back place; Weekend it’s a great bar scene. M-F Happy hour 4-8pm. www.madisonbarandgrill.com;
*Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern: American; Ho-Ho-Kus; 1 E Franklin Tpke; 22/24/$48; 201-445-4115; www.hohokusinn.com; Gorgeous multi-room setting ideal for showers, private events; Restaurant is in a Dutch Colonial mansion; They feature an incredible Sunday Brunch buffet for $35 with unlimited mimosas & Bloody Mary’s; Outdoor dining available; Full bar with BYO options; Best part- the cozy tavern for a drink to relax. 5 separate dining rooms add to charm. Non-brunch menu gets mixed reviews.
De Novo European Pub: American; Montclair; 275 Bellevue Av ; 22/20/$40 ; 973-893-5008; Former train station turned into this quaint Pub. Closed Monday; Great short ribs and pasta entrees delicious; Tuna tartare; Broiled Bronzino; This place can be for a nice dinner, drinks or something in-between. Nice date option as well. Lots of parking near-by helps. http://www.denovomontclair.com/
Pig & Prince: American; Montclair; 1 Lackawanna Plaza; 20/23/$53; 973-233-1006; www.pigandprince.com; Under the vaulted train station; Farm to table dishes; Seasonal New American menu; Full bar; Gastro-lounge feel; Soft Pretzels; Cheese & Meat plates; Lots of Risottos; Atlantic Cod; Pork Loin Chop; Duck Breast; Pan Roasted Skate; The menu is very eclectic; Very curious to try them out! Happy Hour 4-7pm Tues-Sat. Cool décor.
*Fire & Oak: American; Montvale; 100 Chestnut Ridge Rd; 21/23/$43; 201-307-1100; www.fireandoak.com/; Extremely cool, NYC lounge-like scene; Swanky, excellent bar area; Great menu with a combination of New American dishes and comfort food; Solid steaks; Mac N Cheese; Fancy cocktails and even flat screens for the game; Combination of elegance & upscale tavern. Trendy vibe – date friendly. Has sushi; Nice cocktails. Multiple dining rooms; Happy hour 4-7pm weekdays.
*Hearth & Tap: American; Montvale; 125 Kinderkamack Rd; 22/20/$44; 201-307-6300; https://hearthandtap.com/; Open daily for lunch & dinner; Gastropub; Mixed reviews on service and quality; Private parties welcomed; Comfort food central; Craft beers and whiskey; Pan Seared Meatballs; Numerous flatbreads; Mac N Cheese is delish; Grilled Lamb steak; King Salmon; Herder’s Pie; Pappardelle stroganoff. Cool décor & nice bar.
*Hobby’s Deli: Deli; Newark; 32 Branford Pl; 25/12/$19; 973-623-0410; www.hobbysdeli.com/; Load up before a Devils game; Monstrous sized sandwiches; Super-friendly staff, welcoming feel; Soups are incredible; Grilled Cheese; Endless list of sandwich options and platters. Hungry writing this! Lunch and breakfast and dinner before Devils games. Website has mouthwatering images of menu. Closed Sunday. Just rave reviews. Serve beer/wine.
*Waterside: American; North Bergen; 21/25/$59; 7800 River Rd; 21/25/$60; http://watersiderestaurantandcatering.com/; Jaw dropping views of Manhattan; Major event space/ catering hall; Full bar; Ideal for a date; Wonderful Raw bar; King Crab legs, charred calamari & octopus salad, Buffalo Mozz & Tomatoes, Seared scallops, tons of salads, pork chops, lamb chops, cowboy steak, lots of fish, osso bucco. Menu is huge and delish. Boneless oxtail; Homemade Mozz; Lamb rib-lets;
*Chakra: American; Paramus; 144 Rt 4 E @ Arcadian; 21/24/$53; 201-556-1530; www.chakrarestaurant.com/; Stunning décor and interior made for impressing a date; Asian fusion/ American cuisine; Romantic with a large selection of fancy cocktails; Palm trees add to the serene feel; There is a lounge as well; Later at night more of a younger scene; Attractive servers; Sushi on the menu; Cumfy booths available. Nice eclectic menu, unique.
*Grand Lux: American; Paramus; 1 Garden St Plaza Mall; 21/20/$35; 201-909-0399; www.grandluxcafe.com/; Might be 200 items on the menu; Similar to Cheesecake factory in style/ theme but slightly fancier; Huge variety of food and drinks; Fun time for a relaxed family dinner or lunch. Great Martinis and cocktails. Actually an ideal bar scene for a break from shopping or a liquid lunch with bar food. Does get packed on Saturday.
*Esty Street: American; Park Ridge; 86 Spring Valley Rd; 26/23/$66; 201-307-1515; www.estystreet.com; New American seasonal menu; Décor replicates a library- formal-ish feel; Serious dining and you will be taken care of. Soft Shell Crab appetizer looks amazing. Brunch menu (pricy) and a nice bar. Sophisticated-cool. Private club feel; Average sized portions. Tuna tartar appetizer. Lobster Caesar salad. Great for special occasions but bring your charge card – expensive. Tons of specials – expensive – but half portion available.
*Café Panache: American; Ramsey; 130 E Main St @ Franklin Tpk; 25/23/$63; 201-934-0030; www.cafepanachenj.com; More of a formal dining experience; High end cuisine, expertly prepared; Spot on service and a relaxing setting provide for a true old school dining treat. Dress nicely. Short menu but everything is superbly prepared. BYO helps with cost; Seasonal menu – check website. First class all the way. Try filet Mignon ravioli. Has gone downhill slightly from its hay-days.
MK Valencia: American; Ridgefield Park; 228 Main St; 23/22/$48; 201-373-0228; Beautiful interior ideal for dates and romance as well as fun & classy night out; Full bar- pricy mixed drinks; NYC vibe; Happy hour specials at bar; Caprese Salad, Lots of pasta dishes, Short Ribs, Hanger Steak, Osso Bucco, & raw bar. Great menu for anyone. Worth the splurge; Brunch served- bottomless drinks for $12 extra. Very cool spot. www.mkvalenciarestaurant.com;
Café 37: New American; Ridgewood; 37 S Broad St; 24/21/$59; 201-857-0437; www.cafe-37.com/; Foodies rejoice here at former Latour chef’s new date-friendly, mature restaurant; Dishes include Ahi Tuna, Pan Seared Salmon, Diver Scallops, Pork tenderloin, Grilled Australian Lamb chops, Short Ribs. BYO policy. Beautiful looking place; Smallish portions and not inexpensive. To me it’s a worthwhile adventure. Fresh Buff Mozz. Closed Mondays. The new Café Panache? (me)
Park West Tavern: American; Ridgewood; 30 Oak St @ Franklin; 21/17/$45; 201-445-5400; www.parkwesttavern.com/; From the management of The Park steakhouse in Park Ridge; Nice happy hour in their full bar; Great atmosphere; Steaks and meat items are the way to go; Weekend brunch; Tons of beer, wine and fun cocktail options; $25 bottles of wine; Date friendly; Not a huge menu, however. I suggest sharing a few items off the ‘community dishes’ (apps) menu, such as Lobster or Kobe beer sliders and enjoy the bar. Chilled Seafood Platter.
Pearl Restaurant: New American; Ridgewood; 17 S Broad St @ Ridgewood; 23/20/$48; 201-857-5100; Nice ever changing menu based on what fresh ingredients available; About 15 main courses to select from – half seafood; Monkfish, Red Snapper, Salmon, Lamb, Duck, & a couple pasta items usually available; Date friendly – romantic; Open daily 5-10pm; BYO; Often have Burrata, Little Neck Clams, and homemade pastas. Bistro setting. http://www.pearlridgewood.com/
Raymond’s: American; Ridgewood; 101 E Ridgewood Av; 24/18/$28; 973-744-9263; www.raymondsnj.com; Brunch is flat out amazing here- Mmm French toast; B-L-D American BYO institution; Looks like a soda parlor; Outdoor seating; Wildly popular – long lines for Sunday Brunch; Best for Lunch or Breakfast. Fantastic burgers, sandwiches; Friendly service; Locals rave about it. Eggs Benedict, French Toast stand out.
Village Green: American; Ridgewood; 36 Prospect St; 25/21/$65; 201-445-2914; www.villagegreenrestaurant.com; Small Plates; BYO; Romantic setting; This place specializes in a tasting menu- 5 courses for $65 and you get 4 items per course to choose from; Lunch tasting is 3 courses for $25; Food is outstanding and certainly a ‘foodie’ mainstay. Smallish portions. Really cute cottage house interior – date friendly. Former Latour chef runs the place.
*Saddle River Inn: New American; Saddle River; 2 Barnstable Ct @ Saddle River Rd; 27/26/$61; 201-825-4016; High end elegance; Many French inspired dishes as well; Fancily prepared and presented masterpieces; New ownership and chef – but haven’t lost their touch; More affordable than you think as it is BYO; Perfect service; Spectacular setting; Only drawback is possibly serving sizes and the limited menu. Extremely romantic. Reservations a must. Closed Sunday & Monday. Tuna carpaccio; Caprese; Crabmeat salad; Sea Bass; Yellowfin Tuna; Lobster Risotto; www.saddleriverinn.com;
*Palmer’s Crossing: American; Tenafly; 145 Dean Dr; 20/18/$45; 201-567-4800; www.palmerscrossingrestaurant.com/; Weekend Brunch buffet – Free champagne after noon; 11am-2pm; Happy Hour M-F 4-7pm w/ half priced apps & $3.50 beer, $4.50 wine & well. Bar menu for Apps is outstanding; Great thin crust pizzas; Dinner menu features Lobster Quesadillas; Gourmet burgers; Meatloaf; NY Sirloin; Seafood pasta.
*BiBi’z: American; Westwood; 284 Center Av @ Westwood; 20/21/$43; 201-722-8600; www.bibizlounge.com; Also a lounge with Ladies night on Thursdays; Daily happy hour 3-6:30pm; Very interesting all-day menu including seared tuna, chicken, beef, lamb, pasta, sandwiches, salads – everything. Only issue – mixed service quality. Lounge food is way to go over restaurant. Food and service going downhill in recent years. Stick to brunch or the bar/happy hour for tasty nibbles.