*Allendale Steakhouse: Steakhouse; Allendale; 95 W Allendale Av; 24/19/$55; 201-962-9797; Excellently flavored steaks; Closed Monday; BYO – hugely rare for a steakhouse; Try the porterhouse for 2 or the lamb chops; Great chilled seafood platter appetizer; Jumbo lump crabmeat; Chef is a former Benjamin Steakhouse & Lugar allum; Surf & Turf for $41; Rib Eye; Swordfish; Great sides. Thick cut bacon; Buffalo Mozz; Chilean Sea Bass; Lobster; Cornish Hen and steaks galore! www.allendalesteakhousenj.com
Masa Sushi & Grill: Japanese; Allendale; 81 W Allendale Av; 24/18/$42; 201-934-6616; http://masasushiandgrill.com/; Great food served by a welcoming staff; Large menu with lots of non-traditional items such as Lamb Chop appetizer; King Crab app; Salmon or Tuna tartare; Amazing dumplings; Shrimp tempura to die for; Omakase available; BYO; The sushi is swimmingly fresh; Absolutely worth a visit. Try the sushi/sashimi combo; Grilled whole Calamari app; Grilled Duck app;
Nirvana: Indian; Allendale; 29 W Allendale Av; 25/18/$36; 201-818-2300; www.nirvanaindiankitchen.com/; Great new-ish place that is receiving rave reviews; Lunchtime buffet; BYO; About 15 different appetizers and Chaat; Wonderful tandoor selections; Butter Chicken; Chicken Tikka Masala; Chicken Makhani; Rogan Josh; Lamb Saag; Lamb Phaal; many vegetarian & vegan dishes. Several kinds of Naan available. It is a must try for Indian lovers. Staff very friendly as well.
*Savini: Italian; Allendale; 168 W Crescent Av; 24/21/$43; 201-760-3700; Beautiful setting in a country house; Date-friendly; Menu includes Caprese, Smoked Salmon, Seafood Salad, Crab Cocktail, Rock Shrimp, Lobster Tails Fra Diavolo, Shrimp scampi, Crème Brule. Enjoy dinner by the fireplace in winter; Lots of specials as well; Lively bar scene; Crowd is 30s-50s. 2014 Best of Bergen for best wine list, cocktails, & 2nd for Italian http://www.savinirestaurant.com/
*Kiku: Japanese; Alpine; 5-9 Route 9W; 23/23/$48; 201-767-6322; Hibachi show- skilled chefs performing as they cook for you; Top notch slice and dice show; Pretty tasty sushi and sashimi as well; Great for dates or groups and special events; Gorgeous Alpine location. Exotic drinks. Fun time. Huge portions; Only restaurant in Alpine – maybe you’ll spot a local celeb. 201 Mag winner for best Japanese. I love the place. But it is gimmicky.
*Chapala Grill: Mexican; Bergenfield; 52 S Washington Av; 23/16/$36; 201-387-2107; www.chapalamexicangrill.com/; Fairly authentic Mexican classics; Gigantic menu consisting of any variety of combos and specialties; Guac and drinks are flavorful and a highlight; Mid-scale in terms of fanciness. Appealing service. Great neighborhood find; Try the fresh fruit margaritas or fish tacos; Full bar; Rack of Lamb; Incredible enchiladas & Fajitas.
Aki: Japanese; Bloomfield; 1273 Broad St; 24/17/$35; 973-338-5030; www.akisushius.com/; Tons of sushi, sashimi and rolls to pick from- one of the largest menus I’ve seen; Cooked entrees as well; Dinner box specials; Well-presented and tranquil; More affordable sushi alternative without sacrificing freshness. Exotic rolls as well. It’s BYO. Great website; Offer brunch as well (all you can eat for $21); Cool, local neighborhood place- but not fancy. Excellent options although so-so ish décor.
Bloomfield Steak & Seafood House: Seafood/Steak; Bloomfield; 409 Franklin St; 21/18/$44; 973-680-4500; Occupies a 17th century home; Friendly staff aim to please; Outdoor patio in summer; Full bar with “heavy pours”; Closed Monday; Try: the angry shrimp, Crab Bisque, Sea Bass, Honey garlic wings, Clams, and the large assortment of steaks. Have a nice burger as well. Cheap for the genre. http://www.eatbeefgethooked.com/;
Brookside Thai: Thai; Bloomfield; 380 Broad St @ Pitt; 21/19/$27; 973-566-0057; What a long, mouthwatering menu; BYO; All of your favorite Thai selections; Try the Pad Thai and Panang Curry; Delightful spices; Very large portions. $7.95 lunch specials M-F; Dirt cheap even for dinner as most entrees are under $10. I’d get 3 main courses for 2 and split them like a buffet! Service is questionable. http://www.brooksidethai.net/
Momoya: Japanese; Bloomfield; 390 Broad St; 25/18/$40; 973-748-0077; http://sushimomoyanj.com/; Photos on their website will make you crave their food; Sushi impossibly fresh; Gorgeous presentation of the food; Sashimi entrée with 20 pieces only $25; Endless menu with tons of regular and special rolls; 20+ appetizers; Hand rolls about $6; Special rolls $11-$14. Just a great bargain yet incredible meal. Must try. Casual setting.
Pandan Asian Cuisine: Filipino / Asian Fusion; Bloomfield; 406 Broad St @ Baldwin; 24/17/$30; 973-748-9997; www.pandanasiancuisine.com/ Focus on Filipino cuisine; Huge portions in an intimate, cozy setting; Try the various Dumplings; Soups are a meal in themselves; Pork and Chicken dishes stand. Leftovers for sure. BYO; Delicious Thai selections as well. And, the prices are oh so right. Go crazy and share 3 dishes if you are two people to fully explore the menu. Very inexpensive meal for dinner.
Spice Thai Cuisine: Thai; Bloomfield; 26 Belleville Ave; 24/19/$27; www.spicethainj.com; Absolutely authentic cooking; BYO; Can get crowded; Excellent service; Incredibly good reviews on Yelp; People love the authentic flavors and the spicy offerings; Closed Monday; Soft Shell Crab; Yellow Chicken Curry; Pad See Eiw; Thai Basil Duck; The menu has nearly 100 choices on it and the service is top notch. Try this restaurant!
*La Famiglia: Italian; Bogota; 107 E Main St @ Palisade; 23/15/$38; 201-489-1713; www.lafamiglia.biz/; Menu highlights include house-made pastas, traditional Italian appetizers, fresh fish and flavorful meats; BYO; Filled nightly with locals, staff will treat you like family; Extremely affordable classics are served. Calamari Fra Diavolo, Chicken Francese, Linguini con Vongole stand out. As authentic as it gets. Specials galore.
Riviera Maya: Mexican; Bogota; 252 East Fort Lee Rd; 21/15/$26; 201-996-1380; Live Music Thurs and Friday; Authentic cuisine, under the radar local spot; Extremely affordable and surprisingly good; Large portions; BYO – rare for a Mexican place; Come here when you are craving Mexican and prepare for leftovers; All the standards well prepared. $5 margaritas at times. https://www.rivieramayamexicancuisine.com/
*Biggies: Seafood; Carlstadt; 430 Rt 17S @ Broad St; 19/17/$33; 201-933-4000; www.biggiesclambar.com; Truly a seafood-centric sports bar that is always popular due to drink specials and food specials and overall great pricing; It’s a fun place to go; Don’t expect expert service if its busy; Known for amazing clams; Hoboken and Ramsey locations not listed on my site; Cheesecake Factory sized menu (and quality). Nice raw bar. Known for their bar scene. Roasted clams, Oysters Rockefeller, Great Wings & Soups, Dozens of sandwiches including a Lobster Roll
*Gianna’s: Italian; Carlstadt; 843 Washington Av @ Moonachie; 21/18/$41; 201-460-7997; www.giannas.biz; Been around since 2000 and they focus on huge family style portions; Thus, this place is great with a group of 6 or more; Individual portions available; Nice bar area; Good bang for the buck if you go family style; Attentive staff; Some question the overall product. Large menu; Excellent soups. Shrimp Scampi is great.
Hunkar Restaurant: Turkish; Carlstadt; 319 Hackensack St; 24/20/$29; 201-507-0606; www.hunkarrestaurant.com; Has BYO; the full package of cool décor, attentive service and authentic cuisine cooked to perfection; Back patio with Manhattan views; Home cooked meals; Get the mixed grill, I demand it! Shepherds salad is spot on; Tons to pick from on extensive menu; Order lots to share. Alternative to eating Greek. Lamb shank.
*Il Villaggio: Italian; Carlstadt; 651 Rt 17N @ Passaic Av; 24/23/$57; 201-935-7733; www.ilvillaggio.com; Upscale, mature setting; Classic Northern Italian dishes; The double cut Veal Chop and Crème Brule stand out; Huge menu & massive place; Smoked salmon; Seafood Salad; Chilean Sea Bass; Bronzino; Lobster Tails; Excellent, reliable restaurant. Mature date night or perfect for mature crowd; Great wine list. Endless specials… King Crab appetizer. Truly a great place. Even has a large bar area. Function hall/ weddings too. Full bar.
*Steve’s Sizzling Steaks: Steakhouse; Carlstadt; 620 Rt 17 @ Passaic Av; 23/15/$45; 201-438-9677; Thick, juicy well seasoned steaks; Down home, relaxed setting; Perfect before a trip to the NJ sports complexes; French Onion soup outstanding; Steak Fries epic; Also, known for an excellent burger. Inexpensive for steak. Fun website. As casual and welcoming as it gets. Mixed reviews on service. Full bar. Jumbo Crab Claws; Grilled Steak Tips over salad; Cowboy, Ribeye, Porterhouse, Filet, Sirloin. www.steves-sizzling-steaks.com/
Avo’s Grill: Mediterranean; Cliffside Park; 720 Anderson Av; 24/19/$37; 201-945-9038; http://avosgrill.com/; Unreal reviews on diners from Yelp; Pleasant setting and nicer service; Meze dips are great; BYO; Large menu with unique items as well –even pasta; Burgers and sandwiches; Steaks and Falafel; Ideal spot for lunch or a casual dinner. They sure know how to grill food!
Black Beard Ramen: Japanese; Cliffside Park; 607 Gorge Rd; 24/14/$15; 201-943-8003; www.blackbeardramen.com/; Closed Mondays, BYO; You come here for 1 reason – Ramen noodles; I can’t suggest the Tonkotsu Ramen highly enough; Large portion for only $11 – a steal for this meal. Only 4 Ramen dishes to choose from but it doesn’t matter. Just order some soup and enjoy! Weekend lunch spot only in my mind.
Dayi’nin Yeri: Turkish; Cliffside Park; 333 Palisade Av; 25/17/$31; 201-840-1770; Amazing Turkish BYO; Kababs other worldly; Lamb Chops are succulent; Pita bread baked fresh daily; Best Kunefe in Jersey; All the local Turkish people rave about the authenticity; I suggest getting the large mixed appetizer and then a combo Kebab for main course (to share of course). Have many Turkish pizzas as well. http://dayininyerinj.com/turkish_food/Dayininyeri.html
Petite Soo Chow: Chinese; Cliffside Park; 607 Gorge Rd; 23/13/$32; 201-313-1666; BYO; Shanghai style Chinese; Very popular in the area; Endless menu; Soup Dumplings are their signature dish, called Xiaolongbao; Dim Sum typical menu; Always packed. Similar to Joe’s Shanghai in Manhattan. One of the best (and only) sit-down Chinese restaurants in Bergen, a sorely lacking genre. Best for weekend lunch. NY Times loves them! https://petitesoochow.eat24hour.com/
Rudy’s Seafood Restaurant: Seafood; Cliffside Park; 591 Anderson Av; 24/15/$35; 201-943-9252; Pizzeria & restaurant; Super casual for dinner; Has a full bar; Tons of regulars; Old school feel; Seafood Salad, Grilled Shrimp, “Pot of Clams”, Sautéed Calamari, Blackened Scallops, and lots of chicken & veal entrees. Fresh pasta dishes and amazing heros. Ideal for lunch or casual weekday dinner. http://rudyscliffsidenj.com/;
*Buco: Italian; Clifton; 953 Allwood Rd @ Rt 602; 22/17/$37; 973-779-3500; www.bucoristorante.com; Popular old school Jersey Italian joint; Friendly service, large portions, and one of the biggest menus you’ll ever see; Tons of pasta, chicken, port and veal dishes; Great place to go with family and good for groups. 7 soups on the menu. Also, well-spaced tables. Romantic vibe for couples. Nice wine list (full bar). Mmm Seafood salad.
Chengdu 46: Chinese; Clifton; 1105 Rt 46 @ Rock Hill Rd; 20/17/$41; 973-777-8855; www.chengdu46.com; Upscale Chinese that could use a facelift; Has a bar and wine list; Solid reviews in Zagats and can Chinese food, both high end and regular take out, ever be that far apart? Worth dining out here overall. $14.95 Sunday Lunch special perfect time to go. Gets better every year. Peking Duck amazing. For a ‘nicer’ Chinese experience.
Clifton Thai: Thai; Clifton; 239 Parker Av; 25/15/$36; 973-253-1400; www.cliftonthainj.com/; Incredible reviews from all sources; Tasty, fresh food; Try the Basil Chicken, Drunken Noodles or Green Curry; Grilled Chicken Dumplings; Duck entrees for under $20; Incredibly affordable; I’d order 3 main courses for 2 people as it’s so cheap and have leftovers; You will come back; BYO and lunch specials; Closed Monday.
La Riviera Gastronomia: Italian; Clifton; 429 Piaget Av; 25/18/$37; 973-772-9099; Incredibly good reviews; Very inexpensive; Basic menu featuring expected Italian classics; Standing out is the delicious seafood salad; Veal Parm; and the many pasta dishes- all large portions; Closed Monday; BYO; Must try the Tagliatelle Bolognese. If you love pasta – come here. Special quality. www.yelp.com/biz/la-riviera-gastronomia-clifton
La Riviera Trattoria: Italian; Clifton; 421 Piaget Av; 25/20/$45; 973-478-4181; www.larivieratrattoria.com/; Rave reviews on Yelp; Stuffed Artichoke is a favorite; Closed Monday; Formal-ish; Chilled seafood salad; Bufala Mozz; Homemade pastas; Lots of specials served daily; Calamari Salad; Excellent antipasto; Chicken “Hunter” style; Calamari Costa Viola; Shrimp scampi. Amazing service. Great website. Linguine Vongole is perfection. Lots of chicken, fish, veal and pasta selections.
Matthew’s: Italian; Clifton; 1131 Bloomfield Av; 26/19/$38; 973-928-4300; http://www.matthewsitalian.com/; Classy, cozy restaurant ideal for a date; Excellent service; Food cooked to order; Freshest ingredients; Restaurant that cares; Full bar; Young energetic owner; Very inexpensive overall; Shrimp cocktail, Stuffed Artichoke, Antipastos, Seafood salad, excellent soups, Stuffed Shrimp or scampi, Calamari Fra Diavolo stand out. Rave reviews by all; Seafood Salad is insane; Stuffed Artichoke; Full bar.
*Bone Gusto: Italian; Closter; 534 Durie Av @ High; 25/15/$42; 201-784-9036; http://www.buongustocloster.com/; Charming BYO Italian; The menu is large and the list of specials even larger; If you crave it – they will make it for you; Suffers from cramp seating so don’t go if there is more than 4 of you; Food is outstanding here as is the service. Home cooked meals and staff are all knowledgeable about menu. Tons of regulars here. Closed Sunday & Monday. Old school Italian at its best.
*The Hill: Seafood; Closter; 252 Schraalenburgh Rd; 27/22/$64; 201-899-4700; www.thehillcloster.com; Chef Ben Pollinger, formally of Oceana in NYC brings his Michelin starred talents to Bergen County; The former Harvest space is gorgeous inside featuring the beamed high ceilings and wood-burning fireplace – with a more modern décor than in the past; Menu is New American / Seafood and although pricy, is worth the splurge; The Soft Shell crabs were outstanding and the service excellent despite the fact they just opened; I was there on day #3; Closed Monday; Full bar. Foodies will rejoice.
*Locale: Italian; Closter; 208 Piermont; 21/21/$53; 201-750-3233; http://locale208closter.com/; Italian-Med flavor; Exposed brick fire place décor and great bar area; Private functions; Great martinis, cocktails; Outdoor seating; Buffalo Mozz, Smoked Salmon, Shellfish platters, Escargot, Dozen pasta dishes, Long Island Duck, Zuppa di Pesce, Rib Eye Steak, Veal dishes; Lots of effort and variety. 201 Mag: Top 3 outdoor dining.
*Rudy’s: Italian; Closter; 71 Closter Plaza; 24/14/$31; 201-768-8444; http://www.rudyspizza.com/; 201 Mag Best Pizza; Incredible pizza; Homemade Lasagna; Try the Rudy’s Special “Sonya” salad with grilled calamari or chicken; Amazing cold and hot subs; Monster sized pasta dishes; Endless menu; Old school real-deal Italian cuisine; Huge take out business; Has full bar – dirt cheap martinis and house wine. The service is often lacking – and take-out staff is gruff to say the least. Been around since 1963. Best for lunch.
*Sear House: Steakhouse; Closter; 411 Piermont Rd; 24/25/$64; 201-768-2011; www.searhouse.com; Finally a steakhouse with a gorgeous, sleek interior and romantic female-friendly vibe; Excellent bar scene and wonderful cocktails; Very attentive service; Amazing thick bacon by the slice; Menu highlights: Crab Cake; Mozz & Tomatoes; Onion Soup; Rib Eye; NY Sirloin; Porterhouse; Sushi grade Tuna; Lobster; Broiled Shrimp. Lobster Mashed and Mac N Cheese; Just high quality rivaling The Park.
Zendiggi Kebab House: Iranian; Closter; 228 Closter Dock Rd; 22/17/$25; 201-768-0644; https://zendiggi.com/; The best falafel around; Very traditional Persian cuisine; Clean and casual inside; Excellent service; Also have Kebab and gyro sandwiches and various platters with lamb, chicken or beef and a salad. Probably best for lunch. BYO. Open daily; They cater as well.
*GRK Grill: Greek; Cresskill; 39 Union Av; 24/19/$43; 201-399-7670; www.grkgrillnj.com; Huge menu for a Greek establishment; Amazing specials; Love the appetizer options including Spinach Dumplings, Saganaki, Grilled Calamari and of course spreads. Try the Branzino, Red Snapper or Swordfish. Traditional Greek dishes such as Mousaka and Gyro platters stand out as well. Full liquor license. Great location in Cresskill’s downtown.
*Samdan: Turkish; Cresskill; 178 Piermont Rd @ Union Av; 23/17/$45; 201-816-7343; www.samdanrestaurant.com; The grilled seafood and meats stand out; Kebab heaven; Dining room somewhat plain and formal- certainly a mature setting; Very traditional dishes; One of the few Turkish restaurants in county. Interesting wine list; Limited seafood options; Easy-to-share portions; Fairly priced main courses. If you love lamb, prepare! Website has pictures of all the dishes. Meat lover’s dream.
*Umeya: Sushi; Cresskill; 156 Piermont Rd; 24/17/$48; 201-816-0511; www.umeyasushi.com; Great local sushi house; Sushi chefs stand behind an open kitchen setting; Super fresh fish; Liquor license and huge Saki options; Service is slow – always – but the food makes up for it. Have a few appetizers which are delicious. Omakase is another great way to go. Reserve a table on weekends.
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.
*Il Mulino: Italian; Dumont; 132 Veterans Plaza; 21/19/$41; 201-384-8016; http://www.ilmulinodumont.com/; Reliable southern Italian from the owners of Café Italiano in Englewood Cliffs; Soft Shell crab in season is excellent; BYO policy always helps; Attentive staff and a relaxed, casual environment; Menu has something for everyone and always some daily specials to entice; Great family or date restaurant. Sautéed calamari.
Al Di La Bistro: Italian; East Rutherford; 1Hoboken Rd; 23/16/$42; 201-939-1128; www.aldilaitalianbistro.com/; Great ‘classic’ Italian restaurant with a large selection of pasta, fish, veal and chicken dishes; Tapas/small plate menu available in addition to normal sizes; Very affordable; Venetian style; Stand outs include Seafood Salad, Ahi Tuna Tartare, Sunday Gravy Rigatoni, & Pork Osso Bucco; Lots of specials; Bottles of wine under $30.
Arigato: Japanese; Edgewater; 1034 River Road; 21/17/$35; 201-886-1233; http://arigatonj.com/; This is an all you can eat restaurant – ideal for a casual date. Dinner only. Huge selection with incredibly tasty appetizers; The sushi rolls could use less rice and more fish; BYOB; Nice location in northern Edgewater with great views- but not on the water. Great for someone new to sushi to try a number of items.
*Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse: Steakhouse; Edgewater; 90 The Promenade @ River Rd; 24/22/$66; 201-313-9463; www.flemingssteakhouse.com; Excellent restaurant; Check out the website loaded with specials and graphic detail on the food; Incredibly fresh seafood; Expert cocktails; Mouthwatering steaks- Rib Eye & Filet way to go; Beautiful views of NY. They stick to a formula with less of a typical old boy feel. Nice happy hour. Feature 100+ wines by the glass; Comfortable seating. Dinner only. Prime Rib featured Sundays. Burrata. Chilled seafood tower for two.
*Greek Taverna: Greek; Edgewater; 55 Promenade @ River Rd; 22/18/$35; 201-945-8998; www.greektavernausa.com; The price is right; The selection is huge- particularly the appetizers; The food is excellent; Having a grilled whole fish may be way to go; It is BYO; Open kitchen adds an air of class to the otherwise laid back mini-chain. Lamb chops stand out as well. Has Grilled Calamari! Large portions.
*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.
*Jack’s Lobster: Seafood; Edgewater; 1040 River Rd; 24/12/$46; 201-224-2808; http://jackslobstershack.com/; Extremely small almost take-out location; Amazing fresh soups, lobster and sandwiches; Clam Strips, Steamers, Steampots with seafood galore; Signature Lobster Roll Maine or Connecticut style; Crab Salad. King Crab, Snow Crab or Dungeness Crab legs. Just seafood heaven – but uncomfortable setting. BYO helps.
*Kinara: Indian; Edgewater; 880 River Rd; 22/17/$41; 201-313-0555; Excellent prepared dishes – better than the buffet; Dumpy outside but somewhat stylish interior; BYO a plus; Very authentic, not overly spicy- ask for hotter if you like that; Huge a la carte menu; Affordable pricing; Pretty much offer anything you can think of. Safe bet for reliable Indian fare. Chicken Makhani; Buffet is $10 and daily. https://www.yelp.com/biz/kinara-edgewater
Mitchell’s Fish Market: Seafood; Edgewater; 541 River Rd; 20/23/$52; 201-840-9311; Replaced Crab House. Regional chain restaurant comes to Edgewater; Food quality reviews are mixed so far – but the insanely beautiful views and great drinks are not. Happy Hour Sun-Fri 3-7pm with $5 drafts, $6 wine & martinis; Iced Seafood tower, Seared Ahi Tuna, Charbroiled Oysters or Shrimp, Bronzino, King Crab, Lobster Tails, Lots of Fish. www.mitchellsfishmarket.com/home.php
Namaste: Nepalese; Edgewater; 1086 River Rd; 25/18/$34; 201-224-8777; Exotic flavorings in this Indian influenced Nepalese restaurant; Chicken Makhani, Tikka Masala and Lamb Korma; Tons of appetizers under $8; Try the Himalayan Soup; 20 or so vegetarian entrees; Has my Goat Curry; “Momo” their take on Dumplings; The Naan is wonderful; Very affordable. Try something new. www.yelp.com/biz/namaste-edgewater
*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.
*Rebecca’s: Cuban; Edgewater; 236 Old River Rd; 23/20/$47; 201-943-8808; http://new.rebeccasedgewater.com/; One of the best Cuban restaurants in the county; Addictive food; Incredible quality; BYO helps with the cost; They serve wine only as well; Fun, friendly staff; Secluded backyard for dates; Smallish- romantic feel. Every Cuban dish you’d expect is on the menu. Try the roast pork; Sort of a Cuban-Caribbean fusion. Charming space. Excellent website with photos.
*River Palm: Steakhouse; Edgewater; 1416 River Rd @ Palisade Terrace; 201-224-2013; www.riverpalm.com; One of the best known steakhouses in NJ; Sides are very inexpensive with many to choose from- as are the salads; Steaks are $27 – $40 on average; Also Lamb chops, Lobster, Shrimp, and chicken dishes. Expensive sushi- tons of rolls – in Edgewater & Mahwah locations; Fish selections as well…. Truly a massive menu for a steakhouse. They do it right. Each location has a different personality. 201 Mag 3-time winner Best Steakhouse.
*Royal Warsaw: Polish; Elmwood Park; 871 River Dr; 24/20/$33; 201-794-9277; www.royalwarsaw.com; Polish comfort food including great potato pancakes; Hopping bar scene featuring Wednesday ladies night; Imported beers; Unusual dishes, creative cuisine; Huge menu to sample all the classics of the region. Website has pictures and descriptions of most dishes; Food cleverly presented; You will go home with leftovers; Inexpensive drinks; Party/ date atmosphere. Pierogi mania; Even serve Frog legs. Happy Hour 3-6pm; Closed Monday.
Taverna Mykonos: Greek; Elmwood Park; 238 Broadway; 25/22/$49; 201-703-9200; www.tavernamykonos.com/; Menu is a fusion of Greek and Mediterranean; Comfortable, pleasant setting; Full bar with a nice wine list; Try the Saganaki, Greek meatballs, Mediterranean Spreads, Chopped Salad, Lavraki (sea bass), Crabmeat over sole, Seafood platter, Moussaka, Lamb Shank or chops; Sea bass; Huge menu overall; Delicious! Date friendly in an upscale setting; Rave reviews everywhere. Closed Monday.
Cinar Turkish: Turkish; Emerson; 214 Kinderkamack; 25/17/$33; 201-523-9284; www.cinaremerson.com/; Incredibly popular mini-chain with loyal fans; Try the Turkish Dumplings, Warm Hummus, Lamb Adana with Salad; Large selection of dinner salads; Short Rib flatbread Pizza, Grilled Octopus, Cinar Borek – puff pastry with cheese and leeks; Lamb Shank, Whole Grilled Bronzino. Looks amazing. Owner super friendly. Full bar.
*Pimaan Thai Restaurant: Thai; Emerson; 79 Kinderkamack Rd; 24/17/$35; 201-967-0440; Consistent quality and service; Noodles and curries stand out; Excellent lunch specials; Soft Shell crab available; BYO; Will accommodate any plate; Pleasant experience though more of a spot for locals. Serviceable restaurant with well-presented dishes. Shrimp Pad Thai is tops; 201 Mag Best Thai winner 3x. Best Thai restaurant in Bergen county easily. Only issue is speed food comes out when busy. www.pimaanthai.com/
*Akai Lounge: Japanese; Englewood; 11 N Dean St; 26/21/$43; 201-541-0086; www.akailounge.com; One of the best sushi restaurants in Bergen; Full non-Sushi Japanese/ Asian Fusion menu; Perfect date spot; Well-made cocktails; Hipster cool; Creative rolls; Tuna Guac appetizer- yum. NYC Chelsea feel. Absolute must try. Only possible issue is portion size with some dishes. Try the Rock Shrimp and special rolls & lychee martini! Soup Dumplings on menu; Friendly service and great location. Gigantic menu.
*Bennies: Lebanese; Englewood; 54 E Palisade Av @ Grand; 24/14/$31; 201-894-5700; www.benniesofenglewood.com; Truly authentic Lebanese regional cuisine; Spinach, cheese and meat pie appetizers; Chicken Shawarma sandwich, Falafel and Shish Kebob stands out; Hookah options. Been around 20 years and owned by same family; The food will impress you – even if Mediterranean cuisine isn’t your thing. Grilled Ahi Tuna; BYO.
*Blue Moon Mexican Café: Mexican; Englewood; 21 E Palisade; 24/18/$35; 201-541-0600; Hip, Americanized versions of the Mexican classics; High energy and lively; Upscale Mexican serviced in a laid back environment- almost a club feel; Excellent margaritas; Mouthwatering appetizers including Guacamole; Unique main courses; Just better than the rest. Englewood location expanded to feature a huge bar area with great drink specials. Happy Hour 4-7pm $3 sangria, beer. www.bluemoonmexicancafe.com/;
*Daruma: Japanese; Englewood; 45 N Dean St; 22/18/$40; 201-567-9600; http://darumaenglewood.com/; Look out Akai, Englewood has new competition in the ‘where to take your date for amazing sushi’ battle; Extremely fresh and creating special rolls; Option to sit Japanese-style; BYO keeps costs down; Service is friendly and attentive; Soft shell crab roll even available; Appetizers are solid as well and Tempura ice cream available. Chilean Sea Bass; Shrimp Dynamite; Incredible lunch specials.
*Nori Japanese Cuisine: Sushi; Englewood; 27/15/$35; 201-568-1148; http://norienglewood.com/; Near perfect reviews on Yelp can’t be ignored; Open daily for lunch and dinner except Sunday; Known for amazing special rolls – large selection – all $11-$15; Dirt cheap lunch specials; Bento Boxes as well; BYO; Wonder, friendly staff; Super casual – nothing fancy – but a clean, nice décor.
*Pintxo y Tapas: Spanish; Englewood; 47 Dean @ Palisade; 23/20/$49; 201-569-9999; Some of the best Tapas anywhere; Large selection of mouthwatering, authentic delicacies; All meals come with complimentary soup; Paellas are excellent; Plenty of hot a la carte items to pick; Best of all- the Sangria. Name changed from Tapas de Espana. Facelift has caused slight decline in quality. Portions huge. Paellas so-so. Endless Tapas to pick from including Grilled Calamari. 25+ main course entrees as well. https://englewoodtapas.com/
*Rose’s of Englewood: Lebanese; Englewood; 126 Engle St; 21/18/$43; 201-541-0020; Open daily for lunch & dinner; BYO; Parking difficult; Inexpensive lunch specials; Menu includes Frog Legs, Grilled Quail, Grilled Cornish Hen, numerous Kebab platters with lovely char-grilled skewers of flavorful meat; Over 40 different appetizers – all $6-$10 so you can order a bunch and sample Lebanese cuisine; Has other locations in Fair Lawn & Cliffside Park if you are a fan. http://roseslebaneserestaurants.com/;
*Sofia: Steakhouse; Englewood; 36 Engle St; 25/23/$62; 201-541-8530; www.sofiaenglewood.com; Formally Smoke Chophouse; Smoker’s room downstairs; Nightlife scene after it gets late – cool bar area; This is an ideal date spot – good looking crowd; Lunch & brunch served; Brunch features $5 cocktails; Raw bar and a half dozen steaks; Lots of seafood, pasta options as well; Huge wine list; Happy hour 3-6pm weekdays.
*Tani Sushi & Asian Grill: Japanese; Englewood; 44 E Palisade Av; 23/19/$38; 201-567-7888; www.taniasiangrill.com/; More of a Pan-Asian scene; Extremely date-friendly; Ultra cool décor, spacious, Manhattan feel; Endless menu of sushi, sashimi and special rolls; Try the crispy duck or Pad Thai; BYO; Large portions; Really a winner in an area in need of a trendy place. 201 Mag Best Japanese runner up. REAL shrimp dumplings. Giant menu.
*Café Italiano: Italian; Englewood Cliffs; 14 Sylvan Av @ Irving; 19/18/$38; 201-461-5041; www.cafeitaliano.net; Great outdoor dining on nice patio in summer; Friendly, neighborhood restaurant; Reasonable prices and reliable fare; Speedy service and large menu. Family feeling and well-made specials. They will take care of you with their drinks from well stocked bar, if you are a local or friendly. Lunch or dinner. Mixed reviews overall
*Cliffs Steakhouse: Steakhouse; Englewood Cliffs; 18 Sylvan Av; 22/16/$58; 201-944-0233; www.cliffssteakhouse.com; From the owners of next door’s Café Italiano, this is a service-focused restaurant with a great menu featuring lots of daily specials; Seafood shellfish appetizer is incredible but very pricy; Steaks and seafood come out on a very hot plate keeping everything warm; Manager will banter with you & regulars are treated extremely well; Try porterhouse for two. Sizzling bacon; Fresh Mozz; Smoked Salmon; Pasta Dishes.
*Grissini: Italian; Englewood Cliffs; 484 Sylvan Av @ Palisade; 19/22/$67; 201-568-3535; www.grissinirestaurant.com; Expensive but worth it- IF you get solid service; Huge menu with upscale Italian fare; Unique offerings plus classic standards; Try the Buffalo Mozz with Jersey Tomatoes followed by Linguine with whole lobster fra Diablo. Also a scene at night- people watching and great for a drink. Bring your expense account. Can have off Nights and locals heavily favored. Recent service reviews are harsh. Specials wildly overpriced.
*Davia: Italian; Fair Lawn; 6-09 Fair Lawn Av; 23/18/$35; 201-797-6767; http://daviarestaurant.com/; I love their menu; It is typical of a trattoria that serves the usual Italian classics but they have so much more as well; Even Beef Wellington and many seafood entrees; Pastas – you pick the type and the sauce with 12+ preparations to choose from; Everything well described; Maybe an older scene – better for a weekday; Have a full bar. Great place to bring the family or picky eaters.
Empire Hunan: Chinese; Fair Lawn; 444 Cedar Lane; 22/15/$28; 201-928-0370; http://www.empirehunannj.com/; 201 Mag runner up Best Chinese for 2013; One of the rare decent sit-down Chinese spots in Bergen; Serve Japanese food too (sushi as well) but Chinese is better; Lunch specials are all under $10 with tons of food; Salt & Pepper Shrimp; Peking Duck; Seafood Soup; Has Fair Lawn Location.
*Oceanos: Seafood; Fair Lawn; 2-27 Saddle River Rd; 25/22/$62; 201-796-0546; www.oceanosrestaurant.com; Just a wonderful, pleasant surprise; Affordable, and perfectly tasty Greek inspired seafood; Soft Shell Crabs in season are enormous; Homemade bread; Romantic courtyard in summer; Welcoming service; Try the Mediterranean spreads; Full Raw Bar; Huge selection of hot seafood entrees. Even a Rib Eye. Excellent, mature evening found here. Chilean Sea Bass, Grilled Calamari, Grilled Yellowfin Tuna.
*River Palm: Steakhouse; Fair Lawn; 41-11 Rt 4 W @ Saddle River Rd; 24/19/$58; 201-703-3500; www.riverpalm.com; One of the best known steakhouses in NJ; Sides are very inexpensive with many to choose from- as are the salads; Steaks are $27 – $40 on average; Also Lamb chops, Lobster, Shrimp, and chicken dishes. Expensive sushi- tons of rolls – in Edgewater & Mahwah locations; Fish selections as well…. Truly a massive menu for a steakhouse. They do it right. Each location has a different personality. 201 Mag 3-time winner Best Steakhouse.
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.
*Dong Bang Grill: Korean; Fort Lee; 1616 Palisade Av; 23/18/$42; 201-242-4485; www.dongbanggrill.com/; Excellent steaks and other Galbi (Korean BBQ); Sushi as well; Amazing short ribs; Miso soup is tasty; Two level location with a large menu of individual items besides BBQ; Great service & it rivals NYC’s Korean town. You will always find locals & Asians there – a great sign. Nicer interior than most. 201 Mag Best Korean. Has bar.
Franco’s Metro: Italian; Fort Lee; 1475 Bergen Blvd; 22/15/$35; 201-461-6651; www.francosmetro.com; Been around for 40+ years; Local classic Italian standby; Brick over pizzas; Early bird specials; Nothing fancy and more of a casual neighborhood local spot; Food prepared with care; The pizza and Pork braciole over pappardelle are amazing; Has an endless menu; Full bar with lots of wines to pick from. Amazing salads. Super fresh. Cold seafood platter for two just $24.
*Gam Mee Ok: Korean; Fort Lee; 485 Main St; 22/15/$29; 201-242-1333; Noted for outstanding Kimchi; Large Galbi menu of BBQ meats; Considered to have the best Ox Tail soup in the state (Sul Long Tang); Beef short ribs and soups are super tasty. Service friend and environment welcoming. Open 24/7; Beer & wine served; Nice setting for the genre. Korean comfort food. www.yelp.com/biz/gam-mee-ok-restaurant-fort-lee
Hiura: Japanese; Fort Lee; 400B Main St @ Anderson; 25/15/$44; 201-346-0110; Highest quality sushi and sashimi; BYO; Super friendly chef; More suited for Omakase and sushi in general; Great Udon soup; Sit at a table and order sushi sampler for the best deal; Rolls served as well. Super fresh. Never worse than a good experience here. Chef brings traditional Japanese experience to his Fort Lee cliental. Very small place like Fuki Sushi. Not a place for special rolls. Otherwise a huge hit.
Menya Sandaime: Ramen; Fort Lee; 1638 Parker Av; 25/14/$16; 201-482-4141; http://menyasandaime.com/; The go-to place for incredible Ramen Soup. Open daily for lunch and dinner but probably best suited for lunch – or a quick meal on the go; Great place to get introduced to this fabulous dish. BYO. Gyoza and a couple apps but basically just ramen.
Prime and Beyond: Steakhouse; Fort Lee; 501 Main St; 25/12/$55; 201-461-0033; www.primeandbeyond.com; Very small, casual Korean-owned steakhouse; They use the highest quality meats; BYO- with $5 fee; It is a small menu featuring Porterhouse, T-Bone, Filet Mignon & Ribeye; Apps include Kimchi and other Korean dishes; Double Smoked Bacon app; Some salads, Various Vegies. There is one daily pasta dish and no fish dishes. You come here for Meat! No Tips accepted! Oxtail Soup for lunch served.
Santorini Taverna: Greek; Fort Lee; 2020 Central Rd @ Main; 22/18/$39; 201-947-2055; www.santorini-taverna.com; About 15 tables, nice blue painted walls – Greek feel; Has nice outdoor area; Large menu of Greek classics; Lots of grilled items available including lamb, and various whole fish; Full bar and outdoor patio in warmer months; More casual dishes at lunch; Upscale quality and authentic. Very large menu including the classics. Grilled Calamari.
So Kong Dong: Korean; Fort Lee; 130 Main St; 24/14/$34; 201-242-0026; Just incredibly tasty beef ribs; Endless varieties of tofu soup; Lunch and dinner served daily; They specialize in Tofu Stew and soups; In addition, the Dumplings are delicious; The Ribs are the stand-out, however. Not a big menu…. Prepare for soup and ribs if you come here. BYO www.yelp.com/biz/so-kong-dong-fort-lee
Soup Dumplings Plus: Chinese; Fort Lee; 1550 Lemoine Av; 24/14/$16; 201-944-0901; http://soupdumplingplus.com/; Incredibly inexpensive; Soup Dumplings are the stand-out of course for about $6 an order! Full service Chinese options as well; Lunch specials with a drink for under $10. Decent setting overall – good service; I’d suggest order 4-5 things for a party of 2 so you have lots of leftovers.
*Chef’s Table: French; Franklin Lakes; 754 Franklin Av; 26/20/$52; 201-891-6644; http://www.tctnj.com/; Bistro feel run by charming owners; BYO policy; Reserve a week early for this always popular spot; Rack of lamb unreal; Crepes Suzette the top dessert choice; Sizable selection of items- all created with care. Venison, duck. Smallish place in a strip mall; Crispy duck orange; Such a cute spot. Closed Mondays; Entrees about $32, apps are $10. Yellowfin Tuna.