Although it lacks the publicity and downtown appeal that Central Jersey foodie towns such as New Brunswick and Somerville possess, Hillsborough, which has welcomed six new restaurants this year, is slowly catching up to its neighbors.
“For Hillsborough, restaurants are spread throughout town, so some people may not think of Hillsborough as a place to go out to eat,” said David Kois, business advocate for Hillsborough Township. “But, we are seeing more restaurants locate here that are attracting people from outside of town to check Hillsborough out.”
Today in Hillsborough, there are 14 American, 17 Italian, nine Asian, three Indian, two Mexican, one Caribbean and one Middle Eastern restaurants, totaling 47. According to Kois, the increase in the variety of cuisine available in the township is because of the changing population and changing food tastes of consumers as people watch and read about food from around the world.
Orest Levytskyy and Sophia Levytska of East Millstone opened Café Brio at 220 Triangle Road, Suite 225, in Hillsborough in September. It features a relaxing and modern atmosphere, high-quality and sustainably grown specialty coffee and fresh, artisanal treats.
The restaurant also includes preserved space for artists, divided into a gallery and stage, and Levytskyy said they created the space with the intent to make their customers feel invited, relaxed and energized every time they come in, with an open layout with bright colors, natural wood, live plants and complementing lights.
“Hillsborough has a wonderful community that supports small business,” said Levytskyy. “We wanted to add a place with relaxing and modern atmosphere, specialty coffee and artisanal treats — something we thought Hillsborough was missing and deserved.”
Levytskyy said that he thinks the evolution of Hillsborough’s food scene will be fueled by the growing community and demand for different tastes, driven by small businesses that offer specialty and quality food.
Al Rashidy also opened a restaurant in Hillsborough this year. On Oct. 1, his second location of the Falafel House — the first launched in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, five years ago — opened in the township because he felt the community was missing Mediterranean cuisine.
Rashidy is confident that the Falafel House, which features street food from Egypt, Greece and other countries utilizing grass-fed meats and organic salads at an affordable price, will be successful in Hillsborough because of its type of cuisine and low price point.
“I wanted to open a place where instead of spending $9 at McDonald’s, customers can spend $10 here,” he said. “If my own kids eat here, then you know I trust it.”
Rashidy said that he thinks Hillsborough’s food scene is changing, albeit slowly, since restaurant owners are scared because the township doesn’t receive much foot traffic and new businesses will need to come in to continue to improve the local restaurant industry.
“Hillsborough needs more guts from other businesses to come in, plus the town itself can be scary regarding the permits and the headaches,” he said. “I think if you get it together right, though, then your restaurant will make it in Hillsborough.”
Where: 220 Triangle Road, Suite 225, Hillsborough
Contact: cafebrionj.com, 908-292-4616
The Falafel House
Where: 101-201 Towne Centre Drive, Hillsborough
Contact: facebook.com/The-Falafel-House-1809590295969511/, 908-262-2129