Food and Fare

Reviews and features of restaurants, bars, dishes and more.

Simply Jerk is Monroe culinary diamond in the rough

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 8/21/17

If you are one of the many people that call Monroe your home — at least from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at one of the township’s many corporate complexes — you’re probably aware that the local dining options are a bit lacking.

However, Simply Jerk Jamaican Grill, a quaint counter-serve eatery that can seat about 30 people in its colorful, tropical digs, is known as a roadside diamond in the rough with its authentic Jamaican cuisine run by the White family.

“It’s kind of a cultural wasteland here, and for many people, this is their first time having Jamaican food in the States,” said Rahsheid White, vice president of marketing and business development at Simply Jerk who lives in Howell and is son of owner Newell White and executive chef Eleith White, who live in Millstone.

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New Fanwood Grille revives the retro luncheonette

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 8/16/17

FANWOOD – John Mooney, a 20-year Fanwood resident, recently stumbled upon a 1979 article where the Courier News declared the Fanwood Corner Store as the heartbeat of the community.

He believes it — as a kid, he always appreciated a spin on a retro luncheonette counter seats.

“I always thought it was a shame that the Fanwood Corner Store had this lunch counter but it was never in operation,” said the restaurant public relations consultant, who also owns TapInto.com Scotch Plains-Fanwood. “When the Corner Store went out of business, I said to Paul Watterson, who owns Nick’s Pizza in Fanwood, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if someone opened a grill here?’ And he said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

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Hometown favorite Lory’s Lakeside gets a face lift

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 8/9/17

Visitors to Lory’s Lakeside, a warm, family-friendly restaurant featuring an “anytime menu” of American favorites, may relish in its lakefront charm – but will also be surprised to know the restaurant that once stood in its place offered zero lakefront views.

“I was looking for a restaurant to buy and I found this unbelievable property – an acre and a half on a lake that had been an eatery for 50 years,” said Todd Lory, owner and chef at Lory’s Lakeside, who also resides on the property. “When I walked into the restaurant formerly called Whalebones, though, I realized they were doing everything wrong – you couldn’t even see the lake.”

Lory scooped up the property 22 years ago and immediately changed and added items to the menu, renovated the interior, revamped the exterior, accentuated the lakefront views and also added bar-friendly elements such as a pool table.

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Roosterspin mixing LPs, Korean cuisine in New Brunswick

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/31/17

Most Americans with a picky palette would choose to shy away from traditional Korean fare such as kimchi, made with fermented cabbage; bulgogi, which are marinated slices of beef or pork; or even sushi, which features raw fish.

However, what if that kimchi was mixed with cheese in a french fry dipping sauce? Or if that bulgogi was on a burger with a red onion pickle and jalapeno mayo? Would you try sushi if it was filled with buffalo chicken?

This is the inspiration behind Mihae Cho’s Korean eatery Roosterspin, which opened its second location July 12 at 120 Albany St. in New Brunswick following the success of its Westfield location, which opened in 2014.

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Iconic upside-down pizza recipe is reborn in South Brunswick

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/5/17

If you grab a pie from the Original Thin Crust Pizza Company, which opened on Feb. 1 in the Dayton section of South Brunswick, you may have the vague feeling that you have tasted this pizza before.

That’s because you probably have.

The Original Thin Crust Pizza Company, owned and operated by Matt Verney of the Dayton section of South Brunswick, is bringing back the famous pizza that was once served at Pete’s Bar of Old Bridge from 1973 to 1987; the pie developed a cult-like following that spanned about 50 years.

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Passion and tradition reign at this hidden Italian eatery

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/28/17

If you sample the traditional Neapolitan-style Italian fare prepared by Joseph Gramaglia, head chef of Saly G’s Restaurant and Tavern, you’re bound to guess he has spent years in a culinary institute, training with top chefs and mentors.

And you wouldn’t be 100 percent wrong. Gramaglia, who is also the owner of the elegant Italian eatery at 169 Washington Valley Road in Warren tucked behind a strip mall, has been studying for years — alongside his mother and grandmother as he pored over cookbooks and cooking television.

“I read cookbooks seven days a week. I watch cooking shows every day of the week,” Gramaglia said. “I taught myself how to do this. I didn’t go to school for this — it’s straight passion.”

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Foodie’s dream tour coming to Natirar

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/20/17

PEAPACK-GLADSTONE – Natirar, a 500-acre property once owned by a former king of Morocco, is a not-so-hidden gem of Somerset County.

The area includes Ninety Acres, an award-winning restaurant, a gala event venue, a farm, a cooking school and lush green space in Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster.

And now, with the upcoming Epicurean Adventure at Ninety Acres at Natirar, which will feature a tour of the Farm at Natirar, an interactive cooking demo and tasting at the Ninety Acres Cooking School and a specially prepared lunch in the main dining room, visitors can see all that the property has to offer in one visit.

“Anyone who is interested in wellness, nature and sustainability would enjoy this kind of event,” said Michelle Mitterer, director of sales and marketing at Natirar. “We like to connect our visitors with the origin of food and educate them on the process behind the art of cooking.”

The front entrance of Ninety Acres, Natirar’s highly-acclaimed destination restaurant complex. ~ Courtesy of Alicia Savoly

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6 sizzling steak restaurants to take dad this Father’s Day

On summer evenings, we can usually count on seeing a devoted dad or two slaving away at the grill, meticulously cooking up some steaks, ribs, chicken or just some burgers and hot dogs.

With Father’s Day right around the corner on June 18, it’s time to bring dad indoors and let someone else do the grilling for him — by taking him to one of the many steakhouses in Central Jersey.

Throughout the region, there are tons of eateries specializing in juicy steak, with every cut from tenderloin to a T-bone. Read on to find out where you can take your dear dad out for his special day this weekend.

The wasabi-crusted filet mignon from Arirang. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Arirang)

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New N. Plainfield sports bar features fresh, quality fare

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/27/17

With a reputation for unhealthy, processed foods and dingy surroundings, families and couples tend to steer clear of sports bars.

However, Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar, which will hold its grand opening at 1250 Route 22 East in North Plainfield on Sunday at 11 a.m., is paving the way to show that sports bars don’t need to sacrifice their food quality to make way for those looking for a cold beer.

Arooga’s conscientious food options make it so that the bar and grill isn’t just for those looking to watch the game — it’s for everyone, including families looking to bring the kids or couples out for date night.

That’s because visitors to Arooga’s can eat assured that their meal isn’t prepared by factory workers. All of their menu items are house-made and feature antibiotic-free and cage-free chicken and eggs paired with five award-winning sauces as well as 75 gluten-free items — with price tags ranging from $8.99 to $17.99.

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Foodies dine countywide at Taste of Somerset

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/23/17

Somerset County certainly has its fair share of foodies – and they came out in flocks to check out all that the local culinary world has to offer at the 25th annual Taste of Somerset.

Held at the Palace at Somerset Park in the Somerset section of Franklin on Monday, May 22 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event benefited benefits the PeopleCare Center, a 33-year-old Bridgewater-based non-profit organization which provides a physical plant to house non-profit agencies and organizations at below-market cost.

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