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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5 beautiful churches in your backyard

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 8/7/17

New Jersey churches may not get the kind of press that churches found in places such as Italy or Spain my receive, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not notable.

New Jersey has tons of beautiful churches, many of them right in our Central Jersey backyards, that are worth a visit for those who can appreciate colorful stained glass windows, historic structures and breathtaking columns.

Religious or not, if you’re an architecture buff, check out these amazing churches that can only be found in the Garden State.

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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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Go back in time in Flemington with walking tour

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/25/17

Flemington, a borough which has a historic district that can boast that 60 percent of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, is a haven for history buffs.

And now, with the next Flemington Walking Tour set for Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m., anyone with an interest in learning more about the history of the borough can do so with a $5 suggested donation.

“Flemington is special because of its historic district and on the tour, one can see the changes in styles and building techniques over the span of hundreds of years,” said Patricia Millen, executive director of the Hunterdon County Historical Society, which is hosting the tour.

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How to spend your Lehigh Valley getaway

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/18/17

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pennsylvania – With our friends jet setting off to exotic locales, sometimes it can be frustrating to have a lack of funds or time to head out for a well-deserved vacation in the summer.

However, if you’re looking for a weekend — or even just a day — away, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, which is less than two hours from the homes of most Central Jerseyans, makes for a great getaway as its home to picturesque parks, locally sourced dining options, wineries and breweries, as well as many attractions for family fun including the Lehigh Valley Zoo, The Crayola Experience, Sands Bethlehem, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and more.

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It’s certainly no surprise that the area makes for an ideal getaway — the region receives 10.6 million day-trippers annually.

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Create traditional Japanese pottery at Somerville studio

SOMERVILLE – Raku, a 12th-century pottery-firing technique, may trace its origins to creating the wares for Japanese tea ceremonies, but you certainly don’t need to hop on a plane to try it yourself.

That’s because Country Squire Pottery, at 26 W. High St. in Somerville, can help you create the earthy tones and unique patterns that raku offers, a technique in which fire and smoke are used in an 1,800-degree raku kiln as a ceramic-firing process.

“I like raku because it’s a fast process that has instant gratification — in 30 minutes, you take your pot out of the kiln and you can make different effects with the post-firing production,” said Susan Amann, artist and founder of Country Squire Pottery.

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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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Red Bank film festival to showcase emerging indie filmmakers

Red Bank, a trendy and upscale hotspot on the Navesink River in Monmouth County, has always been known for its entertainment value. As the home of the Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater, the borough breathes the arts.

This is also why it has attracted the Indie Street Film Festival, which seeks to discover films and filmmakers who prove story is independent of budget, for the second year in the July 26 to 30 festival.

“There’s a really creative vibe in the town that has been growing,” said Jay Webb, co-founder of Indie Street and festival artistic director. “We try to take the vibe that’s already here and bring it to the forefront of the community to allow people to discuss films and the arts.”

The festival, which will feature more than 60 independently produced narrative, documentary and animated films, will also host panel discussions, Q&A’s with filmmakers and special events — with a true-to-Jersey twist.

The Indie Street Film Festival will be held July 26 to 30 in Red Bank. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Indie Street)

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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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