New Jersey does a lot right and restaurants definitely fall into that category. Our dining scene is spectacular and we offer everything from vibrant diners to casual mom n’ pop joints and the most luxurious eateries you can imagine. Every one is special but some stand out for their beauty. The following twelve restaurants are gorgeous inside and out, so gorgeous that it would be impossible to rank them – they’re listed in no particular order.
1. Caffe Aldo Lamberti - 2011 Marlton Pike, Cherry Hill
This South Jersey staple serves up seafood and spectacular Italian cuisine. The exterior is striking and modern and the main dining room is bright and open, however, it's what is hidden underneath the main dining area that really makes this restaurant shine. Patrons will find three private wine cellars offering an intimate experience for two or twenty. The atmosphere and service can't be beat, guests can enjoy live music on Friday evenings, and diners rave about the grilled octopus.
2. Saddle River Inn - 2 Barnstable Court, Saddle River
This little red restaurant on the Saddle River overflows with rustic charm. You'll find wood beams, high ceilings and mood lighting that adds to the atmosphere. When it comes to cuisine, you'll find a contemporary French menu with a few surprises, like Szechuan noodles.
3. The Frog And The Peach - 29 Dennis Street, New Brunswick
This award-winning American restaurant offers several different dining areas, including their coveted garden room. The bar is beautifully designed and the brick walls and high ceilings are an added bonus. Well-known for their wine list, prices can be a bit hefty. However, they've got a prix fixe lunch deal that won't break the bank. For $25, enjoy soup or a salad, an entree or sandwich and a drink (wine) or dessert.
4. HAVEN - 2 Main Street, Edgewater
This New American eatery offers spectacular views of the Hudson River and Manhattan from both the main dining area and the patio. The interior is sleek, modern and open and the menu is innovative and robust. Choose from options including creamy lobster risotto croquettes, truffle mac n' cheese and warm apple-cinnamon churro cobbler.
5. Buddakan - 1 Oceanic Terrace, Atlantic City
This high-end Pan-Asian eatery can be found within Caesars hotel and casino. The space is visually stunning, anchored by a giant Buddha. The dining area is open, with chic private booths. Should you dine here, be sure to look up - the ceiling holds an enchanting surprise. The menu offers a diverse selection of modern Asian-fusion cuisine including edamame ravioli and tea-smoked spare ribs.
6. Stone House At Stirling Ridge - 50 Stirling Road, Warren
This beautiful stone building may be even more enchanting inside. Though, I'm quite partial to the patio, reflecting pool, fire pit and bocce courts outside. A popular wedding venue, it's difficult not to be enamored with this eatery. Set on ten acres in the hills of the Watchung Mountains, you're sure to appreciate the scenery. The focus is on fresh, farm-to-table dishes and you'll find everything from filet mignon to white truffle pizza on the menu here.
7. Cafe Matisse - 167 Park Avenue, Rutherford
This lovely little restaurant features an artsy interior and gorgeous garden patio. You'll find rich hues, subtle accents that shine and lighting fixtures that pull everything together. A top rated eatery, romance is in the air. As for what's on the menu, you'll enjoy creative dishes that vary by season. Your meal (they serve dinner only) will be prix fixe and will include a mix of sweet and savory dishes - the sirloin tacos with Asian BBQ sauce are a favorite.
8. Rat's Restaurant - 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton
This country-style French restaurant may be one of the most magical in the country. Located in a sculpture garden and surrounded by a lake, waterfall and beautiful bridges, the scenery is astounding. Definitely dine outside in the warmer weather, although the rustic interior is just as delightful. The food is top-notch but it's the atmosphere that draws crowds. The entire eatery is designed to make guests feel like they've stepped back in time to Claude Monet's beloved town of Giverny. It succeeds - you'll truly be transported. To top it all off, their brunch buffet is one of the best in New Jersey.
9. The Blue Rose Inn - 653 Washington Street, Cape May
Housed in a gorgeous Victorian inn, this restaurant is just blocks from the beach - you can smell the salty sea air! You'll enjoy the food even more than the breeze, with delectable deserts, a bountiful brunch and lunch and dinner options including seared steak tartare and Narragansett Bay mussels.
10. Ninety Acres - 2 Main Street, Peapack & Gladstone
Located on the breathtaking 90-acre Natirar Estate, you'll find farm fresh food here - there's actually a farm on the grounds. Because much of the food is sourced straight from the farm, you can expect the finest quality local cuisine. The menu consists of innovative small plates and contemporary selections, carefully crafted and combined to create the perfect prix fixe meal. Organic and sustainable ingredients are used whenever possible, including drinks infused with herbs from their garden.
11. Grain House Restaurant - 225 Highway 202, Basking Ridge
This rustic restaurant has heaps of historic charm... The exposed wood beams definitely add to the ambiance. You'll find a full bar here that was voted one of the coziest spots for drinks in New Jersey. They place an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and even have an organic garden outside. Visit when the weather gets a bit cooler and dine on delectable American cuisine, fireside.
12. Braddock's Tavern - 390 S Main Street, Medford
Braddock's can be anything you want it to be, with several banquet rooms to accommodate any need. They also offer daily dining and a picturesque porch that's heated and air conditioned, as the weather demands. The bar offers mouthwatering cocktails like the blood orange margarita and the happy hour appetizer deals will make both your wallet and your taste buds happy.
Of course, these twelve restaurants are only just the start. New Jersey is home to dozens more magnificent eateries, many of which I’ve covered in the past. The Walpack Inn is overflowing with rustic charm and offers a greenhouse dining room with magnificent views. Learn more about it
here. Jockey Hollow offers several different dining experiences, each wonderful. Learn more here. The Scarborough Inn is another favorite, with private dining booths unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Check that out here. What New Jersey restaurant do you find to be the most beautiful?