You’ll discover the best selections of food in New Jersey; from Steakhouses and Seafood to Italian and American restaurants, including sports bars & more, the best are listed below. Top highlights feature recommendations from our most popular categories; you’ll discover the complete restaurant directory further down.
From inexpensive neighborhood cafes to high-end temples recognized nationally, New Jersey’s restaurants reflect its reputation as one of the nation’s most culturally and socioeconomically diverse states. So, brush off any assumption that it’s all eateries and pizza parlors—though they’re here and excellent. New Jersey is a feasting paradise.
1. Common Lot
Few restaurants in the state can indeed be said to have no ties to New Jersey. Often, the proprietor is a local, or the head chef has worked for some of the best restaurants in the area. Common Lot in Millburn is owned by Australian-born Chef Ehren Ryan and her Austrian-born husband, who are not afraid to venture outside the tri-state area for their patrons. While Chef Ryan has said that pasta entrees have crossed his mind, they are not currently on the menu at Common Lot. Common Lot’s proprietor has traveled the world, received classical training, and developed a varied palate, all of which are reflected in the restaurant’s cuisine.
Compared to other New Jersey restaurants, Common Lot is a remarkable establishment with many innovative and forward-thinking variations of traditional dishes. Diners come to enjoy a creative and diversified meal that is prepared with fresh ingredients sourced locally and locally sourced wherever possible. The ambiance is beautiful and industrial chic. The dishes are original, and they are ready skillfully with ingredients that are gathered locally and fresh from farms. The menu is available in three different sizes. “Smalls to Share” refers to appetizer-sized servings, “Big” refers to traditional-sized meals, and “Shared Mains for Two” refers to large portions of food, typically meats, that are designed to be shared between two people.
Elements’ new location at 66 Witherspoon St. offer diners a more engaging, social, and individual experience. At elements, diners may feel at one with the cook thanks to the open kitchen and the small number of tables (9 total). Chef Anderson is able to put his stamp on each artfully presented meal thanks to the restaurant’s small size (just 28 seats), allowing the staff to fulfil their promise of providing visitors with elevated, unrivalled service.
This high-end, upscale restaurant breaks the mold with its exceptional approach to food preparation and its unconventional approach to customer care. The renowned chef Scot Anderson prepares a New American meal with Japanese and Asian influences. The menu is updated daily to offer the freshest ingredients possible, sourced from farmers and producers in the surrounding area. These components utilize innovative, up-to-date methods to extract the most authentic flavors possible. Popular among customers who are interested in trying something new and non-traditional at their restaurant, with a cuisine that is imaginative and inventive, employing fresh farm-to-table ingredients in an elegant and stylish atmosphere.
3. Cafe Matisse
Cafe Matisse offers a sophisticated fine dining experience with all the trimmings except a bar. It’s perfect for a small, romantic celebration or another special event. This renovated building, once a firehouse for horses and buggy, has been attractively decorated in the style of French artist Henri Matisse. Its interior is tastefully decorated with soft lighting, blown Murano glass chandeliers, luxurious chairs, and vibrantly colored walls adorned with Matisse’s artwork. There is an air of elegance and romanticism throughout the room.
Peter Loria, owner and executive chef has mastered the art of creating a seasonal grazing menu (or “Matisse Plates”) that is both inventive and refined. The dishes are delicious and use fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients in their preparation. You can order from a four-course Seasonal Tasting Menu at this restaurant for a set charge. Don’t worry about a thing; kick back and enjoy the meal. Feel completely contented after you leave.
Lorena’s, a cozy French bistro in the middle of Maplewood, is a top choice if you’re craving French food. This venue is perfect for intimate celebrations between two people or a small group of friends. Customers aged 55 and up comprise a sizable portion of the restaurant’s clientele.
Coowner/chef Humberto Campos Jr. and co-owner/hostess Lorena Perez have put the finishing touches on a restaurant that serves up a top-notch fare and friendly service without sacrificing style. Located in a nondescript storefront, the restaurant’s two meager dining rooms emit a bland, unremarkable vibe and can accommodate a total of 52 customers. The ceiling is dated acoustic tiles; the walls are toned beige and decorated with mirrors, impressionist prints, and decorative plates. White linens are spread out evenly over the tables. Customers frequent Lorena’s because of the excellent French food and the attentive service the restaurant’s well-trained wait staff.
5. Bernards Inn Restaurant
Millennials who like to get together with friends or family over drinks and cuisine love The Bernards Inn, located in a refurbished, historic hotel from 1907. In addition to the main dining room, a cozy wine vault can seat up to 50 guests. The bar has been given a more relaxed feel with the installation of televisions so customers can watch the game. The Terrace is open for al fresco eating throughout the warmer weather months.
Chef Brian Fuller, formerly Sous Chef at Bernards Inn, has been promoted to Executive Chef as part of the revamped and rebranded kitchen. Chef Fuller’s cuisine tends toward lighter fare, occasionally including fresh farm-to-table items from nearby farms. Although there aren’t many fancy main courses to choose from, the bar menu has plenty of tasty appetizers and small plates. The public dining rooms of Bernards Inn offer the food of a higher quality than what is typically served in banquet halls, despite the hotel’s reputation as a wedding and business event location.
Regarding Italian food in northern New Jersey, Fascino is among the best. Fine dining with a “chef-inspired” twist. Includes everything you’d expect from a high-end eatery, with the exception of a bartender. The talented pastry chef in the family, Chef Ryan DePersio’s mother, Cynthia, and the rest of the kitchen staff all work together to provide a seamless and elegant dining experience. The cuisine is modern Italian, with a focus on the flavors of northern Italy.
The decor is appealing and cozy despite being vintage; the subdued lighting brings out the colors of burgundy, white, and gold. Booths of brass and terra cotta hues are crowded around the walls, while mahogany chairs fill the tables. The owner’s images of daily life in Italy serve as inspiration for the artwork adorning the walls. Cloths have been laid out for the tables.Daily specials feature freshly prepared pasta tossed with a rotating selection of sauces and served in oversized white bowls. A la carte, a five-course Chef’s Tasting, and a four-course Vegetarian Tasting are all available.
Palazzo, a Montclair staple, can be found next to the Wellmont Theatre. New York Restaurant School alumnus and current owner John Giglio got his start in the kitchen at the legendary Fraunces Tavern in New York. Chef Giglio prepares a variety of fresh pasta, sauces, and desserts from scratch. Even though there aren’t many options on the regular menu, the restaurant makes up for it with a wide variety of delicious, made-from-scratch specials daily.
The dining area of the Palazzo is large, comfortably seating 100 guests. The walls are painted a soothing blue and gold, and works of art are on display. The trim and flooring are made of natural wood, and the artwork and tables are covered in linen. The dining room’s focal point is the baby grand piano. Sit at a table by the window and observe the passers-by on Fullerton Ave. When the weather is nice, dine in one of the restaurant’s 16 seats.
8. The Grand Café
The Grand Cafe is a townhouse converted into a sophisticated French restaurant that caters to those searching for an “old world” dining experience and a taste of France for that special occasion.The typical diner is a well-heeled, middle-aged professional or retiree who appreciates and is willing to pay for a high level of service. The restaurant is one of the few of its kind left, serving exquisitely prepared dishes in an elegant setting with service to match. Traditional dining rooms may be found on the ground floor, while more festive spaces can be found on the second and third floors. Wood paneling, a working fireplace, and stained glass windows contribute to the room’s sophisticated atmosphere.
Grand Allee’s patio is the perfect place to enjoy a meal during the warmer months. It’s a vast, colorful patio filled with flowers of all shapes and sizes. Downstairs is a beautiful bar with live piano music and a pub-like atmosphere. A big, ornate chandelier hangs in the formal main dining room, featuring Renoir paintings on the walls. Linen linens in soft pink for the table settings.
The restaurant is enormous, with ample light globes suspended over the downstairs bar and dining area, which features a magnificent Carrera marble-topped bar and an art deco atmosphere. There is an open kitchen in the back that everyone can see and a vast wine vault that goes from floor to ceiling, both of which contribute to the lively atmosphere. Three stories of outside space feature seating, a kitchen, a fireplace, and a bar.
The well-executed menu features primarily French dishes, such as oysters, seafood, meats, and those cooked on a wood-burning barbecue. The restaurant’s small plate and appetizer options contribute to the enjoyable social experience enjoyed by large parties. There is a special vegetarian/vegan menu for those who choose it.Chef Muller’s approach to cooking is meticulously planned to highlight rather than overpower the natural flavors of seasonal foods. Leave some room for the delicious desserts prepared by pastry chef Melissa Rodriguez to complement Chef Muller’s fantastic savory entrees.
10. Scarborough Fair
Scarborough Fair is an endearingly rustic and romantic restaurant that prides itself on using fresh, locally produced ingredients in its cuisine.The renovated building from the 1800s has a beautiful façade with lights and a brick walkway that slopes up to the front door. In 2020, after a lengthy period of refurbishment and expansion, the restaurant reopened in February with a larger upper-level bar and more eating space.
On the other hand, the new dining room lacks the warm, rustic, and romantic vibe of the old one and the nooks in the basement. Slate floors and exposed brick walls make for terrible acoustics, especially if you’re sitting near the bar. Private, softly lit dining alcoves on the lower floors provide the ambiance of a rustic country ski lodge, making for an exceptionally romantic experience. Brick, wood, glass, a high ceiling, and brick steps lead to the secluded alcoves and the upper-level main dining room, all of which contribute to the restaurant’s enticing, rustic atmosphere.
As one of the best Sicilian-influenced restaurants in South Jersey, Zeppoli may be found in a modest Collingswood storefront. Chef Joey Baldino, whose Sicilian and Italian parents raised him in South Philadelphia’s Italian neighborhood, has opened a successful restaurant in New Jersey. His Sicilian culinary approach was influenced by his time spent in Sicily working and cooking on the farm of renowned Sicilian chef Anna Tasca Lanza and by his maternal grandparents’ bar/restaurant in South Philadelphia.
The ambiance in his dining room, which seats 35 people, is reminiscent of the South of Italy. The atmosphere is similar to that of a casual restaurant in Sicily or Southern Italy. Salads, homemade pasta, fresh fish, and meats are all staples of Chef Baldino’s straightforward but delicious Sicilian cuisine, which emphasizes using high-quality, locally sourced products. Large quantities of red sauce (gravy) foods are not provided here. Zeppoli does not cover up the flavor of its fresh ingredients with a lot of heavy sauces. Many of the meals appear to be classics or traditional Italian fare, yet Chef Baldino’s preparations are anything but conventional or replicated. They use a novel combination of high-quality, recently-harvested products, and they’re brimming with imagination.
Hearthside is a unique BYOB in Collingswood that serves contemporary American cuisine prepared in a wood-fired kitchen and served in a rustic yet refined setting. Chef Dominic Piperno and his wife, Lindsay, are the proprietors of Hearthside. The menu features Asian, Mexican, and Italian small plates, medium plates, large plates, and giant format sharing platters. Several types of pasta, steaks, poultry, and seafood cooked in a wood-fired oven or on a grill, are on the menu.
The dangling smoke glass globes create an even cozier atmosphere. The noise level can be adjusted and soundproofed with the help of wooden beams hung in a triangle pattern from the ceiling. Brick and wood are incorporated into the decor, with windows to the ceiling.