Over the course of a month, New Jersey Digest Editors do a lot of eating. Each month, we like to round up some of our favorite bites and share them with you. From pan-roasted duck breast to pepperoni-stuffed scones, these are the best things we ate in January.
Lamb and Beef Shawarma – Talula’s
550 Cookman Ave #108, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Talula’s is more commonly known for its pizza—which tends to make appearances on lists of the best pizza in NJ. However, beyond fast-fired pizzas, topped with the likes of spicy salami and honey, is a menu rife with many options that might seem daring for a pizzeria. For Talula’s, though, it’s par for the course. This lamb and beef shawarma came with flavorful meat, plenty of dill, jammy peppers and tomatoes and a healthy squirt of yogurt sauce—all packed into a freshly baked pita. We’ll remember this one for a while.
Roasted Cabbage – South + Pine
90 South St, Morristown, NJ 07960
Anyone who has dined at Morristown’s South + Pine before knows that Chef/Owner Leia Gaccione knows her way around a vegetable entree. This roasted cabbage was sweet, with caramelized and crispy edges. The hearty vegetable came atop a bed of cauliflower farro and lathered in toasted hazelnuts and gruyere fondue. A dish unlike anything we’ve had before, but that’s what South + Pine is all about.
Pepperoni Scone – Pie Girl
117 W Ward St, Hightstown, NJ 08520
Baker Chelsea Frost’s Hightstown pie shop dishes out some next-level desserts that keeps patrons coming back again and again. Pie Girl is so popular that if you don’t get there early enough, they might just be sold out of pie—which is exactly what happened to us last visit. Fret not, though, Frost has some other goodies up her sleeve. This pepperoni scone was sweet and savory, with nuggets of diced pepperoni scattered throughout the buttery interior. It’s proof that Pie Girl goes well beyond the name. Any of Frost’s creations—savory or sweet—are bound to hook you.
Hamachi Crudo – At Home
Food + Drink Editor Peter Candia goes out to eat a lot, but he cooks at home just as much, if not more. It’s his favorite thing to do. Inspired by the flavors of winter, Candia set out to make a hamachi crudo. He paired slices of the fish with cara cara orange juice (and segments), torn mint, Calabrian chili, toasted almond, saffron fleur de sel and a healthy glug of Olio Fresco from Marcelli Formaggi. It was vibrant, spicy and complex—the perfect crudo complement the cold and dreary weather outside. “It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever made,” says Candia, but we think he’s being hyperbolic.
Taco Duo – Taqueria La Casita
314 W Webster Ave, Roselle Park, NJ 07204
On a constant quest to find some of the best tacos in NJ, these certainly stand out. Marinated pork is cooked upright on a roasting spit known as a trombo to make these al pastor tacos. For the other variety, beef rib meat is seasoned liberally and grilled, with pieces of bone-in ribs as complements on the side. Each meat is loaded into fresh corn tortillas and showered with plenty of cilantro and onion. A trio of salsas comes with every order, allowing you to customize your taco journey as you see fit. Run, don’t walk for these.
Duck With Cherry – Clemmy’s
290 US-9, Waretown, NJ 08758
Clemmy’s should probably be on your radar if it isn’t already. The lagoon town BYOB is Chef Allen Walski’s love letter to New American dining—using only the best ingredients he can get his hands on. This Long Island duck breast comes perfectly seared—with an unctuous rendered skin and warm, red interior. To sing harmonies is a tart cherry gastrique, smoked onion soubise and creamy polenta. This hit all the notes of what we are looking for in a dish and it’s just the beginning of what Clemmy’s has to offer.
Sausage Katsu Biscuit – The Windough By B+D
110 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042
Montclair’s Brick + Dough dishes out hundreds of cleverly-topped pizzas each night. They have come to be known for their creative approach to artisanal, fast-fired pizza—throwing the typical limitations of Neapolitan pizza out the window. Speaking of, B+D does a pop-up every Saturday called The Windough, where they sell biscuit sandwiches, homemade poptarts, coffee and more. This buttermilk sesame biscuit came loaded with a panko-breaded sausage patty, fried egg, American cheese and a togarashi-spiced maple syrup. It was as ridiculously good as you’d expect it to be. Need we say more?
House Salad – Nettie’s House of Spaghetti
5119 Asbury Ave, Tinton Falls, NJ 07753
Ask Editor Peter Candia where he wants to eat on any given night and he’ll probably give you five answers—one of which is always Nettie’s. It’s not the handmade pasta, the fried meatballs or the perfectly executed cocktail list that keeps him coming back (though none of these things hurt), but instead, the house salad. Crisp iceberg lettuce is dressed with red wine vinegar, olives, roasted red peppers, sesame croutons and the star of the show: a house-made giardiniera. For just $2, you can add a shower of 24-month Parmigiano shavings (you can also add mortadella, ham and salami). It’s cold, crisp, bright and complex—each and every time, it leaves our jaws on the floor.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.
Michael is the Editor-in-Chief of New Jersey Digest, COO of X Factor Media, and an avid writer. Growing up in Bergen County, he discovered his passion for words while in Friday detention. Michael loves kayaking, a fat glass of Nebbiolo, and over-editing.