Where To Go When…

by Michael Scivoli

Congratulations. You’ve made it this far. That must mean you like to eat. Isn’t it obvious by now that we’re all food obsessed? We think about food all day. We even have impromptu photoshoots with it. You know what’s wrong with us? Nothing. Food is amazing. Great. I’m glad we got that out of the way. Hudson County is packed with both legendary and progessive restaurant options alike. Picking the spot of the night isn’t always simple; we want to go everywhere, every day. It’s an emotional decision. There are variables. Sometimes we choose a spot because we’re feeling down. Sometimes we’re celebrating an occasion. Sometimes we say f*ck it and get a third order of chicken and waffle tacos at Gringo’s because it’s Tuesday—I don’t make the rules, I just follow my gut. So how are you feeling? Who’s in town? How’s your love life? Let’s use that to figure out where we’re going to eat today. And if you’re just here for the pictures that’s cool, too.

…you want bar food but your friends are vegan.

Pet Shop | Jersey City
You’ve put off this dinner for a while. Maybe you made up some BS excuse about Mercury being in retrograde. You love the pub life but your friends’ zealous diet doesn’t quite fit the atmosphere of beer, burgers and wings. Or maybe you’re the one with the environmentally-conscious diet. And that’s OK, too. Good vegan food takes some creativity, and no one does that better than Pet Shop. There aren’t many (any) places that have the courage to pull off a “sausage” and peppers hero using smoked seitan, or cauliflower buffalo “wings” and still have a badass pub vibe.

Photo by Peter Bonacci

…a hookup is becoming a thing.

Cellar 335 | Jersey City
You said this was just a fling; it wouldn’t get serious. Well, it’s too late. She introduced you to her friends. And damn it, he remembered your roommate’s cat’s name from your epic rant the first time you met (yeah, you probably shouldn’t have said that, but at least he’s listening). Things are escalating. You don’t have to give him your extra key fob just yet, but you should totally start sharing oversized tiki cocktails at Cellar 335. It has a hip, original ambience few spots in Hudson County (and New Jersey) possess. So be daring. Order some Cellar fries and avocado fried rice to share. Just make sure you use two forks because, remember, you’re not quite there yet.

Photo by Peter Bonacci

…you have seasonal depression.

Ani Ramen | Jersey City
OK, maybe it’s not that serious. The cold of winter just stings a bit more in your 30s than it did in your 20s. Don’t complain. Eat more ramen. And it would be contrarian of anyone to suggest Ani Ramen isn’t the place to do it. I never thought that at this stage in life the first thing I would think of when the temperature hits below freezing is Berkshire pork bone broth, but here we are. As if the bowls and monthly Soul of Sake events weren’t enough to cure the frostbite blues, Ani Ramen has recently opened its very own glorious sushi speakeasy, Sushi by Bou. That’s right, try being depressed with a bowl of ramen, Japanese whisky and a 12-course sushi tasting menu.

…you want dinner to feel like going out.

VENTANAS at The Modern | Fort Lee
I get it. The work week is over. You want to seize this opportunity to blow off some steam. But after that commute home, the last thing you want to do is head back across the river. On the same note, your inner foodie wants to let loose, too. For that, prescribe a Friday night out at VENTANAS at The Modern. You’ll start off with Chef David Burke’s eclectic menu and as the night draws on (and the DJ takes a few risks), the space takes on new life and high energy.

…surprise, your parents are in town.

Mathews Food and Drink | Jersey City
You didn’t think they were going to trek all the way up from Monmouth County, but it’s happening this time. You’re going to want to take them somewhere that’s hip but also says that your palate consists of more than just take-out from Taqueria. For that, Mathews Food and Drink is the ultimate choice. First, its location at the corner of Bay and Grove is simply unmatched. Second, there’s something for everyone. Whether mom’s adventurous and digs the campanelle pasta with pancetta pumpkin cream, or dad keeps it simple with a roasted half chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Photo by Peter Bonacci

…you want to make a big deal about brunch.

Halifax | Hoboken
You’re that person. You live for those #brunchtime moments and mimosas. But you also want your food to be delightful and Instagram-worthy. By now, it’s no secret that Halifax tucked inside the W Hoboken is the place to make brunch the biggest deal ever. The massive space filled with white oak tables and walls cloaked in moss makes for a whimsical dining experience, alongside their mixed menu of land and sea. So do you. Take that picture outside on the waterfront. Snap a shot of your smoked salmon flatbread. Everyone’s doing it.

Photo by Peter Bonacci

…you want coffee and tea to feel special.

Simply Chai | Hoboken
Sure, good company and conversation transcends even the most monotonous Starbucks. But why not step up your game? Take a risk. Order a dosa waffle (or five) in the middle of the day. Simply Chai is a business built from passion—a space meant to truly “give you a break” as they like to say. It’s vibrant space features some natural wood juxtaposed with colorful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. And news flash, their authentic chai tea is really, really good. With names like Magic Masala, nothing makes coffee and tea feel more special than Simply Chai. I mean, they have someone with the title of dosa waffle master for Christ’s sake.

Photo by Peter Bonacci

…you want to broaden your pizza horizons.

Low Fidelity | Jersey City
From the best Neapolitan pie in town, to that drunk slice from the place you can’t remember—you think you’ve had all the pizza. You haven’t. Enter Low Fidelity’s take on Detroit-style in The Heights. This local bar might be known for its chill vibe, but Lo-Fi’s picture-perfect rectangular pies have all the makings of a #eeeeeats post. Get right to business here, order the Motor City—with cured and smoked pepperoni and hot honey drizzle. Afterwards, get a little adventurous with some fermented pineapple (yes, I said it). The El Pastorizza will change the way you feel about the forbidden fruit alongside al pastor-style pork, avocado and salted onions. Come for the pizza. Stay for the atmosphere.

…you’re with someone who is cooler than you.

Frankie | Jersey City
We all have that friend. You know the one—nitpicking every food suggestion you make because they lived in Williamsburg for five and a half months that one time. They’re the coolest, aren’t they? Not anymore. Frankie is the coolest kid in town. Since bursting onto the JC scene just two years ago, the Aussie-inspired restaurant on Grove St. has been turning heads with its natural wine list and electric Art Deco decor. It’s one of the few places you’ll almost always end up buying a bottle at.

…you’re ready to say f*ck it to your 2020 diet.

Fiore’s | Hoboken
You’ve had enough. Salads be damned. Three weeks into 2020 and get fit, you’ll lose it if you see another lettuce wrap or spin bike. So f*ck it. What you really need is a colossal Italian sandwich, specifically one of the fresh mozz, prosciutto and roasted red peppers variety. In business for over 100 years, there’s no better place to fall off the wagon than Fiore’s in Hoboken. Come hungry and expect to wait if it’s peak hours!

About the Author/s

All posts

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.

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