The Digest Magazine The Digest is a New Jersey Magazine featuring local restaurants, events, happy hours & deals in Hoboken, Jersey City, Red Bank, Hudson & Monmouth County, NJ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 17:05:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An Inside Look at Sirenetta in Hoboken Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:50:23 +0000 Sirenetta Seafood & Raw Bar has been open in Hoboken for almost three weeks…

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Sirenetta Seafood & Raw Bar has been open in Hoboken for almost three weeks now and is already proving to the local community that you don’t need to be down the Shore, in the Hamptons or at a crab shack somewhere to enjoy quality seafood. Its fast success is an exciting preview of the culinary and hospitality excellence to come in the Mile Square City

Sirenetta was created as the coastal spinoff of its sister restaurant, Sorellina Italian Kitchen and Bar, which is located right across the street. The goal of Sorellina, which means “little sister” in Italian, was to invite guests to celebrate Italy’s vibrant culinary culture. With Sirenetta, translating to “little mermaid” in Italian, the goal is to offer that same level of hospitality and cultural introduction, but in a different setting. 

“After a successful four years at Sorellina, I started looking at spaces for my next location, and with a vacant old bar across the street, it seemed like the perfect fit,” explained owner Gabi Lombardi. “As soon as I started the design process, I envisioned a large, curved raw bar as a main focal point. I didn’t want it to be a classic nautical-themed seafood restaurant, but rather a more contemporary and trendy vibe to cater to the uptown-Hoboken crowd.”

sirenetta hoboken

Photo by Susan Teplinsky / @susanteplinskyphotography

She succeeded in that aspect. As you walk in, you feel as if you were relocated across the river to NYC. The beautiful bar showcases their rotating selection of East and West Coast oysters, tiger prawns, king crab legs, littleneck clams, smoked mussels and more. But when the food arrives, you’ll be transported to Southern Italy through the quality and preparation of the seafood. My recent visit made me nostalgic for the time I studied abroad.

The Road to Opening

It’s taken a full year for Lombardi to see her second project come to life, mostly due to the chain of events that took place this year. She bought the space (previously occupied by Maxwell’s Tavern) in October of last year, and they were mid-renovation with an original target date of May 2020. Unfortunately with the shutdown, it was postponed. 

Even though restaurants are allowed to have indoor seating again, it’s devastating for Lombardi to see her newly renovated space only be enjoyed by 25 percent capacity. However, she’s grateful she can have diners at all. 

Luckily, Sirenetta’s design and open concept makes people more comfortable to sit inside since the restaurant’s windows wrap around the exterior and open from the ceiling to the table. They’ve already planned to add additional outdoor seating when the warmer weather returns in 2021. 

sirenetta opens in hoboken

Photo by Susan Teplinsky / @susanteplinskyphotography

What to Expect at Sirenetta in Hoboken

The Starters

I usually rely on shrimp for my shellfish fix, but that has changed after trying Sirenetta’s king crab legs. The legs came to the table ready to be devoured and the meat separated effortlessly from the shell. I was so stunned to experience that type of seafood quality, especially at the beginning of October, that I had to ask about her supplier. Lombardi said that they’re located in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

It isn’t just that Sirenetta is able to provide the freshest seafood in and around Hoboken, they’ve taken the menu to another culinary level by accentuating meals with a Prosecco Mignonette and a Calabrian chili cocktail sauce. Each does its own part and dresses the seafood perfectly.

Photo by Krista Stucchio / @kstucchiophoto

The Mains

Also featured on their menu is a selection of their famous homemade pasta. (This is always the way to my heart when dining out.) Their most popular dish is the Lobster Rigatoni All’Amatriciana, packed full of lobster meat with a spicy kick. It definitely won my vote.

Another ingredient I love to see on any menu is squid ink because every place prepares it differently. Trust me, if you’re a squid ink fanatic, then go test Sirenetta’s Squid Ink Strozzapreti. It contains an array of different seafood, like octopus and calamari, with a little spice to it as well. If all of this is too much seafood for you, Sirenetta also offers meat options. These include a Pork Porterhouse and a Prime Rib. 


It’s only fitting that the end of the meal was just as fresh as the previous courses. The desserts are handmade in-house, which is another way to my heart when dining out. If you love the popular Italian dessert, semifreddo, Sirenetta does their own take on it with their Frozen Espresso Bomb that is unbelievably smooth. It sits on a “chocolate and almond soil” which is similar to the crunchies you find in a Carvel ice cream cake. Another must-try is their Coconut Cream Pie, which isn’t the classic pie slice you may be thinking of. Honestly, it’s better. Think a sugar cookie crust served with lemon gelato that tastes like limoncello.

The Drinks

Even if you’re not in the mood to dine out to the nines, this is also a great place for cocktails. From Cosmopolitans to a whole section dedicated to Mules, you have a full balanced selection of classics and modern drinks to choose from. I ordered the Empress Of The Sea cocktail, made with Plymouth Gin, smoked coconut, citrus and egg white. As the name suggests, it is super mesmerizing. It even features a purple ombre color to it, as though a mermaid whipped it up. I typically order a Martini and never a craft cocktail, but I’ll be trying this again. Sirenetta also has an Italian-only wine menu and a wide selection for beer lovers.

Photo by Susan Teplinsky / @susanteplinskyphotography

Looking to the Future

The future for Sirenetta and Lombardi as a Hoboken restaurateur is poised to flourish. Lombardi’s background in the restaurant industry started when she attended the International Culinary Center in NYC.  She completed both culinary and sommelier courses, and went on to become a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Masters. Now, Sirenetta will play a huge part in Lombardi’s plans of starting her own hospitality group. Each restaurant will have a different concept, menu and vibe than the previous.

She also shared that they have plans to open a cocktail lounge and coffee shop in the back room, where there is also a brand new bar and lounge that provides a different aesthetic than the main roomperfect for private events.

Sirenetta is located at 1039 Washington Street in Hoboken and is open daily from 5 p.m to 12 a.m. And coming soon, an Oyster Happy Hour from 3 p.m to 5 p.m. Reservations can be made through Resy. 

Main image of owner Gabi Lombardi courtesy of Susan Teplinsky

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Don’t Miss This NJ Drive-Thru Jack-O-Lantern Experience Wed, 21 Oct 2020 01:00:26 +0000 Visit Skylands Stadium located in Augusta, NJ this Halloween season for their drive-thru Jack-O-Lantern…

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Visit Skylands Stadium located in Augusta, NJ this Halloween season for their drive-thru Jack-O-Lantern experience. You’ve never seen Halloween decorations like this before. This tour consists of over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns that decorate the property, stadium and surrounding cornfields. While some may prefer the scarier attractions, this event is perfect for families of all ages, date nights and Halloween-lovers.

This fun-filled experience has tickets for sale online only. When purchasing your tickets, you will choose a time slot and Skylands Stadium asks that all guests arrive about 15 minutes before that slot. Tickets are priced at $34 per car. Skylands Stadium ensures that printed or emailed tickets will be accepted at the doors upon arriving. During the tour, this drive-thru experience not only allows you to cruise through the display, but also ensures safety precautions when visiting during social distancing. 

This event is currently running through November 1st. The show will go on rain or shine and the tickets are non-refundable. Time slots sell out fast so reserve your spot soon.

nj drive-thru jack-o-lantern

Courtesy of Skylands Stadium

There are also packages offered for groups of larger groups, birthdays, anniversaries and more. These options include party areas, indoor/outdoor seating, tickets per carload, custom food as well as refreshments, cakes, treats and more! It’s a picture-perfect destination for fall parties and events for those who love the spooky season.

Skylands Stadium 2020 Fall Festival

While visiting this Jack-O-Lantern drive-thru experience, take the time to also enjoy the Fall Festival hosted by Skylands. Before or after your tour, guests are welcome to continue the fun! There is no fee for parking or admission, but there are additional costs for fall-themed treats, seasonal craft beers,  carnival rides, petting zoo and more. The festival runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

nj drive-thru jack-o-lanterns

Courtesy of Skylands Stadium

During this time, Skylands Stadium is doing everything possible to remain safe, spacious and socially distant while still enjoying this spooky season. To buy tickets to Skylands Stadium’s drive-thru jack-o-lantern experience in NJ, visit their website

Main image courtesy of Skylands Stadium

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Bird’s Eye View: Meet the Jersey City Photographer Capturing NJ From Above Tue, 20 Oct 2020 17:03:52 +0000 Photographer Christopher Smith has accomplished much in his 34 short years on this Earth.…

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Photographer Christopher Smith has accomplished much in his 34 short years on this Earth. A quick scroll through the Jersey City resident’s Instagram (@_satellites_) illustrates his astounding drone footage locally and all over the world. Smith’s portfolio is a powerful showcase of his ability to create vibrant still lifes, sweeping landscapes, and distinguished celebrity portraits. At first glance, one would think Smith always had his eyes set on a career in photography. However, that wasn’t always the case. 

Originally from Lavallette, NJ, Smith grew up fascinated with the outdoors. As a child, he was always near the watereither snorkeling or surfing.  To Smith, photography was recreation. He was originally planning for a career in marine science when he answered an ad posted by a celebrity photo agency in Manhattan. “It came out of nowhere. They were looking for someone local, and I was curious,” he said. Not long after, Smith found himself walking the edges of red carpets and concert halls.”

Although he chose to pursue photography, rather than marine science, he believes the two interests have “sprung from the same place,” his childhood in Ocean County. In any path he chooses, the vastness and enormity of the ocean seem to be the thread that connects it all. 

A surfer paddles out in Asbury Park, New Jersey / Christopher Smith Photography

His work often represents extensive bodies of water and spacious landscapes, both through digital photography and drone. “It’s the most unifying feature. And something that I love and will always love. When my wife and I moved to the city, my one requirement was to live near the water. ” 

After landing the agency job, Smith began commuting to the city from Ocean County to photograph celebrities at significant events (MTV Awards, etc.), turning his hobby into a thriving profession. As time passed, he traveled and incorporated his love of nature and wildlife in his work. Although he has fallen in love with drone photography, his professional work still relies on digital SLRs. The Associated Press and Getty Images have since syndicated him and his work has been published in newspapers and magazines worldwide. 

Bird’s eye view of Thompson Park, NJ / Christopher Smith Photography

Smith often pulls concepts from the nature documentaries he watched as a kid. “David Attenborough is my number one inspiration. He’s somebody who loves what he does and does it [well] even though he’s in his nineties.” In terms of color and composition,  Smith looks to the master painters of past centuries. “There’s a lot of mathematics in their work, a lot of planning. I started finding these patterns showing up in my photography by accident, so I think there’s some sort of fundamental attraction that humans have to these compositional elements that these painters used.” Once Smith started picking these elements apart, he was able to understand what makes a good photo, utilizing the basics to produce greater depth to his work. 

“It’s all math, essentially, ratios. The rule of thirds is a door you open up, and there’s a whole world on the other side. I started seeing compositional relationships. In school, I thought math was just equations. It turns out real math, what mathematicians do, is all about problem-solving and relationships, which is much more interesting.”

Smith still carries what he learned through his years studying science. He finds the scientific method can be useful when approaching his work. “I think, in general, [the scientific method] is something that you can apply to a lot of different areas of your life. Taking a systematic approach to photography is probably the main thing that I’ve been able to transfer from my background in science.” 

nj drone photographers

Christopher Smith

The scientific method observes the natural world, as Smith does through his lens, and collects data. In photography, the data could be the weather, the settings on the camera, things of that nature. Each photo is an experiment, giving Smith the power to prove or dispute a theory. Each photo a chance for discovery. 

His editing technique is to alter his photos as little as possible, with only minor adjustments to color or distraction. “I try to make the photos look the way the scene would look with your eye. I don’t like to go overboard with filtering, but I do usually work the photo a little to try to give it more atmosphere.”

His goal is to bring out the most natural reaction in a person as if one is standing there witnessing the moment alongside him. “I think our subjective reality has a lot to do with our emotion at that moment, so when you’re standing on a mountain, and there’s a sunset in front of you, and the foliage is changing, I think you see something very different than what the camera captures.” 

A recent aerial photo published to Smith’s Instagram features a campsite half-submerged in lake water. Surrounding the cabin are vibrant shades of yellows, reds, and greens, colors from the shifting foliage of Onchiota, New York. 

Drone photography of Rainbow Lake, New York / Christopher Smith Photography

“I’m working on a series right now that’s exclusively aerial view photography. It’s more abstract, landscape orientated, and heavily involved in mathematics and fractals and how they pop up in nature. That’s the direction I’ve been going in my personal work.” In 2015, The FAA lifted its commercial drone operations restrictions, allowing Smith to apply for a license. Shortly after, his company was one of the first in New Jersey to receive one. The drone imagery has now become a signature element of his social media aesthetic. 

“Instagram works a little bit differently than an art gallery. You have to have that ‘wow.’ Something a little bit more over the top than my style necessarily leans towards. My minimalistic work doesn’t have many colors and it’s pattern-based. The abstract doesn’t do well on social media. I’m okay with that, but it’s interesting to see these patterns just popping up all through nature. It does better as printed photos than some tiny square on someone’s feed.”

new jersey drone photography

Aerial photography of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey | Christopher Smith Photography

While Smith recognizes social media as a tool for good, he does notice the change it brings to the field. “There’s almost a disposable quality to photography now, I think, and that’s a little bit unfortunate. You have something out there, and within hours, it’s like it never existed.” But it’s a supply and demand issue as well. Social media has made the supply limitless, making it harder for a new photographer to carve out a niche for themselves. It’s got a lot to do with just an overabundance of really [excellent] work. There are a lot of talented people out there, so much good work. [Social media] isn’t so much a negative as it is a game-changer.”

At the moment, Smith is continuing to work on upcoming projects from home and making time for his wife and parents.  The pandemic that hit the East Coast mid-March has made it almost impossible to retain job normalcy. “The change has been earth-shattering,” he said, “50 percent of my career is on hold at the moment.” 

new jersey aerial photography

Aerial photography in Whitesbog, New Jersey / Christopher Smith Photography

As is, New Jersey state restrictions caused large photo agencies to cut the number of photographers hired, ensuring limited exposure to those in attendance. Exhibitions, contests, and celebrations have all been canceled or postponed. Smith has not been able to travel outside of the country and only recently has been comfortable taking trips along the East Coast. However, he’s stayed patient and positive throughout. “For the time being, I’m getting as much work done as I can.” 

Smith has no problem staying busy. A few weeks ago, he was capturing drone photos from the Adirondack Mountains. This week, he’s editing, updating his Instagram with chromatic views of fall foliage across the East Coast. He’s almost finished putting together a bookalthough he hasn’t settled on a title. All told, whether he is studying scientific theories, the stylings of the Renaissance, or teaching himself to fly a drone, Christopher Smith continues to find ways to stay in flight. 

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4 Autumn Inspired Meals That Are Healthy and Easy to Make Mon, 19 Oct 2020 17:46:57 +0000 Roasted vegetables, pumpkin recipes, cozy pasta bakes; autumn is the best season of the…

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Roasted vegetables, pumpkin recipes, cozy pasta bakes; autumn is the best season of the year for cozy recipes like mac and cheese and roasted potatoes. Sometimes, though, our favorite cold-weather comfort food doesn’t exactly fall under the category of “heathly” and can take a lot of prepareation. This autumn, we’re showcasing new recipes that take 30 minutes or less and are allergy-friendly! All the recipes below are gluten-free, tree nut-free and health-conscious. They are all made from common pantry ingredients, which means less time grocery shopping and more time enjoying these cozy autumn inspired meals!


This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and makes enough for some seriously good leftovers! It is the perfect healthy mac and cheese recipes for anyone who is lactose intolerant.

Serving size: 4

Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup arugula

1 cup organic pumpkin puree

1 cup dairy-free milk

1 tbsp coconut flour

4 tbsp vegan Parm cheese

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp Sea salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne


8 ounces gluten-free pasta

4 tbsp gluten-free breadcrumbs

1 tbsp olive oil for topping

1/2 tsp garlic powder for topping

1/2 tsp onion powder for topping

1 chicken sausage sliced

1/2 cup zucchini cubed


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Boil 8 ounces of pasta for approx 10 minutes.
  3. Add oil to a large cast-iron skillet.
  4. Mix together the cheese sauce until creamy then fold into pasta and arugula. Separately, air fry the chicken sausage slices and zucchini until fully roasted.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the breadcrumbs, oil and garlic powder and onion powder then add to the top of pasta.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then distribute into bowls, top with chicken sausage, zucchini and extra arugula, and enjoy!


This fall inspired recipe is gluten-free and nut-free. No autumn inspired meals are complete without a chicken dish!

Serving size: 1 bowl

fall inspired recipes


1 cup arugula

1 Grilled chicken breast

1 tbsp fat-free feta

1/3 cup roasted zucchini cubes

1/3 cup roasted potato cubes

1 tbsp diced sundried tomatoes

Served with tzatziki

1/2 cup long-grain white rice


  1. Salt and pepper the chicken breast. Grill the chicken. If you are using an air fryer, grill for approx 10 minutes on high. Flip the chicken over and proceed to cook for approx 10 more minutes or until the interior temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. Once done, set aside and slice once cooled.
  2. Dice the zucchini and potato into 1/2” cubes. Spray with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.In the air fryer, fry the potato cubes and zucchini for approx 10 minutes on 390.
  3. Cook the rice. Option to use instant rice here to save time. If rice is not instant, bring water to a boil. Use approx 1 cup of water for every 1/2 cup of rice. Once water is boiling, add rice and let cook for approx 18 -22 minutes. Once finished, let rice sit for approx 3-4 minutes until it is fluffy and all the water is absorbed.
  4. Add the arugula to the bowl, top with zucchini and potatoes.
  5. Top with fat-free feta, sundried tomatoes and serve with tzatziki.


These tacos take about 15 minutes And they pack a huge punch of flavor. They are gluten-free and nut-free.

Serving size: 3 tacos

autumn inspired meals


1 cup diced potato cubes

2 tsp garlic and herb seasoning

2 tbsp diced onions

2 tbsp Roasted red peppers

2 tbsp fat-free feta

½ Avocado

½ cup Arugula

2 tbsp Tzatziki

3 Corn tortilla


  1. Dice the potato into 1/2” cubes. Toss in avocado oil and garlic and herb seasoning.
  2. In the air fryer, fry the potato cubes for approx 10 minutes at 390 degrees.
  3. On a cutting board, dice up the roasted red peppers, avocado and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake corn tortillas for 5 minutes or until soft.
  5. Once they are warmed and easy to work with, remove and stuff them with the roasted potatoes, onions, avocado, arugula, tzatziki and serve!


Roasted veggies are a staple for all autumn inspired meals. This saled is gluten-free, tree nut-free and only takes 20 minutes to make.

Serving size: 1 bowl

fall recipes 30 minutes


1 cup spinach

1 Chicken sausage

1 cup diced zucchini

2 tbsp fat-free feta cheese

1 cup diced Yukon potatoes

1tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp avocado oil

2 tbsp Lite honey mustard


  1. Dice the potato into 1/2” cubes. Toss in avocado oil and nutritional yeast. Dice the zucchini and chicken sausage into similar sizes. Do not coat with oil.
  2. In the air fryer, fry the potato cubes, chicken sausage and zucchini. Fry for approx 10 minutes on 390.
  3. Add the spinach to the bowl, top with zucchini, potatoes and chicken sausage.
  4. Top with fat-free feta and honey mustard.

Looking for something sweet? Also check out 30-Minute Dessert Bar Recipes for Fall.

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12 New Jersey Fashion Influencers You Should Be Following Mon, 19 Oct 2020 01:00:38 +0000 Fashion isn’t an art easy to master, but it can definitely be fun! At…

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Fashion isn’t an art easy to master, but it can definitely be fun! At The Digest, we understand the struggle in finding the outfit that defines you. In fact, discovering your own style with the same old wardrobe can be challenging. But suffer no more, we are here to rescue you and offer you some fresh, local inspiration. Check out these 12 New Jersey fashion influencers that know how to dress up—regardless of the occasion. 

1. @kerifay

This New Jersey influencer makes sure to get the most out of the basics in her closet. Her fashion style varies from dressing up her outfits with oversized blazers and white tees to dressing down sunny summer dresses with sneakers. In essence,  Keri Fay’s stylish profile will be the perfect tool for date night outfits and streetwear of any kind. 

New Jersey fashion influencers


2. @caitlynwarakomski

Caitlyn Warakomski’s style is free-spirited with a hint of bohemian flair. While the Jersey City influencer often sports oversized clothes, she never forsakes fashion for comfort—or vice versa. In fact, Warakomski will teach you how to make every ensemble seem effortless while looking trendy. 

fashion influencers in New Jersey


3. @denny623

For starters, as a declared vintage lover, Denny Balmaceda knows how to live up to the title. This menswear fashion blogger doesn’t shy away from flared pants and bold prints. As a matter of fact, Balmaceda takes his followers through decade-defining fashion trends with authentic pieces from different eras. Meanwhile, he incorporates both new and thrifted clothes to complete his artsy, sophisticated look.

NJ fashion influencers


4. @lovefashionfriends

If you are looking for versatility, Dileiny Rodriguez Baron will be your go-to inspiration. In short, she’s is aware that having a busy schedule can get in the way of having a well-put-together outfit. So, her style varies from functional and casual to elegant. Baron certainly knows how to rock high-top sneakers with blazers, but loves to accessorize dresses—all while keeping it on a budget. Her partnerships include retailers such as Walmart, White House Black Market and Nordstrom.

New Jersey fashion influencers


5. @chocolateandcheeseplease

Megha proves to her followers that dressing up doesn’t need to be complicated. When it comes to fashion, this blogger’s style shines from casual to sophisticated every once in a while. Why choose between one or the other? In truth, she loves to keep everything simple—including her recipes, which you can also find her on profile. Megha’s page is perfect for food-lovers and fashion newbies alike.


6. @nicoleneissany

From wide-brimmed hats to flowy dresses, Neissany makes boho-chic look easy. Her effortless, cozy style can show you how to wear loungewear without looking like a hot mess. Also, her page is full of useful tips on how to mix different outfit items for every season. In other words, she’s a woman that knows how to get the most out of her looks.


7. @anums_aesthetic

This New Jersey blogger is well-versed in the art of being classy. As a matter of fact, her page‘s focus on modest fashion will tempt you to try out flare tops and bottoms, prints, and lots of different textures. Anum is also skilled in the accessories department, effortlessly pairing sunglasses and jewelry with every outfit without looking “overdressed.”


8. @lovelylifebylaylay

Of all the New Jersey fashion influencers,  Annaliese Layton will help you rock anything on a budget and reminds her followers that fashion is not limited to a specific size. Her simple, versatile looks are easy to replicate and fit for every occasion. In fact, whether you are going to the gym or need a dinner-with-his-parents kind of fit, she is exactly who you need to follow.


9. @allipetrone 

Alli Petrone is a Hoboken-based fashion blogger who loves soft sweaters and trendy outfits. Without a doubt, Petrone’s style is very feminine and versatile—it embraces unique patterns and fringed textures. When it comes to standing out from the crowd, her fashionable ideas will help you catch everyone’s eye.


10. @abstractsmile

Surely, dressing up can often be put to the side when raising a child. However, Stephanie Valeria Demetrios is a New Jersey fashion influencer embracing her love for clothing and motherhood all at once. Demetrios’ fashion often displays the pride she takes in her Latino roots. As a result, she pairs her styles with bold colors and vibrant patterns, together with fearless make-up looks.


11. @kchakonis 

Who isn’t a fan of cozy? Surely, this New Jersey blogger prioritizes comfort in her looks while wearing more than just loungewear. That is to say, she loves to style her outfits with flannels and roomy cardigans. After all, Kristina Chakonis’ profile will be the ideal guide for anyone looking for simplistic, edgy looks with a dash of boho-chic. 


12. @anniecurtis

If you are looking to learn how to play around with accessories, Annie Curtis will be your holy grail. This Hoboken fashion stylist shares her favorite bohemian outfits to inspire a growing following. No matter the season, a flowy item with a hat or delicate necklace will be part of her look. 


If you know of any New Jersey fashion bloggers or influencers you’d like to see in this list, leave us a comment!

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15 Best North Jersey Restaurants (2020 Editor’s Picks) Fri, 16 Oct 2020 19:39:05 +0000 Prior to 2020, New Jersey was experiencing a restaurant renaissance. Home-grown talent like rising-star…

The post 15 Best North Jersey Restaurants (2020 Editor’s Picks) appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

Prior to 2020, New Jersey was experiencing a restaurant renaissance. Home-grown talent like rising-star chef Robbie Felice got some James Beard attention. Even renowned New York City chefs took a stab at the Garden State. From Montclair to Asbury Park, the best North Jersey restaurants were helping our little state find its culinary identity. You had to wonder if maybe the time had finally come when big-city food critics would actually take note.

With indoor dining in New Jersey reopened at 25 percent capacity (and so many rooftops and revamped outdoor spaces) we can finally enjoy our favorite New Jersey restaurants in 2020 again—that is, without carrying out a brown paper bag. While I’ll forever mourn the loss of some of my Jersey favorites (RIP Modine), there are so many still open that need our support as we transition into the frigid, dogged days of Jersey winter.

During my last 10 years in publishing, I’ve had the good fortune to meet some remarkable chefs in the local restaurant scene. Choosing favorites wasn’t easy (or free of bias). But if you’re wondering where to eat in North Jersey, this list will do the trick.


Jersey City, NJ

I’ve had an obsession with Frankie ever since they hit the scene two years ago. This restaurant is the Aussie-inspired brainchild of owners Rebecca Johnson and Rowen McDermott, the latter of whom is a Sydney native. Frankie pays homage to Australia’s Art Deco scene with references to surf culture and neon signage.

best north jersey restaurants

Photography by Sofia Tome

Amidst the craft cocktail craze, Frankie stands out with its uniquely curated natural wine list (a must-visit for any wine lover). Selling a bulk of their inventory to local customers is one of the strategies that kept this Jersey City hotspot afloat during the 2020 pandemic. With indoor dining hopefully increasing and the expansions made to their outdoor section, Frankie is a fall bucket list stop for sure. McDermott describes their cuisine as New American dining with influences from Southeast Asia, Britain and the Mediterranean. Starters like their housemade hummus with turmeric and fried chickpeas look almost too good to eat (order it blindly every time you visit).

best hudson county restaurants

Photography by Sofia Tome

One of the great things about Frankie is that you can have a completely different palate experience every time you go. Feeling a little adventurous? Order a bottle of Pet Nat from South Australia with Maine pollock and green curry. Looking for a sure bet? Fish n’ chips with a craft cocktail. Had a long week? A burger with cheddar and garlic aioli with a shot and a beer is the perfect remedy. All in all, Frankie has doled out some marquee creations such as my all-time favorite cocktail, the Lovely Creature. The drink features mezcal punch, spiced pineapple, jalapeno and bell pepper inside a lovely ceramic frog. Mezcal has exploded in the last handful of years, and I’m here for it. If it’s spicy, even better.

View Frankie’s menu.


Montclair, NJ

Chef-owner Ryan DePersio is a pioneer in the North Jersey restaurant scene. He’s had an impressive career as any local chef—spending time at Enoteca Pinchiorri, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Florence, Italy. That’s before he opened several great places here in New Jersey—namely Battello and Kitchen Step, both in Jersey City. But Fascino will always be what I remember him for.

At just 25, DePersio broke the mold with his “Italian without borders” when he opened Fascino in 2003. “Coming from an Italian family my grandparents loved to cook, my great grandparents, everyone was a cook. We made fresh pasta, stuffed artichokes, and we spent every Sunday at my grandparent’s house until I was almost 20,” he told me in a 2016 interview. When you eat at Fascino, those influences still ring true.

This year, facing limited space, the team at Fascino created one of the most intimate (pandemic-friendly) sidewalk spaces for outdoor diners—with BYO delivery and sealed silverware. Even though things will begin to shift indoors, the level of service is a reminder of why we need OGs like Fascino to stick around. Classics like Chef DePersio’s ricotta gnocchi are still on the menu of course. Newer dishes like swiss chard and mascarpone agnolotti with oregano-brown butter sauce were a welcomed sight during my last visit.

View Fascino’s menu. BYO.


Wayne, NJ

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Chef Robbie Felice has been stealing the spotlight over the last few years. When we think of North Jersey’s restaurant renaissance, we immediately think of Hudson, Bergen, Essex and even Morris Counties. But at just 26-years-old, Felice put Passaic County on the foodie map with his modern take on traditional Italian at Viaggio. Back in 2016, during Viaggio’s opening months, the young chef wowed me and my dinner party with a barrage of homemade pasta and his in-house salumi program. Viaggio nods to the old country in both look and spirit. The interior’s rustic, Tuscan farmhouse feel and Felice’s experience inside Michelin-starred kitchens make for a unique pairing with the young chef’s creativity and tenacity.

Fast-forward to early 2020, Felice went on to open a second restaurant—Osteria Crescendo—and was getting some much-earned attention from the James Beard Foundation as a “Rising Star Chef.” Not soon after, Felice, like so many others, had to reinvent Viaggio to combat the pitfalls of the current pandemic. First opening up a marketplace for discerning customers and later launching a refined take on Italian sandwiches with an innovative to-go menu.

Felice has knowledge of old school Italian cooking. Rather than simply reproducing the classics (which he can certainly do well), Viaggio focuses on a modern approach to Italian cuisine. Here, everything is in the details. Felice and his team put high-quality ingredients at the forefront of their strategy. When you couple that with Felice’s food IQ, you get what’s easily the best restaurant in Passaic County. What’s more, Felice’s menu is constantly evolving with the seasons. North Jersey favorites like Felice’s calamari fritti with lemon butter and chili always stay on the menu. But there’s a lot to be excited about this fall with new fall dishes like Viaggio’s ricotta cavatelli with butternut squash, pumpkin seed gremolata and sage to see what I mean.

View the Viaggio menu. BYO.

Summit House

Summit, NJ

Everything about Summit House screams local hospitality; it’s no wonder co-owner Dylan Baker spent years as a resort manager for Four Seasons. Edwardian-style coffered ceilings, triple hung Victorian windows and exposed brick embody the spirit of Summit. “The whole idea was to pretend Summit House had been here forever,” Baker said after first opening. With items like his family’s American flag from the 1800s framed proudly amidst the restaurant’s backdrop, it really does feel that way.

The restaurant is the creation of four Summit, NJ residents who all remain friends to this day. Summit House opened in 2017 after nearly five years of concepting. And despite the modern-meets-colonial mood, the cuisine at Summit House is very much New American. Former “Hell’s Kitchen” finalist (and Lyndhurst, NJ native) Chef Justin Antiorio took over in the kitchen in 2019 after spending time at other Garden State restaurants such as Anthony David’s and Bin 14 in Hoboken. Since joining the team, he has focused the menu on locally-sourced, approachable fare that is refined but unpretentious.

best north nj restaurants

Some Eastern influences infiltrate the starters like seared peppercorn crusted tuna with Colatura sauce, pine nuts, marinated eggplant and baby bok choy; and octopus with coconut sticky rice, shishitos, General Tso sauce and scallion mint basil salad. For entrées, Antiorio and the kitchen offer up an eclectic mix of land and sea that is fitting for the season. The dinner menu features dishes such as a tagliatelle with blue crab pomodoro and a Berkshire pork chop made with smoked pumpkin puree, marinated fennel, shallot, swiss chard, barley risotto and a stout glaze. With room on the street to dine (for now) and a large interior, Summit House is on my list to return to this fall.

View the Summit House menu.

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen

Morristown, NJ

My initial visit to Jockey Hollow was right after they opened in 2016. First, it was a craft cocktail and raw bar towers. Then it was pâté to rosé. And by the time entrées came, I was as mesmerized as I was when I asked out my first girlfriend in junior high (she said yes). Since then, it’s an understatement to say that Jockey Hollow in Morristown is one of the state’s premier dining destinations.

Set inside an old, 15,000-square-foot Palazzo-style mansion, this venue features four completely unique dining areas offering one-of-a-kind experiences for diners. I’ll admit when the pandemic hit and so many of our culinary favorites had their futures put in jeopardy, I was worried about Jockey Hollow—solely because of the sheer size of their space. But as they say, the cream always rises to the top. Cannon and his team made expanded use of their stunning grounds with additional patio seating during the summer. Today, they’ve taken steps to make menus accessible via QR codes, improved their air filtration systems and beefed up their outdoor heaters to keep outdoor dining alive.

indoor dining 2020If you want a night out to feel special, Jockey Hollow should always be at the top of your list. Inside or outside, the grounds of the Vail Mansion (and the menu) evoke a sense of refinement that’s both elegant and lively. Jockey Hollow is also another road trip stop to add for wine lovers, Cannon and his team are masters of curation. Jockey might have style, but that’s not to say it’s unapproachable or pretentious. Last year I attended a Cannonball Wine Dinner which was led by Cannon himself. To my surprise, one of the best pairings he showcased was an inexpensive Greek wine. It was a reminder of how broad the restaurant’s knowledge of wine and food really is.

During my last visit in September, I ordered the pan-roasted duck breast with lentils, cippolini onion and kabocha squash. It was a fitting dish for the season and a must-try for anyone who loves duck.

View the Jockey Hollow menu.

Osteria Crescendo

Westwood, NJ

After the success of Viaggio, one might assume Robbie Felice’s second restaurant would be something of a carbon copy. Fresh pasta is still a staple—albeit different from Viaggio—but the energy of Osteria Crescendo is entirely its own. The aptly named “Paradiso Ravioli” made with six different Italian cheeses brandishes vibrant, farm-fresh yellow and red zig-zags of Calabrian chili oil—is a dish one could never grow tired of. “I don’t work 18 hours a day to create the same thing over and over again,” Felice exclaimed when I visited just weeks before opening in 2019.

north jersey restaurants

Photography by Peter Bonacci

Unlike Viaggio, this is no Tuscan farmhouse. Restaurant number two for Felice is hip and modern but still pays homage to the style of old country craftsmanship with details like marble tabletops, Italian-style cocktails and an all-Italian wine list. Osteria Crescendo is a restaurant so good, it has no business being in Jersey. But that’s exactly the sort of thinking Felice is trying to change. Here, show-stopping large-format entrées—Per la Tavola—add a bit of showmanship. We’re talking massive, dry-aged tomahawk ribeyes and whole fried octopus that look as if Kobayashi would struggle to finish.

Felice has had to scale back a little on large-format and his dining room’s community table amidst the pandemic. But he never wavers when it comes to creativity, mirroring some to-go success he had at Viaggio and constantly leaving us wondering what new dish he’ll come up with next. On the eve of his second restaurant’s opening, he said, “I’m taking things to the next level.” And honestly, he wasn’t lying.

View Osteria Crescendo’s menu.


Montclair, NJ

The first time I ate at Samba, I knew before I got my entrée that I’d be back. The Brazilian restaurant located right off Bloomfield Ave in downtown Montclair has a unique charm unlike any other in North Jersey. It was born from chef-owner Ilson Gonçalves’ passion for Brazilian home-style cooking. Gonçalves even published his very own cookbook in 2017, which is still available on Amazon today.

The only thing more impressive than the food is Gonçalves’ journey. The Brazil-born chef came to the States with next to nothing, leaving behind a career in finance in his home country. Here he pursued culinary school, and eventually, opened Samba. In 2020, Gonçalves took another risk by taking over the vacant space next door to increase both indoor and outdoor seating.

indoor dining nj 2020

Photography by Carol Perdigão

If I had a dollar for every time a waiter here flashed me that gleeful “you again?” smile, I’d be a rich man. It’s simply because everyone from Gonçalves to his wait staff are down-to-earth and all-around good people.

On the dietary front, their ability to put innovative creations like a dairy-free cheesecake (that’s honestly better than most real cheesecakes) is what puts this menu in its own class. Samba’s take on new-style cuisine fused with Brazilian home-style cooking like their iconic Feijoada dish which is slow-cooked for 24 hours is a balance of hearty and healthy. It’s also worth noting that Samba became the first and only certified gluten-free restaurant in the state this year. Every time I visit, I can’t stay away from the “bolinho” — yuca pastry appetizers that come in a selection of different fillings. If you’re a meat-eater, go for the dried beef and butternut squash. If you’re vegan, no problem. Order the yuca, corn and hearts of palm.

View Samba’s menu. BYO.

Cellar 335

Jersey City, NJ

A few years ago, Saddle River Inn star chef, Jamie Knott, turned a literal cellar on the outskirts of downtown Jersey City into one of the state’s dining hotspots. Cellar 335’s tiki-filled ambiance is one thing I’m looking forward to most as indoor dining restrictions in NJ begin to (hopefully) ease up. The indoor—and now newly built outdoor—atmosphere features murals by local artist Mr. MustArt and an array of other luau-inspired feels makes Cellar 335 in instant classic that Jersey should hang on to for dear life.

This is one of the best places to share food at, with the team’s Neo Asian-influenced menu highlighted by avocado fried rice and Korean-style wings. Since they opened a few years back, this has always been one of my favorite date spots, one where drinks come in everything from skulls to tiki mugs. (If you’re reading this, please bring back the chicken wontons.) Through 2020’s trials and tribulations, Cellar 335’s Peter Arnone led the charge to legalize to-go cocktails (if only for a short while), a petition that no doubt helped all North Jersey restaurants with a liquor license stay the course.

View Cellar 335’s menu.


Jersey City, NJ

best restaurants in new jerseyAnother smash hit from Chef Ryan DePersio. Right on the water, Battello is home to easily the best view of any North Jersey restaurant. DePersio’s “Italian without borders” is on full display along with a healthy amount of seafood options like lobster risotto and seared sea scallops. With previous pier closures and now a pandemic to boot, for a restaurant that once operated with a staff of nearly 100, Battello hasn’t had it easy over the last couple of years.

best restaurants bergen countyIt was great to see this iconic, North Jersey restaurant return from a long hiatus. Battello classic has reclaimed its former glory since reopening in 2019. They’ve even opened up their massive-Manhattan facing doors during good weather for diners to sit outside on the water. (View my story on Battello’s relaunch.)

View the Battello menu.

Common Lot

Millburn, NJ

As I made the rounds years ago at the New Jersey Wine and Food Festival—which feels like something of a distant memory—I remember stopping dead in my tracks when trying chef-owner Ehren Ryan’s subtle offers. Like the restaurant—minimal, rustic—the food is simple on paper, but not in taste. “We’re making dishes more simple, but more punchy in flavor,” Ryan explained.

Common Lot might be categorized as New American, but there’s a lot of welcomed Southeast Asian influence in play. The braised pork belly—with fish sauce caramel, chili, mint, Thai basil and lettuce— is a welcome take on the popular street food so many of us have grown to drool over. Restaurants like Common Lot are on the forefront of defining New Jersey’s best culinary characteristics—simple, audacious, refined but unpretentious.

View the Common Lot menu. BYO.

South + Pine

Morristown, NJ

best north jersey restaurants

Photography by Peter Candia

After spending eight years under Bobby Flay, Leia Gaccione opened South + Pine in Morristown, NJ. Tucked over on South Street, the young chef’s motto of “Food. Peace. Love.” echoes the sentiments of her menu—which takes comfort food a step beyond what I thought was possible. If you have an itch to scratch with classic indulgences such as chicken and waffles, South + Pine is the place to go. Gaccione’s “Fried Chix 2.0” comes with a polenta and salumi waffle with Calabrian chili honey. If you don’t order it you’re either vegan or simply mad.Last year, Digest food writer, Peter Candia, said:

“Dishes put in front of you resemble in both taste and visuals something that you may receive at a restaurant with a strict dress code. This is what sets South + Pine apart for me. I have a guilty pleasure for the gluttonous, the meals that are inaccessible for many. They may make you feel like you’re on the set of a movie when you eat them, but their aesthetics often skew your opinions on the actuality of the meal itself. The affordability and casual atmosphere of a restaurant like South + Pine is always there to bring me back into reality.” 

And honestly, I can’t think of a better way to put it. After working closely with members of the community of Morristown in 2020, Gaccione and her new restaurant are still standing, despite all this year has thrown her way.

north nj restaurants

Photography by Peter Candia

View the South + Pine menu. BYO.


Englewood, NJ

Like Jockey Hollow, Sofia makes great use of their outdoor patio and brand new space heaters (how are those still in stock?). Sofia’s speakeasy cigar bar meets chic, Italian steakhouse vibe (and actual wood-grilled steaks) are worth the trip if you’re from out of town. The front of the restaurant has a modern, sophisticated vibe; while the back features an indoor/outdoor garden room draped with ceiling vines that precede its back patio. With plenty of space in front and out back, Sofia is in it for the long haul.


Ridgewood, NJ

North Jersey’s foodie renaissance wouldn’t have been possible without trailblazers like chef-owner Anthony Bucco. The first time I met Bucco, he and Felina’s Chef de Cuisine Martyna Krowicka were at the helm of the highly-regarded Restaurant Latour. Before that, Bucco spent his tour de force lifting New Jersey greats such as the historic Ryland Inn, Stage Left and Uproot. Taking all he’s learned about sourcing ingredients in this state, he’s back. But this time, it’s at a restaurant of his very own in Felina.

best north jersey restaurants


Located on the corner of East Ridgewood Ave and Prospect Street, Felina occupies the site of an old bank vault and former office space. But the ambiance is a far cry from its past, with a warmly-lit industrial-meets-reclaimed wood atmosphere. Everything from the food to the decor at Felina is deceptively simple—the details, however, are anything but. Felina is a maturation of Chef Bucco’s cooking throughout his career: a modern, Italian twist on seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. As we sat just outside Latour a few years back, he told me, “Our contribution to the culinary scene is our ability to support the small farmer in the area and show tremendous respect for those ingredients.”

Though Felina might’ve only been a concept at the time, his philosophy then definitely translated to what he and Chef Krowicka are doing at Felina in Ridgewood. Felina’s cuisine is a culmination of rich, housemade pasta and fresh New Jersey vegetables that speak to the seasons. The vibe is modern but refreshingly laid back. Felina’s cocktails pay homage to its ingredient-rich menu, and its wine list—like Latour’s wine cellar—is heavily influenced by European wineries. A picturesque fall favorite is back at Felina—heirloom beets with goat cheese mousse, coffee crumb and mint. Though you’ll want to save room for the rest of Bucco’s hearty lineup, dishes like this can tell you a lot about the creativity in the rest of the menu.

View Felina’s menu.


Montclair, NJ

Faubourg is the restaurant Montclair didn’t know it needed until it was here. I remember walking past the dramatic, sprawling two-level space during its construction. I couldn’t fathom what it would become. For an interior that was a literal bank in years past, Faubourg offers North Jersey a restaurant built on modern French cuisine that’s approachable, and fun to look at from outside the floor-to-ceiling windows that run the full height of the building.

Beyond the intricacies of their cuisine, the different atmospheric experiences one could have, although now more limited during the pandemic, is one of the things that makes Faubourg truly unique. Their outdoor patio is easily one of the chicest, well-heated (firepits and commercial heaters) in the state. “A French brasserie is where people come in to dine, meet friends. It’s very much like when you go to a faubourg. In France, a faubourg is a place where you can visit that has little shops and restaurants. It feels like Montclair,” managing partner, and Daniel Boulud alum, Olivier Muller explained in a 2019 interview.

top north jersey restaurants

View Faubourg’s menu.

Sirenetta Seafood & Raw Bar

Hoboken, NJ

While sister restaurant Sorellina (another great place to visit) has positioned itself as a Hoboken staple, newly-opened Sirenetta is already generating buzz for its fresh seafood, homemade desserts, and date night vibes. Taking over the former (iconic) location of Maxwell’s, Sirentta is primed to become the new crown jewel of Uptown Hoboken. My staff has already raved about it and given Sorellina’s success. It’s high time we all made our way greet the new kid on the block. (Check back for our review on Sirenetta later in October.)

where to eat in north jersey

Photo by Krista Stucchio / @kstucchiophoto

View Sirenetta’s menu.

What North Jersey restaurants are you looking forward to trying before 2020 is up? Drop us a line.

The post 15 Best North Jersey Restaurants (2020 Editor’s Picks) appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

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10 New Jersey CBD Stores That Are The Real Deal Fri, 16 Oct 2020 01:00:59 +0000 Marijuana’s legitimacy as a medicine and as an appropriate recreational substance is a dividing…

The post 10 New Jersey CBD Stores That Are The Real Deal appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

Marijuana’s legitimacy as a medicine and as an appropriate recreational substance is a dividing line in this country. From a federal standpoint, marijuana is still illegal, but it’s been decriminalized in 28 states and approved for medicinal use in 34. CBD (or cannabidiol) on the other hand, the non-psychoactive and hemp-derived cousin of jazz cabbage, is legal on a federal level in all 50 states. While rules and regulations may vary from state to state, CBD is abundantly available in New Jersey. But, where and how you get it should still matter. So the question is: what are the most reputable CBD stores in New Jersey?

Benefits of CBD

Before drowning yourself in the seemingly endless sea of CBD goodies, it’s important to learn more about this wondrous plant. Some of the most well-known benefits of CBD include alleviating pain, anxiety relief, aiding in sleep and helping to lessen the intensity of cancer-related symptoms. Some of the lesser-known benefits include reducing acne, improving heart health, and even preventing diabetes. CBD can be infused with virtually everything from food to topical ointments and is even available as an oil. 

With CBD’s recent boom, it’s easy to find various CBD-infused products practically anywhere. Chances are if you’re at a convenience store, gas station or supplement center, CBD is on the shelves. But, when experimenting with something regarding your health, you should always consult with those that have experience. You wouldn’t ask your mechanic what to do about your IBS, so you shouldn’t take advice from a 17-year-old cashier at a Tiger Mart regarding your CBD. Instead, leave it to the professionals that have dedicated themselves to sharing the healing power of CBD with the world. Skip the bodega and check out our list of 10 CBD stores in New Jersey.

1. The Green Room – Hoboken, Montclair, Red Bank

The Green Room has become well established in the area, and for a good reason. Since its conception, The Green Room has been active within their community. When owner, Darek Wajda, discussed the struggles facing small businesses during the pandemic with us at The Digest, he was sincere. He explained how he saw the need for more protection for customers, so he began giving out masks to Hoboken residents. He even began to feature CBD-infused hand sanitizer in-store. The Green Room isn’t just good for the community, it’s also an exceptional CBD shop with a wide selection of reputable brands alongside their own line of products.

new jersey cbd stores

The Green Room Montclair

2. Strictly CBD – Jersey City

Strictly CBD is on a mission to not only provide customers and their pets with locally grown hemp products, but also to educate the community on the benefits of CBD. Immediately upon visiting their website you can gain access to a vast amount of CBD resources including CBD history, uses, legislation, and even the best methods of consumption. Their Jersey City storefront also offers a delivery option for Jersey City residents! 

3. Garden Street Hemp – Hoboken

Garden Street Hemp takes into account that looking for pain or anxiety relief and considering alternatives to traditional medicine can be a vulnerable process. That’s why it offers a uniquely personal and tranquil experience. The company’s owner, Mike Diaz, spoke with a fellow Digest writer about how he completely renovated the space to have a comfortable at-home feel. Garden Street Hemp offers a welcoming atmosphere and the experience necessary for customers to make a confident and well-informed decision on their CBD needs. 

4. Your CBD Store – Boonton, Carlstadt

Your CBD Store has eight different locations spread across New Jersey, and two of them are right around the corner. They are actually the largest hemp retailer in the U.S., with 500 stores across 41 different states! Your CBD Store locations are also the exclusive distributors of the award-winning SunMed and SunFlora hemp products. These CBD shops are not only some of the best stores in New Jersey, they may be the best option regardless of where you live.

where to buy cbd in new jersey


5. EarthE CBD Store – Tom’s River

EarthE CBD prides itself on a completely holistic approach to pain management and treating a multitude of ailments with the natural healing power of hemp. As if 30 years of experience as food science chemists isn’t enough, this CBD retailer has all of their products tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure unsurpassed quality. EarthE CBD believes that marijuana and cannabidiol, are the safe medication alternatives of the future. 

6. Wake Wellness-Premium CBD Oil Products – Verona, Point Pleasant

Wake Wellness takes health seriously. They understand that some people have adverse reactions or complications with taking prescription drugs. They strive to distribute the most effective CBD products possible, all while only using small batch production techniques from USDA Organic U.S. farms. Their products are categorized based on use, including but not limited to, CBD for pets, CBD for stress, topical creams for pain, and even CBD beauty products. The company is also expertly equipped with a CBD specialist available by phone or text to answer questions you may have about anything CBD.

7. Hemp & Honey – Edgewater

Hemp & Honey is a brand new CBD store along the Hudson River paving the way for the next generation of hemp-based retail. Many of the aforementioned shops on this list have been around before CBD was so widely used and accepted, so their aesthetic resembles that. Rather than stashing their products behind glass cases as though it were taboo, Hemp & Honey displays their picturesque products proudly.  The boutique is also unique based on who they have on staff;  it’s owned and operated by a registered nurse. 

New Jersey CBD stores


8. CBD of Fairfield – Fairfield

Care By Dank’s of Fairfield is a member of an esteemed family of marijuana and CBD dispensaries. This New Jersey location is perfect for medical marijuana license holders, as well as those seeking strictly CBD-infused products. They have everything imaginable from flower, edibles, creams, and concentrates, to tinctures and top of the line accessories. Some of their most popular items include disposable CBD vaporizers as well as watermelon CBD gummies!

9. Good Guy Vapes – Waldwick, Englewood, Clifton

Good Guy Vapes, originally an illustrious electronic cigarette destination, has changed with the times. Due to the restrictions recently placed on the vape industry, Good Guy Vapes has shifted gears to accommodate the growing popularity of CBD. While many other vape shops across the state have begun to focus more on CBD, Good Guy Vapes has a leg up on the competition: locations. There are 19 different stores scattered throughout central and northern New Jersey, and many more out-of-state. This company also carries far more accessories than most CBD shops, and at a competitive price. It’s easy to consider Good Guy Vapes one of the best CBD stores in New Jersey when most residents of the Garden State have a fully stocked location close by. 

10. Lush Boutique – Jersey City 

Lush Boutique is another excellent example of a new store embracing the modern era of CBD. As the name implies, this Jersey City retailer has the appeal of a high-end boutique for those with a refined taste. It isn’t just a place to buy hemp products, but also a look at the future of the CBD experience. Lush Boutique is an ideal location for people eager to undergo the benefits of choosing CBD, and to look good doing it. Don’t let that fool you into thinking this CBD shop is all about looks. Lush Boutique carries high-quality products, just in a much nicer package.

Main image via The Green Room Montclair

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America’s Longest Mountain Coaster Opens in Lake Placid, NY Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:29:25 +0000 Thrill-seekers and Olympic aficionados rejoice: Lake Placid’s newest attraction, the Cliffside Coaster at the…

The post America’s Longest Mountain Coaster Opens in Lake Placid, NY appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

Thrill-seekers and Olympic aficionados rejoice: Lake Placid’s newest attraction, the Cliffside Coaster at the 1980 Olympic Sports Complex, has introduced a one-of-a-kind experience for tourists. Visitors revel in the scenic beauty of Upstate New York as they ascend Mount Van Hoevenberg. Once at the peak, passengers are in complete control with the ability to manually adjust their speed. As they glide along the 1932 and 1980 Olympic bobsled track, the carts can reach 25 mph. Take it slow and embrace the fall foliage or race family and friends down America’s longest mountain coaster. Which spans a whopping 7,000 feet.

An Immersive Experience

Equipped with two-person carts designed to mimic the look and feel of an actual bobsled, the Cliffside Coaster is a fully immersive experience. As passengers zig-zag along the mountainside, they absorb an audio tour that guides them through the history of the 1980 Olympic Sports Complex and Sliding Center. When it’s time for the plunge down Mount Van Hoevenberg, there’s also authentic commentary—and even a timing system—to accompany the ultimate bobsled excursion. Better yet, John Morgan, an Olympic commentator who you might recall from the hysterical bobsled film, “Cool Runnings,” narrates the experience.

America's longest mountain coaster

Photo courtesy of ORDA

Revitalizing the Region

The Cliffside Coaster is the newest addition in the revitalization of the Lake Placid Olympic Center. In fact, Governor Cuomo has dedicated nearly $240 million to New York’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). These funds will help upgrade facilities and create year-round attractions to increase tourism and revenue in the Adirondacks. The Lake Placid Olympic Center has also installed the enthralling Sky Flyer Zipline at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. In a statement announcing the opening of the Cliffside Coaster, Cuomo praised the attraction as an exciting addition to the revitalization process.

“The Cliffside Coaster is one of our latest and most thrilling additions to the Olympic Regional Development Authority venues, and part of our ongoing effort to modernize the entire Mt. Van Hoevenberg complex. This revitalization is transforming the complex into a year-round provider of excitement and entertainment for both athletes and families, which will attract more summer visitors and provide a critical boost to local businesses as we work to build back better.”

However, Governor Cuomo isn’t the only one excited to see America’s longest mountain coaster open in Lake Placid. President and CEO of ORDA, Mike Pratt, applauded the Cliffside Coaster, as well.

“The Cliffside Coaster is a one-of-a-kind attraction at the newly transformed Mt. Van Hoevenberg. We are incredibly excited to give our guests this exhilarating experience. The coaster follows the alignment of the 1932 & 1980 Olympic Bobsled track as it descends the mountain. The views are amazing, and the curves get your heart pounding. Everyone will feel like they deserve a medal.”

Your Next Adventure

The Cliffside coaster is now open year-round, however, it’s limited to weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $55 for children and adults over the age of 12, and $65 for anyone younger than 12. In light of the virus and burgeoning interest in the attraction, guests are required to purchase tickets in advance.

Desperately in need of a fall getaway? Hit the road and head on up to Lake Placid. Experience fall in the Adirondacks and take a ride America’s longest mountain coaster. As they say in “Cool Runnings”—“Feel the rhythm. Feel the rhyme. Get on up, it’s bobsled time!”

America's longest mountain coaster

Photo courtesy of ORDA

Main image courtesy of ORDA

The post America’s Longest Mountain Coaster Opens in Lake Placid, NY appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

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8 Fitness Personalities and Their Favorite Books Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:18:45 +0000 You might call me “The Newbie.” I first started really hitting the gym right…

The post 8 Fitness Personalities and Their Favorite Books appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

You might call me “The Newbie.” I first started really hitting the gym right before New Jersey closed and, accordingly, Jersey City shut down all its gyms. (They’ve since reopened.) Granted, I’ve been trying some virtual workouts, but there’s something tiresome about lifting watermelons on a backscratcher and climbing up and down my single flight of stairs until I’m too dizzy to even stand. If you think that sounds rough, try a night of Zoom Zumba with 17 sweaty strangers. Or waking up one day to realize that your best gym buddy is your aunt. It’s tempting to just call it a day and take out a book.

One of my favorites is “Weight Expectations” by M. E. Carter, and I’ve wondered how that speaks to my stance as “The Newbie.” One day when I was doing some bicep curls with two bags of rice, an idea started growing on me.

I spent some time reflecting on all the types of people I encountered at the gym. For better or worse, I went and assigned each one a moniker and imagined which popular novels they might feel closest to. The resemblance between these books and their fitness personalities can be occasionally startling.

The Cutthroat:

“The Hunger Gains” by Suzanne Collins

Don’t let them near the dumbbells. You can spot the Cutthroat instantly by the way they’ve already spotted you. They’re out for the win in a place that isn’t playing any games. Deadlifts at 6 a.m. on a Saturday? The Cutthroat volunteers as tribute.

The Amateur Influencer:

“To All the Chips Ahoy!’s I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

They may only have 600 followers, but they’re committed to making Instagram love them in the form of a blue checkmark. Whether they’re snapping a quick selfie before hitting the showers or hogging the power rack mirrors, you can guarantee they’re not worried about what you’re up to, at least. These self-named influencers are great for some romantic advice, too, but just make sure you don’t overshare because you never know where your secrets might end up.

The Brand Ambassador:

“Crazy Rich Endorphins” by Kevin Kwan

Their Gymshark outfit’s got enough names all over to be a book of its own. It’s amazing how they can make the entire ensemble sweat-resistant. You’ll want to stay connected with them, though, because rumor has it their dad was the guy who founded this gym in the first place. Heck, you may just fall in love with them altogether, and what could go wrong with romanticizing your way into this mega-rich family?

The Lone Wolf:

“The Catcher in the Whey” by J. D. Salinger

They’re the ones who only go for a run alone in the woods in the middle of the night because, honestly, exercising is just more peaceful without any phonies around. When they do stop by the gym, they’re mostly here to brood at the smoothie bar in a shadowy, back corner no one knew we had. In their spare time (these fitness personalities have plenty), they’re also reading “One Hundred Years of Low-Cal Food.”

The In-Your-Personal-Space Trainer:

“The Importance of Being Slimmest” by Oscar Wilde

You didn’t hire them. No one did. They’re not actually a professional trainer of any kind. They like to think they’re freelancing to build up some experience. You might have heard them say one time that every gym-goer needs an alternative persona, if they’re to make the most out of their workout. Some people with their fake identities, you know?

Fitness Personalities and their favorite books

The Tryhard:

“The Reps of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

They take it to the max. You can rest when you’re dead, they say. Their morning routine allows for 300 pages of reading and zero minutes of self-reflection. They claim that for every mile their grandparents trekked through the woods to school, they’ll jog two. The Tryhard tells us there is no excuse not to grind 24/7 and asks you if you even know what it felt like to live during the Depression, and instead of answering, “Do you?” you say, “I do,” because you’ve had to listen to them all day.

The Complainer:

“Whine and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

They’ve done marathons in cardio and complaining. Most of us come to the gym to let off some steam and… they certainly do, metaphorically. Don’t feel guilty if you need to remind these fitness personalities that no one’s imprisoning them here. They can utilize their free will to leave whenever they want. After enough time with them, though, you’ll start going mad wondering what you did to deserve their rants.

The Performer:

“Little Choirs Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

They’re really burning up the mats with song and dance and good intentions. We’ll tell you right now, your earbuds don’t stand a chance. The performer won’t listen to reason; they think they know what’s best. But we’re pretty sure no one’s supposed to be standing on the machines like that, and we wouldn’t want the gym going up in smoke over some lawsuit.

Have an idea for what other fitness personalities should be assigned a classic book title? Let us know in the comments below.

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New Jersey Among the Happiest States, Study Says Wed, 14 Oct 2020 00:59:11 +0000 I know, I’m just as surprised as you might be. The New Jersey lifestyle…

The post New Jersey Among the Happiest States, Study Says appeared first on The Digest Magazine.

I know, I’m just as surprised as you might be. The New Jersey lifestyle can be truly chaotic. Stress consumes me just thinking about the hustle of commuting, the persistent potholes, the unrealistic cost of living. However, New Jersey is one of the happiest states in America, according to a 2020 study done by Wallethub.

The research dealt with 32 internal and external factors that impact an individual’s happiness. It included work environment, mental health, financial situations and coronavirus testing rates. Each was graded on a 100-point scale, 100 being maximum happiness. New Jersey scored 64.10only 5.4 points away from the happiest state. That of course went to Hawaii, which scored 69.58. 

The data were compared from all 50 states across the country. The results showed that despite the uncertain times we live in, New Jerseyans know how to overcome the ugly and focus on their own happiness. 

What I Can Believe 

New Jersey Has the Lowest Share of Adult Depression 

The rise of telemedicine has been vital to mental health care in 2020. It has benefitted many that are unable to commute for therapy or other medical appointments. Fortunately, telemedicine is only one of the many tools New Jerseyans have at their fingertips. 

Source: WalletHub

New Jersey ranked in first place with the lowest percentage of depressed adults and suicide rates. According to America’s Health Ranking Organization, at least for the past five years, these rates have been consistent. 

The state prioritizes its residents’ mental health through a variety of resources.  Between telemedicine, the help of the New Jersey Hopeline and suicide prevention hotlines, many residents in the state have access to safe and confidential help from professionals. 

After all, the Garden State has been named within the most progressive states by MedLink Staffing. This indicates that reducing telehealth-related restrictions in New Jersey favors patients seeking virtual care and professionals providing virtual care.

New Jersey is one of the Happiest States: Third Lowest Divorce Rate

In the study, specialists found a connection between a steady marriage and happiness. In the state, we cherish the value of unity within our families and it is displayed through the many programs offered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). These services provide New Jerseyans with encouragement and support to go on even through difficulties.

Expert Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., when asked about the key to a happy life answered, “The connection you have to others adds to that sense of fulfillment because relationships provide both emotional and social support.”

As mentioned, close relationships, such as marriages are impactful when it comes to having an overall feeling of satisfaction. But these connections can be difficult to maintain in the long run,  having a support system in our community can make marriages and even families help become solid. New Jersey’s DHS has made sure to provide help and support making the list of the top three states with the lowest divorce rates.

What Took Me By Surprise

NJ is Among the Hardest Working States

In Wallethub’s report, New Jersey ranked 16 in the number of work hours when compared to the rest of the states. It comes as a shock to me that New Jersey still makes it into the top 20 of the list because the state’s current minimum wage is $11 per hour. This means that working at a full-time job, 40 hours a week for 12 months, equals earning less than $22,000 per year. 

new jersey depression

When asked, “How important is money to people’s happiness?” Wallethub experts agreed that money isn’t the key to contentment. But they did note that a stable income that satisfies the individual’s needs can positively impact their happiness. So, how can one be joyful if the state’s cost of living is nowhere near those figures? 

I believe it supports the data reporting New Jersey as one of the states with the highest long-term unemployment rate. Together with the stimulus checks received earlier in the year, the benefits of the recipients went from half of their average rate to an additional $600 until the month of August due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Later, when businesses started to open back up, many decided to stay home and continue to claim unemployment benefits. They were then receiving more than a minimum-wage full-time job would provide for them. 

Having worked while attending college has taught me to value the things I am able to afford. In other words, up until January of this year, my earning wage has been lower than $11. This has translated into having multiple part-time jobs at a time to be able to meet my own basic needs, including student debt.

New Jersey is one of Happiest States Despite Rising in COVID-19 Cases

Although New Jersey has enforced cautionary measures, the state seems to be experiencing an early second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Or, perhaps just the last bit of the first one. It wasn’t the fact itself that surprised me, but rather the study revealing that in the last four weeks, coronavirus cases in New Jersey have spiked. In truth, our proximity to New York City–one of the epicenters through this pandemic–might have to do with it. 

I would have expected this information to negatively affect New Jersey residents at an emotional level even more. Yet, the state continues to prove my assumptions wrong.

New Jersey will continue to provide assistance and benefits during the outbreak, putting its residents’ well-being in a high place in the list of priorities. Possibly, it is the state’s urgency to maintain everyone safe what has had a positive effect on us.

Certainly, in New Jersey, we have had our own difficulties in the course of this pandemic but we have persisted and focused on what’s ahead. We are all in this together!


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