The 16 Best Restaurants in Morristown

In recent years, Morristown has turned its long downtown thoroughfare (South Street, extending past the Morristown Green to Washington Street), from a scattering of small shops and minor eateries into one of the most vibrant Restaurant Rows in northern New Jersey. Its craft beer scene is a strong point. Add the rest of downtown, and your choice of cuisines, price points and atmospheres are multiplied. Here are our 16 top picks for the best restaurants in Morristown, in alphabetical order.

Sea bass at Blue Morel. Courtesy of Blue Morel

Located in the Westin Governor Morris Hotel, the upscale Blue Morel is about a mile from the Morristown Green, the park that represents the center of town, but has plenty of parking and a veteran kitchen team led by chefs Dennis Matthews and Thomas Ciszak. The dinner menu is largely New American, with a sushi section and raw bar.
2 Whippany Road, 973-451-2619; Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily

Pork roll sandwich with waffle fries. Photo courtesy of the Committed Pig

Burgers rule at the Committed Pig—there are a dozen to choose from. Also popular are the grilled cheese sandwiches, egg dishes, pancakes, pork roll sandwiches and a kids menu.
28 West Park Place, 862-260-9292; Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, daily; BYO

Chicken taco flatbread. Courtesy of the Famished Frog

This craft beer bar, with live music Fridays and Saturdays, offers burgers, flatbreads, wings, salads, entrées and daily specials. It adjoins with Hops, which offers an even wider selection of craft beers along with a smaller menu.
18 Washington Street, 973-540-9601; Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Photo courtesy of Grasshopper off the Green

A classic Irish pub, Grasshopper off the Green has a bar and flatscreens downstairs and a dining room upstairs. Menu highlights include shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, fish & chips, plus quesadillas, salads and American dishes.
41-43 Morris Street, 973-285-5150; Open for lunch, Mon-Fri; dinner, daily: brunch, Sat-Sun

Braised octopus appetizer with tomato asopau.

Photo by Laura Moss

Occupying the renovated 1918 Vail Mansion, Jockey Hollow has made New Jersey Monthly’s list of Best Restaurants every year since it opened in 2014. Under chef Craig Polignano, who came aboard in 2017, the four separate dining spaces, each with their own ambience, have reached new levels of excellence, especially the upstairs dining room, daPesca, devoted to seafood. Overall, the menu is New American with a specialty in exceptional pastas. The wine and beer lists offer unusual value and variety, and cocktails are excellent.
110 South Street, 973-644-3180; Open for lunch, Tues-Fri; dinner, Tues-Sun; brunch, Sun (varies by room)

Bowl of ramen. Photo courtesy of Inspiration Roll

Fresh ingredients, with many choices of add-ons, characterize this casual spot offering poke bowls (fish over rice or salad) or poke burritos, as well as unusually good ramen bowls brimming with rich broth, high-quality noodles and generous amounts of meat and vegetables.
40 South Park Place, 973-998-9449; Open for lunch and dinner, daily; BYO

The lunch buffet at Mehndi. Photo courtesy of the Mehtani Restaurant Group.

The Mehtani family, award-winning restaurateurs, present a high-quality Indian a la carte menu and a lunch buffet at Mehndi in the Headquarters Plaza Building.
3 Speedwell Avenue, 973-871-2323; Open for lunch and dinner, Tues-Sun

Maple and chili glazed salmon, parsnip puree, apple and fennel relish. Photo courtesy of The Office Tavern Grill

A large craft beer selection is one of the draws at the handsomely redesigned restaurant (formerly the Office Beer Bar & Grill). There are excellent salads and a solid menu of American favorites, from burgers to flatbreads, wings, entrées and changing regional specialties.
3 South Street, 973-285-0220; Open for lunch and dinner, daily; brunch, Sat-Sun

Potato pancakes. Photo courtesy of Pierogies House

Chef/owner Evelina Berc brings the hearty and affordable cooking of Poland, her home country, to soul-stirring life at Pierogies House. The plump pierogies, with a variety of filings, are the heart of the small menu. But the kielbasa is unusually good and the hearty soups are not to be missed.
45 Morris Street, 973-432-8270; Open for lunch and dinner, daily; BYO

Spicy barbecue baby back pork ribs. Photo courtesy of Roots Steakhouse

Like its sister restaurants in Ridgewood and Summit, Morristown’s Roots is an upscale enclave specializing in prime beef, including dry-aged cuts. There’s also seafood entrées and a bevy of classic steakhouse sides.
40 West Park Place, 973-326-1800; Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Cocktails at SM23. Photo courtesy of SM23

Having met an inspirational mixologist on a trip to Australia, Shaun Mehtani opened this sophisticated bar and lounge, with a good small plates menu, on his 23rd birthday. Hence the name, SM23. A DJ spins tunes on weekends.
3 Speedwell Avenue, 973-871-2323; Open for dinner, daily

Seasonal salmon dish. Photo courtesy of South + Pine

A Bobby Flay protégé, who ran several of his top kitchens, chef Leia Gaccione has proven herself a star in her own right with this casual American eatery where the food is relatable, affordable and always touched with imagination and detail that lifts it into super-deliciousness.
90 South Street, 862-260-9700; Open for lunch, Mon-Fri; dinner, daily; brunch, Sat-Sun; BYO

Pan-seared scallops with Thai coconut black rice. Photo courtesy of Stirling Tavern

From the owners of the landmark Stirling Hotel, the Stirling Tavern offers upscale tavern food and excellent burgers in a vibrant, modern space. The bar boasts a creative cocktail menu and a relevant draft list, with local breweries that are often hosted for special beer dinner events.
150 South Street, 973-993-8066; Open for lunch and dinner, daily.

Corned beef sandwich with fries. Photo courtesy of Tashmoo

Opened in 2006, at the beginning of Morristown’s restaurant renaissance, Tashmoo offers a well-stocked bar, a bevy of craft beers, excellent burgers, a menu of American favorites and a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.
8 Dehart Street, 973-998-6133; Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Grilled Octopus is served with salsa brava, roasted new potatoes, piquillo peppers and a ‘nduja aioli. Photo courtesy of TOWN Bar + Kitchen

Slightly off the beaten path, opposite the Morristown train station, this sleek, comfortable, two-level restaurant offers contemporary American fare and an extensive wine list. The dinner menu includes raw bar, charcuterie plates and a range of entrees, including potato gnocchi with pesto, lobster puttanesca and marinated flank steak. Check out the upstairs patio in the warmer months.
80 Elm Street, 973-889-8696; Open for lunch, Mon-Fri; dinner, daily; brunch, Sun

Buffalo chicken meatballs. Photo courtesy of Urban Table

Fresh-squeezed juices, local ingredients, composed salads and modern takes on comfort food characterize Urban Table, a busy, attractive and casual spot.
40 West Park Place, 973-326-9200; Open for lunch and dinner, daily; brunch, Sat-Sun

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Good Food, Great Ambience at Stirling Tavern in Morristown

Popcorn shrimp tacos at Stirling Tavern. Photo by Shelby Vittek

The first time I tried to get into the Stirling Tavern in Morristown for dinner, it was too packed to get a seat—and it wasn’t even the weekend yet. Even the bar was too full to stand around. My companion and I left feeling deflated, and wandered down South Street to another restaurant instead.

Located among Morristown’s bustling downtown restaurant row, the Stirling Tavern has become a crowd favorite since it opened in late 2016. From the owners of the landmark Stirling Hotel, the gastropub offers upscale tavern fare in a modern space, with options like grilled Iberico pork with celeriac puree, and pan-seared scallops over Thai coconut black rice on the menu.

Don’t worry—there are also four types of burgers and various fried snacks for those who crave more traditional pub dishes. The bar also boasts an interesting draft list, usually featuring a few local breweries; and a creative yet affordable cocktail menu (Stirling Tavern bartenders came in third in the 2017 Ironshaker Competition).

Mexican Street Corn Flatbread. Photo by Shelby Vittek

I tried a different tactic on my return visit, and decided to ditch the dinner rush crowd and grab lunch with friends at the Stirling Tavern instead. We grabbed a corner at the large bar, which occupies the right side of the restaurant. The dining area, filled with a variety of different sized tables, is to your left when you enter.

We started with the Mexican Street Corn Flatbread ($12), with Chihuahua and Cotija cheese, grilled corn, avocado, chipotle aioli and cilantro. I would have preferred the corn to be more charred—and for there to be more of it—but the starter was devoured within minutes.

Voodoo Salmon Wrap. Photo by Shelby Vittek

The entrees we ordered were from the lunch menu, which includes some items that aren’t available for dinner. I got the Popcorn Shrimp Tacos ($14). The shrimp was crispy and well spiced, and topped with a fresh green papaya slaw. My friends opted for the Voodoo Salmon Wrap ($16), with blackened salmon, romaine, bacon and avocado; and the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich ($14), topped with cheddar cheese, buttermilk ranch and shredded lettuce. Each came with crispy steak fries—some of the best I’ve tried in Morristown.

The Stirling Tavern might not be the best option for an intimate, quiet meal or romantic date. But you can always count on getting great food in a vibrant, energetic space.

Just be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Stirling Tavern, 150 South Street, Morristown; 973-993-8066. Open for lunch and dinner, daily; brunch, Sunday.

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Author Dani Shapiro Chronicles Her New Origin Story in New Book

Dani Shapiro at her home in Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Michael Maren

Author Dani Shapiro wasn’t expecting any major revelations when she spit into a tube and sent off her DNA for analysis through a genealogy website. So when the results came back showing that her father was not her biological father, Shapiro was floored. “The rug was pulled out from under me,” she says. “It seemed out of the question.”

The blue-eyed and blonde-haired Shapiro, who grew up in a Modern Orthodox Jewish household in Hillside, was often told she didn’t look the part. “I didn’t look Jewish,” she says. “I looked like I came from another part of the world.” But at no point did she expect a family secret as big as this one.

Photo courtesy of the publisher.

A mere 36 hours after reading the results, Shapiro was able to identify the man who was her biological father, or at least the sperm donor. What followed was a life-changing journey, a full investigation of her own identity and belonging that she chronicles in her new memoir, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, due January 15 from Knopf.

“As a memoirist, writer and journalist, I’ve been digging for the truth my entire life,” says Shapiro, the author of four previous memoirs and five novels. “There are some ways in which I was writing toward or around this all my life.”

Without living parents to ask for the answers, Shapiro went looking wherever she could, including to Philadelphia, where she had been conceived at a fertility clinic. “I was consumed with what my parents knew,” she says. “Did they actively keep information from me, or did the institute not tell my parents?”

Shapiro hopes the story of her discovery reaches others with similar experiences. “I’ve never felt so excited for a book before,” she says. “It has a purpose.”

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The Little Hen, a French Bistro From the Owners of Two Fish, is Coming to Haddonfield

Two Fish co-owners Felice Leibowitz and chef Mike Stollenwerk.

Two Fish co-owners Felice Leibowitz and chef Mike Stollenwerk.
Photo by Stuart Goldenberg

If all goes well, The Little Hen should open on Kings Highway in Haddonfield mid-March, making it the second restaurant in one town from partners-in-business (and life), chef Mike Stollenwerk and manager Felice Leibowitz. In 2016, the pair opened Two Fish in Haddonfield, which was named one of NJM‘s Top 30 Best Restaurants in 2018. (Before that, Stollenwerk had found success at Little Fish in Philadelphia in 2006, Fish in 2009, and gastropub Fathom in 2010.)

But where Two Fish focuses on modern, refined seafood, the Little Hen is going full-throttle meat (eponymous little hen included, see below). We caught up with Stollenwerk to ask him about the concept, how he plans on honoring two concepts in one town, and what to expect when we’re able to score one of Little Hen’s precious 20 seats.

Table Hopping: You already have an acclaimed, cozy, niche seafood restaurant in Haddonfield. How will The Little Hen be different?
Mike Stollenwerk: We tinkered around with the idea for the last year. It’s going to [have] a rustic French countryside feel. The menu’s going to play off that. It’s going to be very meat-heavy, kind of the opposite of Two Fish. They’ll play off each other pretty well.

TH: Is that the idea? Playing the two restaurants off each other?
MS: At Two Fish, we limit ourselves. If you don’t like seafood, yes we have steak, but we’re limited in terms of what we’re reaching our guest with. I realized we’re not speaking to everyone. Two Fish is executed more like fine dining: each element has a reason [to be] on a plate, and it all works around seafood, whereas more rustic French would be something like braised short ribs with mashed potatoes. [The Little Hen] is going to be very unfussy, more laid-back, more casual, with price points a little lower. And BYO.

TH: Can you give us a for-instance on price points?
MS: I would say appetizers would be in the $8 to $16 range, entrees in the $21 to $28 range. For the most part, it’ll be classics. Steak Frites, Steak au Poivre, Braised Short Ribs, buttery mashed potatoes. Simple, casual French cooking.

TH: It’s a small corner space—20 seats. What is the interior like?
MS: The total square footage is 450, with an open kitchen, which was part of the plan for Little Hen by default, since it’s one room. When I was at Little Fish in Philadelphia, about the same size as [Little Hen], it was an open kitchen and people loved it.

TH: Speaking of kitchens, what about you? How will you divide your time between two kitchens, to intentionally drastically different menu concepts?
MS: I’m going to oversee both. I’ll spend the majority of my time at Two Fish. And then I’ll see what happens.

TH: Why did you choose to open another restaurant in Haddonfield?
MS: Well, there’s a convenience factor—the restaurant is like, 100 feet away. But it’s an awesome corner spot, nobody’s done anything with it. It was a candy store most recently. It’s right on the corner of Haddon Avenue and King’s Highway. You can see it from every angle, every intersection—there’s beautiful historic bay windows around the whole place. [And] the dining scene is really cool here. At Two Fish, we’ve acquired a lot of regulars and very loyal customers. We have a great following here. Between Collingswood and Haddonfield, and the proximity to Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, there are a lot of people in the area. Ten years ago, if you wanted a good meal, you’d have to go into Philly, drive over and pay the toll, get your car booted.

TH: Maybe a silly question, but can we expect to see hen on the menu?

MS: We’ll probably do a brick-pressed capon, [which is] basically a little hen. When I think of the French countryside, I see a little hen running around. Though the name was my partner [Felice Leibowitz’s] idea. It was just me and her that started out at Two Fish. That’s why it’s called “Two Fish.” And then it got busier and busier. 

The Little Hen is scheduled to open by mid-March, located on the corner at 220 King’s Highway East in Haddonfield. Its hours will be the same as Two Fish [Weds – Sat, 5pm – 9pm; Sunday 6pm – 9pm], “though Sunday we’re going to open Little Hen earlier in the day, one o’clock,” says Stollenwerk, “so guests can catch a late lunch or early dinner.” For info on The Little Hen, direct inquiries to Two Fish, 856-428-3474

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Andre Braugher Stars in “Tell Them I’m Still Young” at SOPAC

Andre Braugher, the distinguished actor best known for playing buttoned-up, hyper-competent characters on television stars in a world-premiere at SOPAC.

Photos by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

Andre Braugher, the distinguished actor best known for playing buttoned-up, hyper-competent characters like detective Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street, isn’t sure where he’ll be in five years. But for now, he can’t think of any reason to leave South Orange. 

Positive vibes have been following the square-jawed star and his wife, Homicide costar Ami Brabson, around the village since they arrived with their three sons in 1998. “A couple days after we moved in, Ami and I went to the Emmys and I won best leading actor for Homicide,” says Braugher, 56. “That fall,” he recalls, “was a whirlwind.” He later won another Emmy in 2006 for his role in Thief, an FX miniseries. 

Braugher, a Chicago native, and Brabson came to New Jersey for its picket fences and tree forts. “After living in Harlem and Park Slope and Baltimore, we realized we liked this whole backyard thing,” he says. Thanks to his success, however, he’s not always around to enjoy backyard life. He spends roughly half of every month in Los Angeles shooting Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the sitcom on which he plays dour police captain Raymond Holt. He also spends time adding to his substantial film credits, which include Glory, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Gambler.

Even when Braugher does get to spend time in South Orange, he’s not necessarily snoozing in his hammock. Now that the couple’s older sons Michael and Isaiah are in their 20s and out of the house, and the youngest, John Wesley, is away at boarding school, Braugher has taken on work in town. From January 24-February 3, he will star in Tell Them I’m Still Young, a world-premiere drama at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. The play, written by New Yorker Julia Doolittle, tells the story of a couple—Allen, a professor and Kay, a poet—whose marriage starts to crumble when their only child is killed in a car crash. Tony Award-winning stage and TV actress Michele Pawk costars as Kay.

Braugher signed on after being invited to a reading of the play by a director friend, Kel Haney. “I was taken by the maturity of the writing,” says Braugher in praise of Doolittle. “She’s young, but I found her depiction of these two characters, loosely based on her parents, to be very compelling.” Allen, his character, “is someone I’m really responding to. This is a compassionate, intelligent, sweet man, and a loving one. He’s different than the tour-de-force, tough-guy roles I often play.” 

Andre Braugher’s stellar résumé includes roles in the police sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine;”

the 1989 Civil War epic “Glory” (his big-screen debut);

and the gritty NBC drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

After the show’s nine performances in South Orange, Braugher hopes he can find a home for the play in Manhattan, as producer. If he can’t secure a commercial theater to work with, he’ll partner with a nonprofit. “It depends on how much interest I can generate,” he says.

SOPAC won’t feel unfamiliar to Braugher. He and Babson are regulars at the venue. “We’ve seen the Average White Band there and Madeleine Peyroux,” he says. Acting before a live audience again, though, will take some getting used to. 

“It’s been awhile,” says Braugher, whose last stage role was in 2011 in The Whipping Man at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Before that, he was a regular player in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park series.

“The last six years, I’ve just been busy with television,” says Braugher. “This, now, is exciting. I’m hungry for the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd.” 

Braugher’s appetite is not limited to acting. He is susceptible to wanderlust, which is why he is not prepared to say whether he’s planted permanent roots in New Jersey. In 2008, he embarked on a cross-country bicycle trip. “I started in New Jersey and intended to make it to Santa Monica, but I only got as far as Kansas,” he says. The experience moved him nonetheless. “The Plains states are some of the most incredible country. The majesty of that area really impresses you, and you meet some of the nicest people. People who are outside of the thrust of urban life.”

That said, he continues to be drawn to the culture of big cities, especially New York and Los Angeles. And that’s one of the reasons New Jersey suits him. “I’ve been doing my commute so long, I’m comfortable with it,” he says. “And I get on my bike in Jersey, too, when the weather’s nice. It can be shockingly beautiful.”

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Photos: January’s Roundup of Charitable Giving in NJ

Each month, New Jersey Monthly features photos taken at various charitable events across the Garden State. These have previously been featured on the Giving Back page in the magazine, but as of the September 2018 issue, will only be posted online.

The Giving Back page in the magazine is now dedicated to profiling a NJ-based charity or individual volunteer. Read our Giving Back spotlight on Kula for Karma from the January issue.

Do you know of an upcoming charitable event? Click here to submit it to our online calendar.

1. Holiday Toy Run

Photo courtesy of charitable organization.

Young volunteers pause for a photo during the Joseph Lacroce Foundation Toy Run, which delivered about 1,200 donated toys and other gifts for young Virtua patients.

2. Partners for Health

Photo credit: Neil Grabowsky / Partners for Health Foundation

Partners for Health Foundation celebrated its 10-year anniversary by awarding 10 Community Impact Awards and grants totaling $100,000 to those making a difference in the health and well-being of local communities. Celebrating were, from left: Katie York, Lifelong Montclair; Paul Lisovicz, Partners for Health Foundation Founder’s Award recipient; Wally Weikert, Family Service League; Jennifer Papa, City Green; Buddy Evans, YMCA of Montclair; Nicole McGrath, KinderSmile Foundation; Mario Szuchman, Zufall Health Center; Latifah Jannah, Sister to Sister, who accepted on behalf of Adele Katz; Anne Mernin, Toni’s Kitchen; Ann Lippel, Senior Citizens Advisory Council; Mike Bruno, Human Needs Food Pantry; Carolyn Lack, Aging in Montclair; Thomas McCarrick, Connections at Home; and Mary Rossettini, Clifton Homeless Task Force.

3. SAFE in Hunterdon

Photo courtesy of charitable organization.

SAFE in Hunterdon, dedicated to serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence, received a $35,000 donation from the Consignment Shop of Flemington. Marking the occasion were, from left, front row: Judy Balaban, SAFE advisory board member; Karen Carbonello, director of SAFE in Hunterdon; Gay Mitchell, board member of the Consignment Shop of Flemington; back row: Chris Vogel, manager of the Consignment Shop of Flemington; Tillie Campbell, assistant manager of the Consignment Shop of Flemington; and Lisa Fasano, board member of the Consignment Shop of Flemington.
4. Duffel Bags for Foster Children

Photo courtesy of charitable organization.

The average foster child moves seven times before the age of 18. Many of the 1,400 foster children in South Jersey have to carry their belongings from home-to-home in a garbage bag. Partnering with Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), community member Elizabeth Ranson and her son Trenton Fischer (pictured) raised $900 dollars to donate duffel bags for foster children in South Jersey.

5. New Jersey Devils Spread Holiday Cheer

Photo courtesy of RWJBarnabas Health

New Jersey Devils players and alumni brought holiday cheer to patients at 11 RWJBarnabas Health hospitals in December. To highlight the system wide visits, 2018 NHL All-Star and cancer survivor Brian Boyle, 2018 NHL MVP Taylor Hall and NJD leading goal scorer Kyle Palmieri spent time with patients at the Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at RWJBarnabas Health’s Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Funds from last year’s New Jersey Devils Hockey Fights Cancer night directly supported renovations to the family and patient reception area they are sitting in.

6. Funding Research for Pediatric Brain Tumors

Photo credit: Amaris Pollock.

The Kortney Rose Foundation‘s annual donation to fund research on pediatric brain tumors for 2018 totaled $145,000. It was the foundation’s 12th annual donation made in memory of nine-year old Kortney Rose Gillette, who died from a brain tumor in 2006. The funds raised will build toward the nearly $2 million contributed by the foundation to date.

7. Protecting Our Beaches and Coastal Waterways

Photo courtesy of charitable organization.

Clean Ocean Action (COA), a non-profit with more than 30 years of service in protecting our beaches and coastal waterways, recently held a successful fundraiser, Ocean in Motion, at the Windows on the Water venue in Sea Bright. Enjoying the occasion were, from left, Ashley Bissett and Stacy Warshauer.

Send pictures of your recent charitable event to [email protected] for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue!

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Good Karma: Spotlight on Kula for Karma

An inmate practices yoga during a Kula for Karma class at Hudson County Correctional Center. Photo courtesy of Kula for Karma.

When Tom Filan starts his yoga classes with inmates at Hudson County Correctional Center (HCCC) in Kearny, he often asks, “How is the way you think working for you?” The inmates usually respond with blank stares. That’s when he says, “You’re in jail; how good could it be?” That gets a few laughs.

The 66-old-year Wyckoff resident has taught yoga at HCCC for 5½ years. “We try to get our clients to change the way they think, to be more mindful, to understand unconscious patterns of thinking and compulsive behavior,” Filan explains. “Or simply to be nonreactive, to think consequentially, to not give in to negative urges like taking drugs or violence.” He knows of one inmate who used a breathing exercise to avoid a physical confrontation with another inmate.

The prisoners receive classes through Kula for Karma, a nonprofit based in Franklin Lakes that brings free yoga and meditation to underserved populations who stand to benefit from them the most. Kula for Karma’s classes are funded by the institutions that host them as well as individual donors and other sources. Its mission is backed by science; medical advisors include Dr. Diego Coira, chairman of Hackensack University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

To date, Kula for Karma has served more than 10,000 people through 300 programs; it has more than 1,000 volunteer yoga instructors nationwide.

Yoga instructor Penni Feiner, Kula for Karma’s executive director, joined the organization in 2008, a year after it was founded. The original intention was to provide yoga and meditation to underprivileged groups, including the chronically ill. That mission now includes mental illness, trauma and addiction sufferers. In some cases, physicians write yoga prescriptions. Other times, patients already familiar with the program request it.

Kula for Karma has served a variety of institutions, including the Paterson public school system, Covenant House in Newark, veterans’ groups, drug- and alcohol-recovery programs, and prisons, including the Bergen County Jail.

“When I get to teach and I look over a room full of diverse bodies, sizes, ages… in shavasana [a relaxation pose yoga classes end with], some magic comes over the room,” says Feiner. “These people, who were extraordinarily anxious and fidgeting beforehand, now have found just a little piece of peace…It really is extraordinary, the power of the practice. To make it accessible for everyone, that’s where we want to go.”

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Felina, Anthony Bucco’s Much-Anticipated Restaurant, Now Fully Open in Ridgewood

—After a soft opening in late December, Anthony Bucco’s much-anticipated Felina is fully open in Ridgewood. Chef Bucco is at the helm of the ultra-refined menu, with Martyna Krowicka (formerly of Restaurant Latour) working the line as chef de cuisine. Expect seriously refined modern Italian built on local proteins and produce, with a sleek cocktail and drinks program. Felina, 54 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood; 551-276-5454

Pasha Mezze Grill quietly opened just before the holidays hit, housed in the former home of Fazzolare’s Italian Bistro in Lake Hiawatha. The menu is intriguingly pan-Mediterranean, with dishes presumably representing “Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon, Italy, and Cyprus.” Familiar plates abound (meat kebabs, babaganoush, Shepherd salad, char-grilled smoky Spanish octopus), but exploration beckons with dishes like Erishte (Mediterranean noodles with tomato and walnut), Turkish Gozleme (cheese-filled flat bread), and the wintry beet and carrot mix of a cold Ensalada Russa. Weekend brunch is another distinguishing factor. BYO. Pasha Mezza Grill, 94 North Beverwyck Road, Lake Hiawatha; 973-265-4982

Technique has finally opened in the former home of Caffe Anello in Westwood. Keeping up a seeming trend in French revival in the Garden State (Faubourg in Montclair and the Little Hen soon to come in Haddonfield), Technique’s prim menu focuses on classic French “with an American accent,” with chef Ross Goldflam putting out dishes like escargots with Bordeaux and bone marrow, Halibut in a beurre blanc with fingerling potatoes, and coq au vin with lardons and pearl onion. Technique, 425 Broadway, Westwood; 201-722-1222

—Sweetening the French trend in North Jersey is the recently opened Pierre & Michel Bakery in Ridgewood, the second outpost for the business (the first opened in Elmwood Park two and a half years ago). Helmed by duo Pierre Chahime and Michel Khoury, the bakery’s second location is just days into continuing its legacy of ultra-French, ultra-refined, generally exquisite baked goods. You’ll find the full rainbow of the classic French bakery (beautiful gateaux, dainty macaron, tarts, croissants, and rows of Viennese pastry), which you can take out or cuddle up with on one of the cozy couches and devour with some hot coffee. Phone not (yet) connected, but definitely open. Pierre & Michel Bakery, 38 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood; no phone yet.

In the Works:

—Formerly working out of a commercial kitchen space, Regina’s Sweet Temptations is set to open the doors on its bright pink interior in Park Ridge very soon. Founded in 2015 by namesake baker Regina Davis, the bakery does cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats, specializing in custom cakes and personal-touch goodies for events. Regina’s Sweet Temptations, 133 Park Avenue, Park Ridge; 201-491-1819

—Set to open on Essex Street for some time now, Bite Food & Coffee Co. appears to be looking for managers to run the café and coffee shop. Taking into account training time, that means the long-awaited space could open within a matter of weeks. Bite Food & Coffee Co., Essex Street, Hackensack; no phone yet.

—Napolitano-style Aumm Aumm Pizzeria & Wine Bar in North Bergen is in the works to open a second location in Englewood. The original location on the corner of Broadway in North Bergen boasted a 150+ wine list, which we assume will be repeated (if not matched) in Englewood. As for the menu, pizza will feature, obviously, but we’re just as interested to see if the menu keeps up the rustic/refined Napolitano bites put out by chef Antonio Savino. No word on exact opening date, though front- and back-of-house job postings went up about a month ago, so chances are they’ll open within weeks (rather than months). Aumm Aumm Pizzeria & Wine Bar at the Brownstone, 22 Nordhoff Place, Englewood; no phone yet.


—Robert Esposito, owner of the beloved Espo’s in Raritan, passed away over the holidays following a two-year battle with leukemia, and the restaurant itself—a cozy Italian neighborhood mainstay where Esposito worked for 45 years—has closed its doors. As rumors of the restaurant’s possible closure were confirmed, locals bid the place farewell prior to its closure on December 28. The closing has been aptly called “the end of an era” by its many enthusiastic regulars. Espo’s, 10 2nd Street, Raritan.

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Brandy Earns New Respect

Photo courtesy of Copper & Kings.

Another boat lifted by the rising tide of interest in artisanal spirits is brandy. In October 2017, according to government statistics, American distillers produced more than twice the amount of brandy they did the previous October. That put brandy second to whiskey for the month, dwarfing rum, gin and vodka combined.

Brandy shines as a semi-sweet replacement for whiskey in fruited cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac. It boosts wine drinks like sangria and further warms a winter toddy.

“You can mix it with anything,” says Eric Sobalvarro of the Barrow House in Clifton. He puts a brandy cocktail on his list every season. “Winter is a really good time to use it because it plays the same role as whiskey but is friendly, sweeter and not as spicy.”

Brandy is distilled from fermented fruit juice, usually grape. Cognac is a French brandy distilled from grape wine. Brandy can also be made from other fruits.

Laird’s Applejack, distilled from apple cider and neutral grain spirits, was New Jersey’s—and America’s—original distilled spirit, supplied to George Washington and his troops. Today, the eighth and ninth generations of the Laird family run the Scobeyville company. The brandy is blended and aged there after fermentation and distillation in Virginia from local apples. (Blame the ripping out of many old Jersey orchards in the post-WWII building boom.) Laird products range from unaged Jersey Lightning to a 12-year apple brandy made for savoring solo and described as having aromas of “pastry, butter and ginger.”

Copper & Kings, the hip Louisville distillery, makes one of the premier American grape brandies today. Its American Craft Brandy has deep, spicy-sweet flavor and, at 90 proof, is bold enough for mixing. Jersey sales rep Paige Shelton says it can counter any lingering “connotations [of brandy] as a cheap, bottom-shelf thing.”

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At Marinade, Feast on Fast-Casual Korean Fare

Spicy soy garlic Korean wings with beet juice-spiked pickled radish and cucumber. Photo by Emily Bell

Even if you’re familiar with Korean fast-casual, there are a few unexpected combinations at Marinade, a young “Asian Fusion Café & Kitchen” on the corner of a small strip mall on Livingston Street in Norwood. A friend and I stopped in there last month to refuel for (just a bit more) competitive holiday retail. After losing any trace of comfort and joy on line at HomeGoods, Korean double-fried chicken wings were almost medically necessary.

Marinade prides itself on wings, deservedly, and the big chalkboard overhanging the front counter actually shows a fairly short menu: Korean fried chicken (regular or “crispy-fried,” wings or drumsticks or mixed, with your choice of soy garlic, spicy soy garlic, or Yangyum Korean red chili glaze), a section called “Korean Fusion” (Korean protein such as bulgogi barbecue, done as a panini or wrap), Korean rice bowls (with a similar choice of protein and unexpected fusion options like mozzarella), salads, Omu-Noodle (more on that shortly) and fries.

After placing our order, we sat down at a big communal table for a short wait as a kitchen somewhere in the back put our food—and more than a few takeout orders—together. As we peeled off five or six layers, respectively, we took in the casual café space: modern, open, well lit (the sleek minimalist bare-bulb fixtures had a strong glow). This seems to be a popular takeout/delivery spot, so seating in the café space itself was ample. There were a few big tables, as well as window counter seating that would make a nice spot for a solo lunch.

Omu-noodle omelet with stir-fried noodles, scallions, soy glaze and bonito flakes. Photo by Emily Bell

Even with the brisk takeout business, our food was prompt compared to some restaurants that will let you sit while endless takeout/GrubHub/Seamless orders are hustled out. Maybe it was the dishes we ordered, but the menu veered toward the conservative side of fusion. Our spicy soy garlic Korean chicken wings ($6.50 for 6) delivered on the double-fried promise with extra juiciness and a crispy-thin skin lacquered (not too generously, no extra napkins needed here) with a garlickly soy glaze that had just a hint of sweetness and heat. The surprise here was the pickled pink (beet-spiked) radish and cucumber garnish. Crunchy, sweet, tangy—it was clearly meant to be a refreshing palate cleanser; we shoveled it down like it was ice cream. We decided that next time we’d try the Yangyum glaze.

Wings dispatched, we tucked into our Omu-Noodle ($8.50, enough for two). A first for both of us, it’s a fusion play on Omurice, a fusion dish consisting of an omelet with stir-fried rice what traces its origins to Japan in the 1970s, and has since apparently became popular in Korean cafes. At Marinade, the Omu-Noodle was a big, warm, soft omelet with stir-fried noodles instead of rice, topped with sweet-savory soy glaze, scallions, and umami-packed bonito flakes (you will shamelessly vacuum them up). If fusion can get clunky, this was simple and richly savory.

Kimchi fries with cheese, scallions, bacon and black sesame. Photo by Emily Bell

We finished with Kimchi Fries, a serious caloric value at $6.95 and arguably the world’s best Asian fusion hangover remedy (if you’re in the market for that sort of thing). Conceptually hybridizing loaded Jersey diner fries and Quebecois gravy-drenched poutine, these were meaty, crispy, twice-fried fries studded with bacon, scallions, melted cheese, and moderate-potency kimchi. Neither of us were hungover physically, but even psychologically (holiday retail), something about the fries was just plain restorative.

The check was nominal: $28 for two, with leftovers. The business is young, though their focus on a short menu, good service, and steady takeout speaks of experience. With the Super Bowl coming up, I might consider putting in a big spicy garlic and Yangyum wings order, with a massive side of that pickled radish.

Marinade Asian Fusion Café & Kitchen is located at 544 Livingston Street in Norwood. They offer free delivery within a five-mile radius for a $20 minimum order, and do plenty of takeout. 201-660-7911.

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