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New and Notable Restaurants of 2013

One sign the economy is picking up? A bumper crop of ambitious restaurants and fun eateries hanging up shingles all over the state. One of them - Agricola, in Princeton - even made our Top 25. Here are 27 more worth checking out.

Posted July 12, 2013

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Salad from AMA at the Driftwood
Veronica Domingo

Dining at GP's in Jersey City
Laura Moss

Salmon from Pig & Prince of Montclair
Pig & Prince of Montclair
Laura Moss

12 WEST, Montclair

Under chef Shawn Paul Dalziel, the Upper Montclair train station's newest tenant is packin' 'em in with a hot bar scene and a menu that runs the gamut from burgers and steaks to pizza and pad Thai noodles. 275 Bellevue Ave, 12westmontclair.com

AMA RISTORANTE AT THE DRIFTWOOD, Sea Bright

Ama had just relocated from Atlantic Highlands when Sandy battered Sea Bright. The newcomer became the first restaurant in town to reopen. It features ocean views and chef Pat Trama's Tuscan touches, with a wine list of estate Italian vintages. 1485 Ocean Ave, amaristorante.com

BROTHER JIMMY'S BBQ, New Brunswick

Ribs come in three varieties - Northern, Southern and Dry Rub - at this first Jersey outpost of a NYC mini-chain, featuring tasty sides, drinks served in Mason jars and a 45-foot-long bar. 5 Easton Ave, brotherjimmys.com

CATELLI DUO, Vorhees

The swank second incarnation (in a new building, with patio bar) of this modern Italian also lives up to its name by offering two sizes of most starters and pastas. Brunch entrees come with a complimentary Bellini. 12101 Town Center Blvd, catelliduo.com

DESPANA, Princeton

Spinning Spain, owners Angelica and Marcos Intriago import their proud paella and trademark tapas from Manhattan's SoHo to a bi-level, industrial-chic setting. BYO, so supply your own wine for the sangria-mixing bar. 235 Nassau St, despanabrandfoods.com

THE DINING ROOM, Short Hills

The Hilton reopens its flagship venue after renovation. Chef Richard Kennedy features local ingredients and comfort foods (mac and cheese at lunch, pulled chicken casserole at dinner). 41 John F. Kennedy Pkwy, hiltonshorthills.com

DOUGH, Caldwell

Local Produce and a small-plate menu enhance artisanal pizza from a wood-burning oven and pasta (with house-made gnocci) at this BYO. 437 Bloomfield Ave, doughartisanpizzeria.com

ELBOW ROOM, Newark

If there's gold in mac and cheese, and not just the edible kind, Joel Bolden of Brooklyn will find out. Opening his first brick-and-mortar Elbow Room in what he calls "up-and-coming" Newark, he offers the classic, plus twists like Jamaican Jerk Chicken Mac, Brats and Beer Mac and an oatmeal ice cream sandwich with cinnamon ice cream. 41 Halsey St, elbowroombrooklyn.com

END OF ELM, Morristown

This happily noisy gastropub highlights a 16-seat, copper-topped communal table; 30 craft beers; and native son Thomas Donahue's roving small-plates menu (including braised lamb nachos; and shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage). 140 Morris St, endofelm.com

ESCAPE, Montclair

Farm implements festoon the walls of this BYO, where chef Bryan Gregg presents creative variations on South Carolina Low Country fare. There's a $15 three-course lunch and a $45 four-course dinner. 345 Bloomfield Ave, escapemontclair.com

FRICASSEE, Montclair

Verona native Mark Papera sold his fine French BYO, Epernay, in 2006 and moved to Ithaca, New York. It slumped. Last January, he bought it back, renamed it and now shows why French bistro classics, when expedrtly prepared, never go out of style. 6 Park St, fricasseebistro.com

GP'S, Jersey City

Italian culture again boasts Galileo - this time, venturesome chef Jim Galileo going rustic and seasonal. The latest venture from the Politis family, venerable Hudson County restauranteurs, has a hip bar scene to go with its satisfying food. 236 Pavonia Ave, gpsrestaurant.com

GRANGE, Westwood

Christine Nunn, former chef/owner of Fair Lawn's late, lamented Picnic, bubbles up at this wood-floored, high-beamed BYO. The author of the new The Preppy Cookbook loves to tweak standards (as in the Blue on Blue salad, with lettuces, cukes, blueberries and blue cheese vinaigrette). 31 Westwood Ave, grangewestwood.com

I TRULLI, Woodland Park

The former Mina's on the Mountain has been smartly downsized by its onetime owners, the Cassese clan, whose menu at the BYO evokes their hometown of Taranto in Italy's Puglia region. Watch for the dessert cake in the shape of the trulli, the conical stone huts of the area's 19th-century inhabitants. 140 Rifle Camp Road, itrullinj.com

LOCAL SEASONAL KITCHEN, Ramsey

Chef/owner Steve Santoro first gained a Jersey following a decade ago at the much-praised Dish in Clifton. You might experience sticker shock at his new, upscale BYO: There's no appetizer under $14; the cheapest entree, herb-roasted organic chicken breast, is $28. Still, it's good to have him back. 41 West Main St, localsk.com

MA MAISON, Millburn

Franco Ammirati's artful, Parisian-inspired fare (duck confit, crepes, steak frites) is complemented at this BYO by wood-fired pizzas with flair, like the $13.95 fontina and oyster mushroom. 291 Essex St, mamaisonmillburn.com

MILLIE'S OLD WORLD, Morristown

Life of pie: Brothers Vince and Brandon Carabba bake pizzas in two ovens, one coal fired (thin crust), the other wood fired (traditional puffy-crust Neapolitan). Toppings run to the tastily imaginative (like pistachio pesto). For the non-pizzaphile, there are mighty meatballs in marinara and salads. BYO. 60 South St, milliesoldworld.com

MISTRAL, Princeton

Steve Distler and chef Scott Anderson - co-owners of Princeton's innovative Elements - go small-(plate)-is-beautiful. Dishes are eclectic: kimchi pancake, clam-chowder custard, chicken yakitori. Beverages at the BYO are whimsical: ginger-lemongrass white tea, local strawberry-and-rhubarb soda. 66 Witherspoon St, minstralprinceton.com

NORTH END BISTRO, Princeton

Wimbledon-esque purple and green brighten this comfy spot for comfort food, including lobster rolls and porcini-mushroom ravioli. An $18 Thanksgiving turkey dinner is offered every Thursday. BYO, though Hopewell Valley wines are available by the bottle. 354 Nassau St, northendprinceton.com

THE PASS, Rosemont

Charcuterie specialist Matthew Ridgway became a star in Philly, and now tantalizes at his new BYO with a strictly prix-fixe menu; three courses, $38.50 (three to five choices per course). Sample meal: crab rangoon, warm ham-hock terrine, whoopie pie. 88 Kingwood Stockton Rd, atthepass.com

PIG & PRINCE, Montclair

Striking renovation of a 1912 train station (dig the vaulted ceiling!) houses this hip gastropub from chef Michael Carrino, featuring house-cured salumi. Lively bar scene with 24 wines by the glass and 39 beers. Leave room for a "Take It in the Jar" dessert. 1 Lackawanna Plaza, pigandprince.com

RAYMOND'S, Ridgewood

Raymond Badach and business partner Joanne Ricci open a long-awaited branch of their always-packed, atmospherically retro, all-days, all-meals, All-American Montclair eater and BYO. The new outpost has 140 seats indoors, compared to 90, but less outdoor seating, though a view of the park. 101 E Ridgewood Ave, raymondsnj.com

RAZZA, Jersey City

The dough is the show, says chef/owner Dan Richer of his artisanal pizzas from the wood-fired oven, from which also emerge crusty loaves of great sourdough bread. Order it as an app with the mind-blowing house-made butter. Choose from five Italian craft beers and nine Italian vintages. 275 Grove St, razzanj.com

RED KNOT, Kenilworth

Named for a migratory bird that flies over Galloping Hill Golf Course, Red Knot occupies the sparkling new clubhouse. Not just for golfers, Red Knot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Executive chef Ralph Romano's reasonably priced menu climbs from the terrific Red Knot burger to wood-oven pizzas to tamarind-crusted scallops. 3 Golf Drive, gallopinghillgolfcourse.com

RED'S DIPS AND FLIPS, West Caldwell

Inspired by a Windy City stint, ginger tressed Jerseyan Barbi Newman (former co-owner of Verona's Mardi Gras Fine Foods) serves real Chicago-style beef heroes dipped in beef gravy, plus chili and sides; nothing higher than $8.75. 800 Bloomfield Ave, redsdipsandflips.com

RIDGEWOOD FARE, Ridgewood

"American fusion" is the mantra of this cozy bistro, along with fresh, local, seasonal, and (when possible) organic and sustainable. Eleven wines by the bottle under $40. 26 Wisley Square, ridgewoodfare.com

SAM MICKAIL'S CUT, West Orange

A swank steakhouse ensconced above a happenin' nightclub, Cut serves succulent, prime, dry-aged beef expertly prepared by executive chef and partner Sam Mickail, with killer sides such as Sammy's Smack & Cheese. 466 Prospect Ave, cutsteakhousenj.com

TAVRO 13, Swedesboro

Noted Philly chef Terence Feury returns to his home state with an eclectic New American menu, including seafood cassoulet, smoked duck breast with cumin-carrot puree, intriguing craft beers and a smart wine list. 1301 Kings Highway, tavro13.com



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