Best Dining Towns – Ridgewood

Best Dining Towns NJ Ridgewood - NJ Monthly - The Best of Jersey

People move to Ridgewood for its old-world charm, excellent schools, and the easy commute to Manhattan, but one of the reasons they stay is the vibrant downtown. In addition to the interesting mix of shops, dining options abound, with a restaurant to match just about any mood.

The town boasts enough eateries to draw patrons from around the region. The elegant, minimalist Zarole Restaurant has excellent French-inspired American food. Village Green Restaurant also tends toward minimalist decor while offering pleasing tasting menus of contemporary American food. Near the train station, Latour Restaurant features outdoor and indoor dining with a French/American menu so good that it’s difficult to get a reservation at short notice. Silver Oak Bistro, one of the newest to make a stir, specializes in huge portions of southern, Cajun, and barbecue dishes at reasonable prices. The tiny Japanese restaurant Sakura-Bana is the best in the area, with fish so fresh it practically swims.

Baumgart’s Café, an outpost of the original in Englewood, features a low-priced diner-by-day, Chinese-restaurant-by-night concept that seems to work—the place is always packed. The recently opened Mediterraneo serves Turkish, Greek, Moroccan, Israeli, and Spanish food, and it’s open for tapas and mezes until midnight Friday and Saturday. For California-style food in a funky setting, head to Joel’s Malibu Kitchen, where chef/owner Joel Scheinzeit serves dishes so unconventional they almost defy description—Fresh Fettuccine with Silly Sauce, Tie-dyed Mashed Potatoes, Rigatoni Duxelle à la Jack. The music complements the decor (Joel describes the restaurant’s design as “psychedelic opium den crossed with Bob Marley reggae hut”), and if you want to know why Joel has photos of himself with movie stars all over the walls, you’ll just have to ask him.

For Italian food, locals favor Radicchio Restaurant despite the noise and sometimes mediocre service. At Bazzini you can find satisfying, contemporary Italian cuisine, though the superb restaurant 28 Oak Street that was once at this spot is still missed. If you have children you need to know about Trattoria Fratelli, where the menu includes brick-oven pizza the kids will love and a variety of upscale dishes for the parents, all served in an atmosphere that is far from a pizza parlor. More standard kids’ fare can be found at Lenny’s Pizza and Renato’s Pizza, both favorites with the under-twelve set, especially Little Leaguers. For breakfast, The Daily Treat and Country Pancake House are highly recommended (if you can get in). Another popular breakfast spot is Bagelicious, the kind of place where the staff remembers your name. A word to the wise: Don’t miss the Hobo sandwich.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, the ice cream is homemade at Van Dyke Ice Cream, while Oliver’s Chocolates, started by a New York executive-turned-chocolatier, has homemade chocolates and double-dipped, chocolate-covered strawberries. For coffee specialties, head to Ridgewood Coffee Company, or for refreshment of a colder sort grab a smoothie at Village Café (formerly Fresche). If you want the best cheesecake around, cross the border into Glen Rock to Cheesecake Aly, where both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake are worth the trip.

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