If you live to eat, finding a great new restaurant is a thrill that never dies. Whether the buzz about a trendy new spot begins on an Internet message board or when neighbors share their discoveries at the grocery store, word spreads like wildfire. Before you know it, it’s impossible to book a table on a Saturday night.
“I love going to new restaurants, because they are exactly that—new,” says Jason Perlow of Tenafly, who has been known to fly cross-country to sample a chef’s cooking. “It’s kind of like going on a blind date; sometimes you are pleasantly surprised and you have a great experience, and sometimes it’s a letdown or even a disaster.” In the end, he says, it’s a restaurant’s ability to contribute “something unique culinarily to distinguish itself from its competitors in the local dining scene” that makes it hot.
Montclair resident Frank Diaz says that while he gets a charge out of dining at new restaurants, he appreciates the hospitality of an old favorite, “the sense that you’re not anonymous,” he says. Mark Stevens of Tinton Falls, a former aficionado of hot new dining spots, now finds them “loud, crowded, expensive, and overrated.” What does he prefer? “A place that is as interested in preparing and serving good food as I am in eating it,” he says. Evie Task of Lyndhurst likes to check out new hot spots but says she mainly looks for a great chef. “If the kitchen can’t produce food that’s worth coming back for, I don’t care what the scene is.”
This month our critics take you to the state’s hottest new dining destinations. You’ll also learn how chefs at some old favorites maintain customer loyalty, where to go if your heart’s desire is to dine in front of a blazing fire, and what happens when a certain soup man opens his first franchise in Princeton, New Jersey.
Reviewed in: February 2006Click here to leave a comment