The 9 Best Restaurants in Maplewood

The dining scene in this cozy, cosmopolitan suburb is on all but full display within a few blocks of its train station. Here are our top picks for where to eat.

Known for its handsome old homes and canopied streets, Maplewood has a compact downtown, known as the Village—the blocks on either side of the train station that a number of the roughly 23,000 residents take to and from jobs in Manhattan. Most of the notable places to eat are downtown, with a few exceptions on the outlying commercial thoroughfare, Springfield Avenue. Here are our top picks for the best restaurants in Maplewood, in alphabetical order.

Wood-fired pizza at Arturo’s in Maplewood. Photo courtesy of Arturo’s

Arturo’s Osteria & Pizzeria

At peak hours, it is not unusual to find a line outside Arturo’s, which takes no reservations. The thing to do is put your name on the wait list, confer with hostess about when to check back and then browse neighboring shops or grab a seat on the bench if the weather’s decent. The big draw are the pastas, salads, small plates and nicely charred wood-fired pizzas of chef/owner Fred Shandler. Arturo’s serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, so another strategy is to come for lunch or an early dinner. And good luck. BYO—EL
180 Maplewood Avenue, 973-378-5800

Photo courtesy of The Cassidy

The Cassidy

In the new building that replaced the old post office, the Cassidy debuted strong in late 2017, and has kept upping its game. The seasonal New American menu rests on making a host of things from scratch, including ricotta, bread, crackers, bacon, sausages, duck prosciutto and all cakes and pastries. The restaurant is open every day of the year except Christmas, and serves lunch, brunch and dinner, plus a bar menu for the between hours. The Sunday brunch features live jazz.—EL
160 Maplewood Avenue, 973-762-5433

Cornbread

This fast casual “Farm to Soul” restaurant with tables, counter service and delivery is one of three locations of a brand founded by two women, Adenah Bayoh and Elzadie Smith, who grew up on Southern cooking, (The other locations are in Pennsylvania.)  The small menu offers chicken (fried or baked), fried turkey wings, fried fish (whiting or catfish) and ribs, with choice of sides. BYO—EL
1565 Springfield Avenue, 973-313-0328

Photo courtesy of Lorena’s

Lorena’s

Since its opening in 2005, chef Humberto Campos’s jewel box of French-inflected fine dining (named for his wife, Lorena) has been a standout not only in Maplewood but in greater Essex County and beyond. Aside from his signature creation—the lump crab and mushroom crêpe in beurre blanc—Campos delivers excellent contemporary takes on favorites such as duck breast, rack of lamb, filet mignon, halibut and molten chocolate cake. BYO—EL
168 Maplewood Avenue, 973-763-4460

Mama’s Southern Style BBQ

Although it sits just across the border in the Vauxhall section of Union, Maplewoodians consider Mama’s local and smile when they think of it. “I haven’t met no one that came here just once,” says Chris Finnick, pitmaster since 2007 of this takeout establishment (with a couple tables) opened in 1997. The native Jerseyan taps his family’s Carolina roots to infuse sweet-and-sour style into barbecued chicken, pork ribs, beef short ribs and chopped pork sandwiches. His mother, the owner (“I just go by Mama”), says the pork gets a dry rub, is baked four hours, smoked in a coal-fired pit, chopped, then marinated overnight in her grandfather’s Carolina vinegar sauce. Pork ribs get a similar treatment. The menu includes fried chicken, fried whiting, catfish, shrimp and tilapia as sandwiches or dinners. Add candied yams, collards, string beans or Spanish rice, among other sides. The tough choice is dessert. So many paths to perdition: sweet potato pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler, pineapple-coconut cake and more. Regulars know to call in their orders to shorten waits in the tiny space. “It gets crowded here,” says Finnick. “There’s a lot of kitchen and no front.” BYO—Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco
2083 Springfield Avenue, Vauxhall, 973-687-0400

Check out our other town dining guides:
The 25 Best Restaurants in Jersey City
The 16 Best Restaurants in Morristown
The 21 Best Restaurants in Montclair

Mount Fuji

This sushi specialist rolls out one of the longest specialty roll lists you’ll find anywhere—47 all told, from the basic $4 cucumber roll to several $17 kitchen-sink numbers, including the Crazy Dynamite Roll with spicy lobster salad, shrimp tempura and avocado topped with spicy salmon, spicy whitefish, tempura chips and hot sauce. In addition to sushi and sashimi, the kitchen turns out tempura, beef negimaki, tonkatsu, hot pots and fried rice dishes. Open seven days a week. BYO—EL
166 Maplewood Avenue, 973-378-8336

Photo courtesy of St. James’s Publick House

St. James’s Gate

How Irish is St. James’s Gate? Look no further than its home page, which features a second-by-second continuous countdown to the next St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to (equally British) specialties such as bangers & mash and shepherd’s pie, the pub is prized for its excellent burgers. And 20-ounce pints of Guinness draft. Serves lunch and dinner seven days a week.—EL
67 Maplewood Avenue, 973-378-2222

Photo courtesy of Verjus

Verjus

One of only two restaurants on this list not within a block or two of the train station, Verjus is worth a drive from anywhere. Charles Tutino, who trained under the great Jean Jacques Rachou of La Côte Basque in Manhattan, cooks insanely seductive French food. But his eclectic themed nights—Shore, Italian, German, you name it—are just as persuasive, and so are Verjus’ reasonable prices. Meanwhile, Tutino’s wife, Jane Witkin, fills the elegant dining room with warmth and personal attention. Put it all together and you have the reason Verjus has made NJM’s annual Best Restaurant List every year since its inception in 2007.—EL
1790 Springfield Avenue, 973-378-8990

Wild Ginger

In addition to traditional Thai soups, sautés, curries and noodle dishes, Wild Ginger crosses culinary borders with Vietnamese summer rolls, Indian roti with curry dipping sauce and Chinese lo mein and General Tso’s chicken. Open for lunch as well as dinner. BYO—EL
175 Maplewood Avenue, 973-378-8822

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Eat & Drink articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required
Required not shown
Required not shown