Dining Outdoors: ‘Tis the Season!

The Italians call it dining al fresco, the French dining en plein air. Whatever you call it, it's time, and we've got places where you can count the stars...in the sky and in the kitchen.

When you consider the number pf special occasions coming this time of year–graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day–there are plenty of reasons to dine under the heavens. Here are some enticing places to try:

Café Matisse
167 Park Avenue
Rutherford
201-935-2995
cafematisse.com

Behind this intimate, colorful restaurant stands a lush patio garden full of fountains and sculptures. Chef Peter Loria’s platings are as exquisite as the décor inspired by the paintings of Henri Matisse.

Cielo
168 Passaic Avenue
Fairfield
973-808-1414
cielonj.com

A handsome outdoor patio is scheduled to open May 1, featuring a waterfall and seating for 60. The outdoor seating has a view of chef/owner Anthony Pucciarello’s 300-yard-long herb and vegetable garden, supplying freshness to his Italian-American fare.

Haven
2 Main Street
Edgewater
201-943-1900
havenedgewater.com

Perched on the edge of the Hudson River south of the George Washington Bridge, Haven treats diners to expansive views of Upper Manhattan from the 65-seat patio. The restaurant serves weekday lunch and dinner, weekend brunch and dinner.

Highlawn Pavilion
1 Crest Drive
West Orange
973-731-3463
highlawn.com

From the top of Eagle Rock Reservation, on the cliffside terrace, the views of Manhattan seem close enough to touch. Executive chef Mitchell Altholz’s New American dishes are served with flair. Mother’s Day at Highlawn will bring a special fixed price four-course menu for $59.

Liberty House

76 Audrey Zapp Drive
Jersey City
201-395-0300
libertyhouserestaurant.com

With the restaurant located in Liberty State Park, views of Ellis Island and Lady Liberty, as well as downtown Manhattan can be seen from the waterfront patio. Lunch, brunch or dinner can be enjoyed by one of the fire pits or in an intimate cabana.

Maritime Parc

84 Audrey Zapp Drive
Jersey City
201-413-0050
maritimeparc.com

The sleek and contemporary restaurant stands beside the yacht-filled Liberty Landing Marina in Liberty State Park. The outdoor bar and seating offers views of the marina, Jersey City and Lower Manhattan and Chris Siverson’s outstanding cuisine.

Mohawk House

3 Sparta Junction
Sparta
973-729-6464
mohawkhouse.com

Behind what looks like a stately stone mansion, the covered patio at Mohawk House joins the large outdoor fireplace and bocce courts. An outdoor bar and lounge feature extensive draft beers and dancing to live music.

Rat’s
16 Fairground Road
Hamilton Township
609-584-7800
ratsrestaurant.com

The restaurant on the 42-acre Grounds for Sculpture offers diners a replication of Monet’s famed water garden at Giverny. Looking out at the pond and lilies from the deck in this whimsical setting is like taking a virtual vacation in France.

Red Knot at Galloping Hill Golf Course
3 Golf Drive
Kenilworth
908-241-2211
gallopinghillgolfcourse.com

Greatest misconception about Red Knot is that it’s "just a golf clubhouse restaurant." No, it’s really a surprisingly good restaurant, period. Add a good beer list and cocktail program and outdoor seating under the roof overlooking the course, and you don’t have to be a golfer to get your money’s worth and be glad you came. A Mother’s Day brunch will be served May 11th.

Springs Bistro at Crystal Springs Resort
3 Wild Turkey Way
Hardyston
855-977-6473
crystalgolfresort.com

The stone terrace at this comprehensive golf resort looks out at the links and rolling hills. In addition to a la carte items, a special four-course Mother’s Day Weekend menu ($55, $85 with wine pairings) features salt-crusted branzino with leek-and-wild-mushroom ragout and bone-in veal chop with white and green asparagus.


Sirena Ristorante

270 Ocean Avenue
Long Branch
732-222-1119
sirenaristorante.com

Part of the upscale Pier Village shopping and living complex, Sirena’s deck overlooks the beach and ocean. Classic Italian cuisine is chef Kenneth Mansfield’s specialty.

The Gables

212 Centre Street
Beach Haven
609-492-3553
gableslbi.com

Dining is available on a shaded porch and in the Victorian Garden at this historic inn. Dinner is served nightly in the summer and on weekends in spring and fall. There is a prix-fixe tasting menu as well as a la carte selections.

 

SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.

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