A Garden State New Year can be many things. Boring isn’t usually one of them. From Champagne and calm by the sea to old school steakhouse glam to chile-infused, tequila-spiked hot cocoa toasts, Jersey has as many kinds of New Year’s Eve as it does egg sandwich preferences. Your only job—beyond securing safe transportation and maybe a babysitter—is to pick out the kind of food and drink and ambiance (read: noise level) you want surrounding you as you ring in the first minutes of 2019. Here are just nine out of hundreds of NJ New Year’s celebrations to get your holiday planning started.
Always check with the venue for time and menu questions. Prices are taken from restaurant and ticket websites and (unless noted) don’t include tax or gratuity.
—Music at the Hill: The Hill in Closter is going fancy-festive this New Year’s with a ticketed five-course dinner from chef Ben Pollinger and a private concert from Wyckoff native, Tony-nominated Constantine Maroulis. It’s an expensive night, yes, but then the accolades between Maroulis and Pollinger are plenty. (By midnight, the requisite Champagne toast will seem like an afterthought.) $190, Tickets can be booked to start at 8pm, The Hill, 252 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; 201-899-4700
—Four Courses Down the Shore: It’s a Jersey Shore New Year’s with class. Drifthouse by David Burke is doing a regular à la carte menu with specials up to 8:30pm, when they start serving a special four-course dinner menu from Drifthouse executive chef Robert Burke (David’s brother). Think refined plates with beachy relaxation, plus Champagne and party favors, all leading up to a flat screen-broadcasted Ball Drop. Bonus: Drifthouse is also serving its “Burger Night” menu from 4pm to 9pm New Year’s Day, exactly what you need when you want to sleep in and not cook. 8:30pm New Year’s Eve; 4–9pm New Year’s Day. $110 NYE, $29 NYD menus; Drifthouse by David Burke, 1485 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright; 732-530-9760
—Reveillon Francais: “Reveillon” refers to the French Christmas and New Year’s Eve feast traditions, and if you’ve experienced their escargots swimming in pools of garlic butter, you know Sophie’s Bistro in Somerset takes its French-ness very seriously. “Reveillon” will be in full swing for its two New Year’s Eve seatings, which include a fresh Salade Reveillon (New Year’s always begins with salad), and richer French classics like Magret de Canard (Duck Breast) with a Cognac and Dijon Cream Sauce. For the quieter NYE set, though Champagne (we can only hope) will flow. It’s French, after all. 4–5:30pm ($51.95), 6–10:30pm ($68.95), Sophie’s Bistro, 700 Hamilton Street, Somerset; 732-545-7778
—Seasonal Italian Festa: Pugliese chef Nunzio Patruno is cooking an Italian New Year’s Eve feast at his eponymous restaurant in Collingswood. The restaurant is taking reservations starting at 7pm for a special three-course prix fixe that appears to go fearlessly full-throttle on indulgent flavors. A few intriguing options the night’s menu are dishes like Monte Carlo Lobster Bisque, Burrata with Prosciutto di Parma, Baked Pears, and Truffle Honey, Wild Boar Loin over Pumpkin Gnocchi, and Orange Zest Panna Cotta. 7pm, $75, Nunzio’s Ristorante Rustico, 706 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood; 856-858-9840
—Pan-Latin Love: As they say on their website, “Somos” means “we are”—an indication of the restaurant’s inclusive, celebratory spirit, but also something you can shout when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve if you’re dining there. Seatings at the modern pan-Latin restaurant are at 6pm and 9pm, with a three-course prix fixe from chef Juan Placencia that includes dishes like Octopus a la Plancha, Chicken Adobado, and Filet Migno Encebollado, with intriguing drink specials like the cranberry-studded Holiday Sangria and a Frozen Mexican Hot Chocolate made with chile-infused tequila, Earl Grey, and Rumchata. 6pm ($60) and 9pm ($85), Somos, 185 River Road, North Arlington; 201-621-0899
—Steak and Fireworks: Steak and fireworks—hard to find a sleeker New Year’s. For diners in the New Brunswick area, you’ll find that at Stage Left Steak, one of the several area restaurants participating in the citywide New Year’s Eve celebration (which includes a 6pm, separately ticketed “Salute to Vienna” concert at the New Jersey State Theater). So far as we can tell, it’s their regular steakhouse menu on offer that night (which, ahem, just so happens to include a New Year’s splurge-worthy Wagyu Tasting for Two), plus Chandon sparkling wine and/or Malabar Spiced Liqueur cocktails. Make your reservation on the later side so you can head over to Monument Square, where they’ll have a DJ starting at 11:30pm, and enjoy fireworks set off from the rooftop of the Heldrich Hotel. Stage Left Steak, 5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick; 732-828-4444
—Culture Crush: It’s a three-in-one New Year’s Eve at Rat’s in Hamilton—you’ll be immersed in the Grounds for Sculpture, you’ll get a farm-to-table style five-course tasting menu from Rat’s, and you’ll get complimentary ticket to the Club Rat’s New Year’s Eve Dance Party in the Grounds for Sculpture Pavilion. Dancing starts at 10pm (and costs $20 if you come for the party alone), and goes all the way to 1am, meaning you can work off some of your hyper seasonal tasting menu and start 2019 with a few new dance moves. 5–10pm, Rat’s Restaurant, 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton; 609-584-7800
—Cozy Culinary: The Pluckemin Inn made our “30 Best” list this year (with a little help from newly promoted executive chef Kevin La Femina), meaning it’s a high-caliber cooking menu for each of its two New Year’s Eve seatings. Starting at 5pm and 8pm, dinners are three- and four-course respectively, with appropriately lavish NYE dishes like Miyazaki Beef Tartare, Ricottta Gnocchi with Prosciutto and White Truffle, Veal Loin with Gruyere and Mushrooms, and a Silk Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel (the list goes on). Live music by John McCormack at the Plucky Tavern starts at 9pm. 5–7pm ($90) and 8–10pm ($150), The Pluckemin Inn, 359 Route 206 South, Bedminster; 908-658-9292
—Classic Countdown: The Grove at Centerton is a popular wedding and event venue, but it can also be the fairly romantic location of a couple’s New Year’s Eve. They’re hosting an appropriately posh New Year’s Eve, with five hours of open bar (read: pace yourself), a buffet station with dishes like Rosemary Roast Beef and Penne Carbonara, and a DJ and dancing. Our favorite part: after midnight, they’ll start serving breakfast. And is there any better way to start the New Year than with waffles, like, immediately? 7:30pm – 12:30am, $85, The Grove at Centerton, 1022 Almond Road, Elmer; 856-358-3325Click here to leave a comment