Our Favorite Downtowns: Westfield

Westfield encompasses 1 million square feet of retail space, giving the town a mall-like variety with the charm of a downtown.

Ferraro's, one of the many excellent dining option in downtown Westfield.
Ferraro's, one of the many excellent dining option in downtown Westfield.
Photo by Ron Wyatt

Shopaholics beware: An afternoon in Westfield may considerably dent your wallet. The downtown encompasses 1 million square feet of retail space—mostly along East Broad Street and North Avenue. “I always tell residents, ‘If you can’t find it in Westfield, you don’t need it,’” says Mayor Andy Skibitsky. About half the stores are national chains, but locally owned shops are an important presence. That adds up to mall-like variety with the charm and personality of a small town.

Beautification is a priority. Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation, reports that recent work has placed potted flowers along storefronts and installed sleek poles from which baskets of bouquets may be hung.

“People choose to live in Westfield for the hometown feeling,” affirms George Brummer, whose family has owned Brummer’s Chocolates on East Broad for nearly 30 years.

WHERE TO EAT: Westfield’s crown jewel is the très French Chez Catherine, a NJM Top 25. Amuse, run by a former Chez Catherine chef, is a cheerful modern French bistro. Family-owned Ferraro’s offers casual dining and fine Italian cuisine under the same roof. RoosterSpin is a must-try for inventive Korean fusion; Splash of Thai is the pick for Southeast Asian; and Tinga Taqueria can be counted on for lively modern Mexican. The Turning Point turns out breakfast all day. For dessert, a pastry from Rockin’ Joe’s or Crumbs Bakery can hit the spot. Ahrre’s Coffee Roastery supplies the caffeine, with roughly 55 coffees on its menu.

WHERE TO SHOP: Teens flock to hip boutiques like Nirvana and Francesca’s, while moms peruse the racks at Ann Taylor, the Gap and Banana Republic. Oenophiles pour into CoolVines, a wine boutique that offers frequent tastings and events. Shoppers can pop next door to Williams-Sonoma for the perfect set of wine glasses. Patricia & Paul is the place to pick up flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils. The Farmhouse Store carries unique home furnishings, like a reclaimed barn-wood bench or a wood carving of your hometown’s name and geographical coordinates. Urban Outfitters resides in a former bank; its sales section inhabits a basement vault. Not all Trader Joe’s stores sell beer and wine, but Westfield’s does. And just a quick drive from most of the shopping is that downtown rarity, a full-size Lord & Taylor.

DON’T MISS: The year-round slate of downtown events. Bands alight on sidewalks and street corners on Tuesday Jazz Nights in July and August. Carolers fill the air with song during holiday season. In spring, the annual Girls’ Night Out attracts shoppers from around the state and beyond. About 90 businesses participate, offering door prizes, discounts and refreshments.

THEN AGAIN: North Avenue is frequently choked with traffic, and finding on-street parking can be a nightmare. Meter attendants are quick to issue parking tickets.

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