February 2023: Italian Restaurants You’ll Love

With more Italian restaurants in New Jersey than any other type of cuisine, it’s nearly impossible to create a definitive list of the best.

But our restaurant critics, led by dining editor Eric Levin, were up to the task, fanning out across the state to visit restaurants, meet chefs and, of course, indulge in great food.

In this issue, you’ll find the 28 restaurants that our critics feel best represent Italian dining in New Jersey. Some are old favorites, others are new to the culinary scene; some only serve the classics, others offer twists. Our critics love them—and we think you will, too. Happy eating!

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GARDEN VARIETY

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Career Began at a Modest NJ Café

King’s first-ever recorded sit-in—a little-known confrontation at a Maple Shade tavern in 1950—changed world history.

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NJ Native Keith Dawkins Leading Legendary Harlem Globetrotters

Dawkins grew up watching games on TV from his Ridgewood home. Now he’s president of the exhibition team, which makes three stops in NJ this month.

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Journalist Susan Glasser on Trump’s Chaotic Presidency—and the Perils of a Second Term

The New Yorker writer and Montclair native authored The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 with her husband, Peter Baker.

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American Girl’s 2023 Girl of the Year Doll Hails From New Jersey

Kavi Sharma’s story is of an Indian-American girl growing up in a close-knit family in Metuchen.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: Treat Your Sweetheart (or Yourself!)

These glorious goodies and comfy cozies will combat the February doldrums.

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Former Pastor Turned Old Church Into Safe Space for Domestic-Violence Survivors 

Town Clock CDC in New Brunswick provides affordable, long-term housing to female survivors of domestic abuse and their children—giving them time to heal.

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FEATURES

Paul Auster’s New Book Probes Gun Violence—and a Shocking Murder in His Family’s Past

In Bloodbath Nation, the Newark native collaborated with his son-in-law, photographer Spencer Ostrander, to examine our country’s gun-violence crisis.

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At Seton Hall, Two Sets of Brothers Make Basketball a Family Affair

With Jamir and JaQuan Harris and Dre and Tae Davis, the Pirates have two pairs of brothers for the first time in program history.

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NJ Italian Restaurants You’ll Love

There are more Italian restaurants in New Jersey than any other kind. These are our favorites.

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How the Beloved Jersey Tomato Came to Be

A timeline of the fruit we couldn’t live without.

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Inside the Unique Rehab Center Saving NJ Birds

At the Raptor Trust in Millington, Chris Soucy carries on his late parents’ legacy of running the state’s preeminent wild-bird rehabilitation center.

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NJ Downtowns Are Breathing New Life Into Empty Old Banks

Developers are capitalizing on these historic, character-rich spaces—turning them into restaurants, event spaces, offices and even a vape shop.

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NJ Couple Turned a Vacant Bank Into a Brewery

Deemed one of the state’s most endangered buildings in 2018, the Woodstown structure is now home to Farmers & Bankers Brewing—and a future event space.

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WHERE & WHEN

Bill Bellamy Reflects on Being ‘The Rutgers Comedian’ Before Big Break

The Newark native practiced stand-up on his fellow classmates in the ’80s. This month he’s hosting a star-studded Valentine’s comedy special at NJPAC.

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EAT & DRINK

The GOAT by David Burke Boasts Sassy Confidence, Neighborhood Following

On Route 36 in Union Beach, one of Jersey’s hottest celebrity chefs puts an Italian accent on fun, relatable food.

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EXIT RAMP

Discovering My NJ Hometown’s Ties to Slavery—And Freedom

“My childhood playground was a part of the rich history of Burlington County, a portal to freedom during slavery.”

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