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Manhattan & NJ (Bergen County) Restaurant Reviews

Ian Hunter's Guide to Manhattan and Bergen County, NJ's Best Restaurants, Bars, and Gourmet Markets

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Meson Madrid: Spanish; Palisades Park. 343 Bergen Blvd; 20/18/$35; 201-947-1038;  Website is excellent. Pan Seared Sea Bass; Beef Short Ribs; Prime Rib; Huge portions of their non-tapas menu; About 30 Tapas as well; Twin Lobster special for $30.95; Wonderful Paellas; Broiled Lobster tails; Full Bar; Fun vibe; While not as good as the best Ironbound Spaniards, it is still a solid option.  Been around 30+ years.

So Moon Nan Jip: Korean; Palisades Park; 238 Broad St; 24/13/$33; 201-944-3998; First of all- enter by the entrance with the Korean lettering (hard to find); Seafood Pancake is notoriously good; Kalbi – Korean BBQ is outstanding and so flavorful; Need two orders for them to let you cook it ($20 a pop); Service is fast and excellent; The place is very popular and authentic; New York Koreans flock here even. Sushi on menu. Excellent Kimchi. Serve beer and wine only.
Biagio’s: Italian; Paramus; 299 Paramus Rd; 20/19/$36; 201-652-0201; Popular high volume restaurant with a good bar scene- especially late;  Dining room & separate bar-lounge that serves food; The usual hugely long menu that will please most if not all palats; Great for catering or to host a birthday party; Service can be hit or miss if other large parties there; Reliable overall & a fun atmosphere. Blue crab ravioli; 

Bonefish Grill: Seafood; Paramus; 601 From Rd @ Ridgewood; 21/19/$35; 201-261-2355; Mini-chain seafood restaurant – basically an upscale Red Lobster; From Outback’s management; Opens 4pm daily; Website is great – listing food and drink daily specials; Well prepared grilled fish and seafood entrees; Excellent appetizers; Next to great shopping center; Full bar w/ creative drinks. Try bang bang shrimp;


Capital Grille: Steakhouse; Paramus; Garden State Plaza; 25/24/$65; 201-845-7040; NY pricing for steaks expertly prepared; Best side is the Lobster Mac n Cheese; Shellfish available; Delicious salads including Mozz & Tomatoe; Lamb Rib Chops, Sirloin, Porterhouse, Filet Mignon, Lobster, Sushi grade Seared Tuna and Lobster and crab stuffed shrimp. Great wine list; Perfect for power lunch.  All so good… 

Chakra: American; Paramus; 144 Rt 4 E @ Arcadian; 21/24/$53; 201-556-1530; Stunning décor and interior made for impressing a date; Asian fusion/ American cuisine; Romantic with a large selection of fancy cocktails; Palm trees add to the serene feel; There is a lounge as well; Later at night more of a younger scene; Attractive servers; Sushi on the menu; Cumfy booths available.  Nice eclectic menu, unique.

EL CidSpanish; Paramus; 205 Paramus Rd @ Century – Rt 4; 22/17/$48; 201-843-0123; Lobster central. All time huge portions of seafood, Paella, ribs, and Prime Rib; Try the Twin Lobsters = ‘3’ one-pounders; Tasty sangria; Overall- fun, family style dining for not too much! Mixed bag on service. Recent reviews have prices going up and cleanliness going down.  Prime Rib is gigantic. Excellent sangria. More than enough to share.

Grand LuxAmerican; Paramus; 1 Garden St Plaza Mall; 21/20/$35; 201-909-0399; Might be 200 items on the menu; Similar to Cheesecake factory in style/ theme but slightly fancier; Huge variety of food and drinks; Fun time for a relaxed family dinner or lunch. Great Martinis and cocktails. Actually an ideal bar scene for a break from shopping or a liquid lunch with bar food. Does get packed on Saturday.
Legal Sea FoodsSeafood; Paramus; 1 Garden St Plaza; 22/19/$42; 201-843-8483; For years a great experience; Lobster Roll, Chowder, Fried Clams, Blackened Raw Tuna, Crab Cakes, and Surf and Turf – all outstanding;  Try the Lobster bake; Best chain on the east coast. They are a polished product; If you ever make it to Boston – go to Park Square location. Great drinks from bar as well.
MantraIndian; Paramus; 275 Rt 4 W @ Forest; 24/22/$42; 201-342-8868; High end Indian; Stylish lounge feel; Chic, romantic setting; While expensive for the genre- the exotic selections are sure to please; Great bar scene; Not the usual endless Indian menu- more ‘Table’ like (hotspot in Manhattan). The Rogan Josh and Chicken Bakani are tops; Incredible $12 lunch buffet on weekends…. A steal. Top service.
Greek Corner Grill: Greek; Park Ridge; 99 Park Av; 24/17/$36; 201-476-1400; Fantastic family run business with super friendly service;  Menu includes Grilled Calamari; Stuffed Shrimp; Saganaki; Pan seared meatballs; Any 4 spreads; Gyros and Souvlakis; Rack of Lamb; Grilled Shrimp and the usual Greek classics; BYO;  Can’t go wrong here and you will feel at home.
Park Steakhouse: Steakhouse;  Park Ridge; 151 Kinderkamack Rd; 25/20/$59; 201-930-1300; The house specialty is the Sirloin; 80 seat dining room; Top shelf service and excellent cocktails- especially martinis; Perfectly cooked steaks and seafood; 200 bottles of wine; Raw Bar; Really innovative menu with fabulous appetizers to choose from; Excellent website and top of the line service. Female friendly menu as well including Ahi Tuna, Buffalo Mozz, Grilled Octopus, Raw Bar, Chilean Sea Bass. Suckling Pig.  201 Mag Best Steakhouse. 
E & VItalian; Paterson; 320 Chamberlain Av; 23/16/$32; 973-942-8080; Seafood is excellent here; Warm, family environment- very casual; In existence since 1967; Family style dining options; Massive menu – whatever you want is there; Spacious; They care about their customers; Inexpensive but Cash only. Sell beer & wine only. Absolute diamond in the ruff. Bottles of wine under $20. Lobster or Calamari Fra Diavolo;   

Hamilton & Ward: Steak; Paterson; 101 Ward St; 24/22/$57; 973-345-8444; Large dry aged steaks; 400+ bottles of wine on their list; Beautiful décor and top notch service help balance out heavy tabs; Closed Monday; Mixed reviews when they are crowded;  Chilean Sea Bass; Ribeye Steak; Prime Rib;  Lots of menu options for non-steak lovers;  Fun, welcoming setting. 


La Hacienda: Mexican; Paterson; 102 McLean Blvd; 24/18/$36; 973-345-1255; Enjoy Margaritas & Mexican Beer; The combo appetizer includes quesadilla, grilled shrimp, empanadas, calamari and wings; Nachos outstanding; Dinner combos are huge and tasty; Basically a typical Mexican menu and very affordable pricing; Great seafood soup and grilled items.

Café PanacheAmerican; Ramsey; 130 E Main St @ Franklin Tpk; 25/23/$55; 201-934-0030;More of a formal dining experience; High end cuisine, expertly prepared; Spot on service and a relaxing setting  provide for a true old school dining treat. Dress nicely. Short menu but everything is expertly prepared. BYO helps with cost; Seasonal menu – check website. First class all the way. Try filet Mignon ravioli.

Gao Thai Kitchen: Thai; Ramsey; 63 W Main St; 24/19/$36; 201-962-2691; Open daily; BYO; Terrific, lengthy menu; Elegant setting – tranquil; Expertly prepared Thai cuisine; Try the jumbo lump crab fried rice, Shrimp Pad Thai or Duck rad prig – ½ a boneless crispy duck; Yellow curry seafood also great; So much to choose from.  Great lunch specials.


Greek City: Greek; Ramsey; 1300 Rt 17N; 23/16/$37; 201-760-2500; Open daily for lunch and diner; BYO; Amazing quality and tasty food; Assortment of Greek spreads includes 4 choices; Grilled calamari appetizer; Stuffed calamari; Spanakopita; Sauteed shrimp with Feta; Lots of salads; Moussaka; Braised Lamb; Lamb Chops; Grilled seafood combo; Whole fish. What a menu!!   

Kinchley’s TavernPizza; Ramsey; 586 N. Franklin Tpke; 24/13/$21; 201-934-7777; Known for Thin Crust pizza; Friendly service; Bring cash; Extremely popular and been around for years;  Fans absolutely love their pies. No slices; Has other Italian dishes as well. Nice drink specials – pitchers of beer. Great relaxing place for friends or family. Endless varieties of pies to pick from.
Varka Fish HouseGreek/ Seafood; Ramsey; 30 N Spruce St @ Main; 26/23/$59; 201-995-9333; Elegant, mature dining; Cottage house dining room feel; Hot bar scene; Outdoor patio in summer- known for TOP al fresco dining; 12-15 whole fishes to choose from- premium quality; Steaks selections; Seafood dishes; Expensive but worth it. Manhattan feel in Ramsey; Top of the line service and ambiance. Large menu for a gourmet place. Serve King Crab Legs. Grilled Calamari. Top Greek restaurant in Bergen Cty. 201 Mag winner for Best Greek, Seafood, & Mediterranean.  Raw bar with shellfish;  Lobster – done 6 ways.

Tutto a Modo Mio: Italian; Ridgefield; 482 Bergen Blvd; 25/15/$38; 201-313-9690; Classic menu of locals enjoying consistent cuisine; BYO; Chilean Sea Bass stands out; Very friendly service and the owners will take care of you. Grilled Calamari, Stuffed Artichoke, Stuffed Talapia, Bronzini, Veal Osso Buco, Bufalo Caprese and tons of pasta dishes. Huge assortment of specials;  They will alter any dish to fit your desires; Chef is absolutely outstanding;  Try this diamond in the rough.  

MK Valencia: American; Ridgefield Park; 228 Main St; 23/22/$48; 201-373-0228; Beautiful interior ideal for dates and romance as well as fun & classy night out;  Full bar- pricy mixed drinks;  NYC vibe; Happy hour specials at bar; Smoked Salmon, Lobster Salad, Lots of pasta dishes, Pan Seared Bass, Tuna, Duck, Short Ribs, Hanger Steak, Osso Bucco, & raw bar.  Great menu for anyone.  Worth the splurge; Brunch served.  Very cool spot.
A ManoItalian; Ridgewood; 24 Franklin Av @ Chestnut; 22/19/$31; 201-493-2000; Very attractive and date-friendly pizzeria that serves other basic Italian specialties. Wood burning oven; 30 foot high ceilings;  BYO; Salads and paninis also stand out. Ideal for weekend lunch. On your first visit – get the Margharita Pizza or A Mano Pizza (Buff Mozz & cherry tomatoes); One issue – service usually poor.  
Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Pizzeria: Italian; Ridgewood; 15 Oak St @ Ridgewood Av; 25/12/$20; 201-493-7600; No slices served; BYO except Hackensack location which has beer/ wine; Fresher than fresh coal over pizza; Truly melt in your mouth pizza; Crust is beyond outstanding. Plenty of tables and it’s ideal for a heavenly lunch. 

Café 37: New American; Ridgewood; 37 S Broad St; 24/21/$47; 201-857-0437; Foodies rejoice here at former Latour chef’s new date-friendly, mature restaurant; Dishes include Ahi Tuna, Pan Seared Salmon, Diver Scallops, Pork tenderloin, Grilled Australian Lamb chops, Short Ribs.  BYO policy. Beautiful looking place; Smallish portions and not inexpensive.  To me it’s a worthwhile adventure. Fresh Buff Mozz. 


Dim Sum DynastyChinese; Ridgewood; 75 Franklin Av; 20/15/$28; 201-652-0686; Cantonese BYO; Hong-Kong style Dim Sum on weekends; Push carts and all; While not Chinatown, great for area; Clean, pleasant setting; Strong service and always a quality meal. Ideal for lunch and obviously Dim Sum. Won’t blow you away but a nice sit-down option for the genre.  Starts 11am weekends.

Diwani: Indian; Ridgewood; 47 E Ridgewood Av; 22/17/$35; 201-445-6060; Fun new Indian with amazing curries. Bollywood movies playing on a flat screen entertains you. BYO; Weekend buffet 12-3pm; Place has improved after a poor start in 2013;  Give them a shot for lunch;  Giant menu with lots of curries and they are proud of their Tandoori dishes; 

Kailash: Indian; Ridgewood; 22 Oak St @ Franklin; 21/16/$29; 201-251-9693; Known for excellent Naan and Chicken Tikki Masala; BYO; Lunch buffet available; Website is lacking – shows a somewhat limited menu – or perhaps their menu is indeed quite limited. Not yet been here but on the list to try. Fans of spicy food rave. Calming vibe.  Good service. Garlic Naan to die for.

La Lanterna: Italian;  Ridgewood; 29 W Ridgewood Av; 21/19/$40; 201-444-5520; Try the Carbonara or the Scallops with Risotto;  Family run BYO Italian; Great service; Outdoor seating in summer; Closed Monday; Cute, welcoming scene; It does have a fairly limited menu but with Italian you can always find something; Run by Ridgewood locals. 

Latour: French; Ridgewood; 6 E Ridgewood Av; 27/22/$56; 201-445-5056; Classic French showstopping cuisine; BYO; Chef-owner Michael Latour will spoil you; Closed Monday; Spacious, elegant, tasteful lay out; Seafood Risotto; Menu for everyone. Best vibe here. Go with Prix Fixe if you can. The menu changes seasonally; Expertly presented. Romantic setting; Superb service. Best in foodie-haven Ridgewood. 201 Mag Best French 2x. Perfect service; Pricy but you won’t care. 
Lisa’s Mediterranean Kitchen: Turkish; Ridgewood; 28 Oak St; 21/20/$37; 201-251-8686; Belly dancing on Thursdays bring energy to this friendly, high quality Turkish restaurant; Mixed Grill is excellent;  BYO; Authentic cooking and ingredients. Extremely friendly service; Great effort made here. Massive menu with tons of seafood, kebabs etc. Order 4-5 appetizers instead! Mixed Appetizer plate, Homemade Manti (dumplings) are way to go. Whole Bronzino;
Mediterraneo’s: Mediterranean; Ridgewood; 23 N Broad St; 22/18/$42; 201-447-0022; Reliable regional fare; Great outdoor seating in the spring and summer; Phyllo rolls, Falafel, Lamb dishes delish; Cuisine influenced by Greece and Turkey; BYO; Located in a ‘cute’ welcoming street in always nice Ridgewood. Offer 3 menus- daily tapas specials, 1 for fresh fish & 1 for featured entrees. Bronzino & Paellas stand out. 201 Mag Best Med. 

Mekong Grill: Vietnamese; Ridgewood; 24 Chestnus St; 22/16/$28; 201-445-0011; Authentic southern Vietnamese that will win you over; Delicious Pho soups and other noodle soups – over a dozen to choose from;  Endless appetizers and larger entrée choices; Comfortable, contemporary space; Lunch and dinner served but closed Mondays. Family run. BYO; 201 Mag Top 3 Viet. Sticky Rice entrée.   


Melting Pot: Fondue; Ridgewood; 100 Sinatra Drive @ 1st St; 20/22/$48;  201-222-1440; What a fun chain restaurant perfect for dates; Choose from cheese, oil, broth, or chocolate to dip in; Try the “Big Night Out” option for $42 a person; Romantic seating available; Excellent service with fondue made at your table. Only complaint is portions could be bigger, especially the fondues. 
Park West Tavern: American; Ridgewood; 30 Oak St @ Franklin; 21/17/$45; 201-445-5400; From the management of The Park steakhouse in Park Ridge; Nice happy hour in their full bar; Great atmosphere; Steaks and meat items are the way to go; Weekend brunch; Tons of beer, wine and fun cocktail options; $25 bottles of wine; Date friendly; Not a huge menu, however.  I suggest sharing a few items off the ‘community dishes’ (apps) menu, such as Lobster or Kobe beer sliders and enjoy the bar. Chilled Seafood Platter.
Pearl Restaurant: New American; Ridgewood; 17 S Broad St @ Ridgewood; 22/20/$48; 201-857-5100; Nice ever changing menu based on what fresh ingredients available; About 15 main courses to select from – half seafood; Monkfish, Red Snapper, Salmon, Lamb, Duck, & a couple pasta items usually available; Date friendly – romantic; Open daily 5-10pm; BYO; Fairly new place that is ever improving. 3 course Prix Fixe for $25.
Ridge Thai: Thai; Ridgewood; 50 Chestnut St @ Franklin; 22/17/$32; 201-493-9929; Delicately made traditional Thai dishes; Stylish, relaxing décor; Excellent menu with a large assortment of curries, duck, chicken and noodle dishes; BYO; Won 2009 Best of Bergen award for Thai food. The usual huge menu for a Thai restaurant. Small place – 10 or so tables so come early. Great lunch specials.  Thai curries amazing.
Sakura-Bana: Japanese;  Ridgewood; 43 Franklin Av; 25/15/$37; 201-447-6525;  Outstanding sushi/ sashimi and special rolls; BYO; Fairly steep prices typical of Ridgewood; Large menu with tons of combinations to choose from; Also have hot entrees including delicious tempura. Décor is average and it can get fairly crowded. Go early or during the week. Food = Yum. Extensive traditional menu. Swimmingly fresh sushi.  
Village GreenAmerican; Ridgewood; 36 Prospect St; 25/21/$56; 201-445-2914; Small Plates; BYO; Romantic setting; This place specializes in a tasting menu- 5 courses for $60 and you get 4 items per course to choose from;  Lunch tasting is 3 courses for $20; Food is outstanding and certainly a ‘foodie’ mainstay. Smallish portions. Really cute cottage house interior – date friendly. Former Latour chef runs the place.

Babylon: Mediterranean; River Edge; 606 Kinderkamack @ Monroe; 20/16/$31; 201-646-0005; Regional fare with a Turkish slant; BYO policy; Nothing fancy but great service; Food is always consistently good and reliable; Great menu featuring Lamb shank; Kebabs; Huge combo plates and various types of hummus. Pick 4 appetizers for $16.95. Café and deli attached to property. Calamari is fried- c’mon man!  

Fuki SushiJapanese; River Edge; 828 Kinderkamack Rd; 25/13/$42; 201-225-0169; Small, family owned Sushi house; Small in size but the quality of sushi is outstanding; Extremely large selection of special rolls; Sushi swimmingly fresh and tempura top notch. It’s a BYO; Only 8 or so tables or you can sit at sushi bar; High quality sushi for sure. Try the Hamachi Dream special roll. 
Joyce Chinese Cuisine: Chinese; River Edge; 478 Kinderkamach; 22/16/$35; 201-261-8858; Lots of amazing dishes on this huge menu;  Includes Sauteed & Spicy aromatic Crab – hard or soft shell; Great Crispy Duck; Frogs Legs; Mini Riblets; Basically, what makes them great is their sauces are so flavorful;  BYO;  Open daily for lunch or dinner;  Lobster dishes; Almost an eclectic menu for genre.

Rugova: Italian;  River Edge; 259 Johnson Ave @ Rt 4; 27/20/$46; 201-880-8445; From owners of Sear in Closter;  Upscale Italian in a warm setting featuring a full, active bar scene;  Spaciously placed tables;  Outstanding service & they are willing to adjust menu items as needed; Food wise – truly excellent quality; I sampled nearly 10 menu  items – all wonderful;  Stand outs include – Chilean Sea Bass, Rigatoni Bolognese, Shrimp Arrabbiata, Tuna Tartare, Grilled Veal Chop, and Soft Shell Crabs – in season;  Large menu and always several specials which I suggest. Top notch experience guaranteed.  

Sanducci’s Trattoria: Italian; River Edge; 620 Kinderkamack; 20/17/$30; 201-599-0600; Comfortable setting, casual; Huge menu full of Italian classics;  Numerous pizzas, pastas, chicken and seafood dishes;  Probably 20 appetizers to choose from including Grilled Calamari; BYO and they serve wine as well; Private parties, take-out orders;  Even have lunch & dinner buffet dining on certain days. No Rez.

Taste of Greece: Greek; River Edge; 935 Kinderkamack Rd; 25/19/$38; Incredible reviews; Restaurant confirms grilled calamari; Known for grilled octopus, Greek classics, and grilled meat platters; Huge portions; Get the ‘any 3 dips’ appetizer; The Souvlaki and Kebob platters are delish; They of course feature Mousaka and Pastichio; Great bang for the buck. BYO; 


DD Thai Cuisine: Thai; Rochelle Park; 184 W Passaic St; 23/14/$31; 201-880-8227; Try the Drunken Noodles with chicken or shrimp or the Duck Tamarind at the authentic BYO Thai find in Rochelle Park; Various fried rice dishes or sides are incredible; SO inexpensive; Whole Red Snapper, various curries, Pad Thai.  Downside is décor which is basic and not very memorable.


Nanni: Italian; Rochelle Park; 53 W Passaic St @ Rochelle; 21/19/$41; 201-843-1250; Been around over 25 years; Old world Italian, mature crowd; Large menu full of classic standards; Good, reliable cuisine; Can eat at the bar; Seafood salad, Mozz Caprese, Smoked Salmon, Escargot, clams & mussels galore, Seafood Risotto, endless pasta offerings; Lobster tails, Osso Bucco.  Truly an endless menu.  Great wine selection. 

Café MatisseEclectic; Rutherford; 167 Park Av @ Highland; 29/27/$69; 201-935-2995; Hidden gem; Extremely romantic; 3, or 4 course meals, prix fixe- $67 or $88 a person; Outdoor dining available; Top notch décor and service; Worth the splurge and it is BYO so you save on wine. Liquor store on premises. Truly a great dining experience, Romantic. Menu selections are mouthwatering… mac n cheese with King Crab! Complex creations and best service I’ve ever had. A la carte Sun-Thurs available.

Paisano’s Restaurant: Italian; Rutherford; 132 Park Av; 22/20/$38; 201-935-5755; Favorite gathering place for locals; BYO; Back patio for summer; Very inexpensive overall; Lots of specials; Try the hot & sweet rub Rib Eye; Burrata; Bruschetta; Branzino; Endless pasta dishes; Stuffed Pork Chops; Last Thursday of every month is comedy night.

Sabor Peru: Peruvian; Rutherford; 8 Highland Cross @ Park; 23/15/$35;Locals rave about how authentic the cooking is; Hidden gem for sure; Closed Monday, Tuesday; Try one of these: numerous ceviches, seafood medley salad, one of a dozen home-made soups, or a Peruvian stir-fry which are made to order and delicious. Also have cheapo lunch specials; Noodle dishes.  
YamadaJapanese; Rutherford; 55 Park Av @ Spring; 23/14/$35; 201-460-8700; Extremely affordable special rolls- around $9-$11; Massive menu; Regular rolls and sushi a la carte is $5 or less; Extremely fresh- you may think it alive; It is BYO; Store front décor and small. Welcoming place. People are shocked at how good the sushi is; Unexpected joys; Diamond in the rough. Not fancy so best for casual night.  Great Ramen soup as well.
**Locals: Nothing qualifies yet from: River Vale; Rockleigh; Let me know!