Where to eat now in N.J.: The 10 hottest restaurants for October

Where to eat now in N.J.: The 10 hottest restaurants for October

Welcome to NJ.com’s monthly feature, “Where to eat now in N.J.,” highlighting the most exciting restaurants of the moment, including places new to the scene and ones that have been here a while but are still firing on all burners. If you’d like to recommend a restaurant to be considered for a spot on a future “Where to eat now in N.J.” list, let us know in the comments section below, or e-mail: bodkinwrites@gmail.com.

THREE IN ONE: Inman Avenue in Colonia, littered with fast food restaurants, pizzerias, and take-out joints, has never been known as a bastion for culinary excellence. Three in One changes all of that. The “wok, grill and bar” combines everything you love about a Chinese restaurant, and combines it with the menu and vibe of an all-American bar and grill. You can sit down and order wonton soup, dumplings, chicken chow mein, or General Tso’s chicken while the person next to you chows down on a plate of wings, a burger with an egg and bacon on top, or seared Atlantic salmon. The menu sports a “Love of Bacon” section that includes bacon and egg-fried rice, butterfly shrimp with bacon and bacon-wrapped filet mignon on a stick. Speaking of “on a stick,” there is a section of the menu dedicated to skewered dishes such as shrimp, steak and chicken kabobs. On Tuesday and Wednesday Three in One does a full Chinese take-out menu. 616 Inman Avenue, Colonia. 732-382-7868.

Giant Bavarian pretzels with mustard and liptauer, a seasoned cheese spread, at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten in Hoboken. 

PILSENER HAUS AND BIERGARTEN: You cannot talk about food in the month of October without bringing up Oktoberfest. The Pilsener Haus in Hoboken (the sister restaurant of the Asbury Festhalle) is celebrating its fifth Oktoberfest with a number of special events and a handcrafted menu (available until Oct. 23) by chef Martin Schaub. The menu includes roast suckling pig, Schweinsaxen (roasted pork shank for two), wurst salad made with bier sausage and Emmentaler cheese, and cream of cauliflower soup. You can also get your Bavarian on by chowing down on Mitteleuropean dishes off the everyday menu such as Hungarian beef goulash ($17), sauerbraten ($19), or smoked kielbasa ($11). For those looking to just hoist a stein and not take a chance on Austro-Hungarian fare, there’s plenty of burgers, steaks and seafood as well. 1422 Grand Street, Hoboken. 201-683-5465.

THE LOVIN’ OVEN: The Lovin’ Oven is one of the “don’t judge a book by its cover” restaurants. On its surface, the Oven seems like a quaint family-style restaurant that’s simply meat and potatoes. But if you dive into the menu, you’ll find outside-the-box thinking combined with down-home comfort food and mouthwatering desserts made on premises. Take breakfast for example — you can get your classic pancakes ($11-$12), but you can also find New Orleans shrimp and grits ($12.50). Throughout the day you can find delectable dishes such as roasted spiced chickpea tacos ($13), a local cheese board ($15), eggplant caponata ($18), and, from the weekend farm-to-table menu, lobster pot pie ($28) or a fresh fig salad ($12). The menu here does change with the season, so keep checking for updates and tweaks. 62 Trenton Ave, Frenchtown. 908-996-7714.

RED, WHITE & QUE SMOKEHOUSE: Red, White, and Que Smokehouse has received a tremendous accolades in 2016. In May we named it one of the top 10 best barbecue houses in New Jersey, and last month the popular food/travel/drink website Thrillist, named Red, White, and Que the best barbecue joint in the entire state. Owned and operated by a former Marine, the restaurant prides itself on “represent[ing] a rebellious spirit while still holding fast to old school American traditions.” The menu sports an array of succulent delights — Carolina pulled pork ($5-$18), St. Louis-cut ribs ($8-$16) and the “BBQ Sundae” ($12), in which the meat of your choice is heaped atop baked beans and topped with coleslaw and pickles, all served in a Mason jar. 266 Davis Ave, Kearny. 201-998-2271.

ROMANO’S DISCO FRIES: Go to any event in New Jersey, and you’re bound to find a food truck. The sheer number of trucks in this state is mind-boggling, but it’s also pretty awesome. Why? Because it allows for trucks such as Romano’s Disco Fries to exist. The truck’s motto is “It’s a Jersey Thing,” and that couldn’t be more accurate. Cheese and gravy-smothered French fries are inherently a Jersey thing, but the food truck offers intriguing variations, such as Buffalo chicken fries and meatball parm fries. The truck also serves corn fritters, nachos, pulled pork and fish tacos. 732-477-1564.

The mushroom stack at the newly relaunched Morris Tap & Grill in Randolph.  

MORRIS TAP AND GRILL: This month, chef Eric LeVine’s Morris Tap and Grill relaunched the restaurant with the unveiling of a brand new bar area with 50 beers on tap. The relaunch also includes the rollout of a new street food-inspired menu, including a variety of mac and cheese bowls, sweet and spicy duck legs, pork sticks with ginger scallion glaze, soup buns, and cheddar beer dip with pretzel chips. Outside of the additions, the menu sports “rustic pizzettas” ($12-$14), an eclectic burger menu ($12.50-$17), and entrees such as chicken roulade ($18), lobster ravioli ($18), and BBQ ribs ($26). 500 State Route 10, Randolph. 973-891-1776.

SURF TACO: The mantra of “good food, good vibes, and good people” sojourns north, as the legendary Jersey Shore taco restaurant comes to Rutgers University. Surf Taco New Brunswick (the restaurant’s first non-Shore location) opened in September at The Yard on College Avenue. The Yard is a sprawling residential and commercial space that also sports a 25,000-square-foot public green space that broadcasts Rutgers sports on a Jumbotron. Alumni will remember this location as the home of the Grease Trucks. You can find all the Surf Taco favorites, including the Buffalo Soldier (breaded chicken smothered in spicy Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing) and the Aloha Wrap (teriyaki chicken, sesame seeds, pineapple, jack and cheddar). 97 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick. 732-214-0528.

NOCE 77 RISTORANTE: Montclair is an oasis of culinary excellence, with offerings that span the globe.Yet with all these choices, sometimes you really just want a great, classic red sauce dinner, the kind you could find at an Italian grandmother’s house on a Sunday. Noce 77 is a purveyor of this type of classic Italian comfort food. But don’t let the “classic” nature of their cuisine fool you — everything prepared here is done at the absolute highest level. Highlights of the menu include  homemade meatballs over a creamy risotto ($13), house pappardelle with lamb Bolognese and melted goat cheese ($21), lobster ravioli with shrimp ($24), and capellini di mare with shrimp, mussels, calamari, and crabmeat ($24). 77 Walnut St, Montclair. 973-233-1019.

MCLOONE’S RUM RUNNER: For 25 years McLoone’s Rum Runner was a landmark Jersey Shore establishment. It was a restaurant, a nightspot and a popular wedding venue. Sadly, during Hurricane Sandy the Rum Runner was severely damaged and forced to shut its doors for nearly four years. This summer, the Rum Runner made its glorious return to the Shore dining scene. From a visual standpoint, throw out everything you remember about the old restaurant, because what has been erected in its stead is one of the most impressive new restaurants in the region. The menu here is classic McLoone’s — small plates featuring crab cakes ($14.50) and fish tacos ($17) and large plates such as bronzed swordfish ($28), a flat iron steak ($27.50) and local sea scallops ($29.95). 816 Ocean Ave, Sea Bright. 732-842-2894.

RED STORE: The Red Store may look like a general store ripped from the pages of the history books, but it’s actually a multi-faceted eatery owned and helmed by James Beard nominee Lucas Manteca. Manteca has taken notes from his South American heritage and fused it with the traditional style of American restaurant one could find in a shore town such as Cape May Point. His menu (which is updated seasonally) currently includes Barnegat scallops ($31), monkfish ($32), Green Goddess empanadas ($9), and fluke crudo ($16). There’s also a brunch menu where you can grab the traditional omelette ($11-$18) or go for something more unusual, such as the Red Store pancake (crab, corn, roasted poblano pepper and feta cheese pancakes with arugula, crème fraiche and bacon, $15) 500 Cape May Point, Cape May Point. 609-884-5757.

Bill Bodkin can be reached at bodkinwrites@gmail.com. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.

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Published at Fri, 07 Oct 2016 16:00:00 +0000