The following may not be suitable for all readers as it may create an insatiable desire to eat, drink, be merry and explore the streets of Somerville, NJ at all hours of the day and night. That’s right, be forewarned folks, like the tale of the great Odysseus and his crew who found themselves among the lotus eaters, once you join in on the consumption of this towns culinary awesomeness you will never want to leave! To be honest it’s not just the amazing food that will hold you happily hostage but the historic architecture, the rich arts community, parades and special events will grip at your soul till you succumb to the seductions of Somerville. But after all this is a Best Foods NJ article and we are driven by FOOD so lets get to it and uncover a few of the many food based reasons why Somerville should be your next date night or your go to for entertaining out of town guests.
I like many of you enjoy staying on the sunny side of the street but once I hit the crosswalk at Division St. and Main I head south to my all time favorite breakfast spot, the Division Cafe. Mind you it does have a latin flair to the menu, so you must be in the mood for some special spice and everything nice. Gallo Pinto is my go to but they have many options for many moods. If the weather is right they have a lovely outdoor seating area on a picturesque pedestrian street reminiscent of a scene in every romantic film and is well worth a visit. Just across the way is one of the most exquisite asian fusion places I have come to know, Origin’s French Thai. They too have a Parisian style cafe seating out front just as Division Street’s other exotic neighbor, Pinoy, a Filipino restaurant with some dishes that are sure to expand your food experience. Now if you time your reservations right, these 3 gems also work as dinner theater locations when the Arts on Division team set up live music, comedy nights and even a giant outdoor screening of films through out the warmer months.
Do you Sushi? With 6 sushi joints, each unique in their own way I assure you that even the most refined Sushianado will have a hard time deciding which is the top. Sushi Palace & Kumo both have all you can eat menus all though Kumo offers a varied menu extending out of sushi and into Chinese and Thai cuisine. Yutaka is a hibachi house so be prepared for flying shrimp and fire erupting onion volcanoes. Wasabi is tastey and sleek and to me is like an upscale saki bar for MIT students. Yokahama is the “secret hole in the wall treasure” that most people avoid by judging the book by the cover. (And you know how the rest of that line goes!) Saving Shumi for last although Zagat has it ranked as a 4.5 star restaurant. I for see a Sushi lovers only review upcoming in the future! Send us your reviews if you would like to weigh in!
How about Italian? Come si dice? Alfonso’s all I can say is, “Buono”. Plus every Monday and Tuesday night they have half price entrees, outdoor cafe seating, a gluten free menu AND prosecco on tap! Just a few doors down is Central Pizza/ Venetian, truth be told they are one of the towns longest running legends as well as one of the latest spots open in town. Who doesn’t need just one more slice of pizza at 2 a.m.!? The youngest culinary cugino Cafe Picasso/Calabria Mia. They too like Central and Alfonso’s have outdoor seating on Main street but are conveniently located next to Path Liquors and are a BYOB. I think they may have planned that! Lastly, the secret Sicilian spot that often gets over looked as it’s way at the east end of town, Da Filippo Autentica Cucina. Definitely worth the trip.
Culinarily Culturally Diverse? Greek food/ Kyma, Indian/ Arusuvai, Cuban/ Martino’s, Fondue/ The Melting Pot, Irish/ Mannion’s
Where I’d entertain a Special Guest:
“The Strictly Business Guest” / Wolfgang’s as it’s an upscale chophouse with classy table service, valet parking and is a statement of wealth and abundance but all while staying within the bounds and parameters of a chain restaurant.
“The Seafoodie” / Boulevard as hard to believe as it may be that such a quality fish joint could exist this far inland, their menu is amazing. Many of their selections are found on the “approved list” by the Monterey Seafood Watch and they seem to favor locally sourced items when they can.
“The Warm Hearth” / Tapastre located in the lower level of the turn of the century building located on the corner of North Bridge and High St. is a favorite for the beer connoisseur. With a warm glow and a cozy but sleek vibe, they have all of your american favorites and more. It’s an all around great spot.
“The Conscious Consumer” / Project P.U.B (Pop Up Brewpub) found upstairs in the same building as Tapastre as it is owned by the same owner, Mike Proske and head Chef Carlton Greenawalt. Their focus is to showcase one brewery each month with a full tap take over of that breweries full line as well as pairing cocktails and entrees that stay true to their seasonal regional cuisine. Some say their menu is too advanced for the people of Somerville but I say they are helping to steer the food movement toward a conscious and sustainable future. They have partnered up with Hillsborough’s Martenette Farms and as the 2017 grow season unfolds will ensure a true farm to table experience. Also in the months to come they plan on hosting a weekly mini farmers market and CSA pick up on the porch every Tuesday June – November. Way to go Project P.U.B.!
“The Artist and the Senator” /Verve is the crema on top of Somerville’s fine dining experience. In fact I’m not even sure that it can be called just a bistro as it’s more like a living breathing piece of art. Impeccable service, tantalizing tastes and one of the leaders in craft cocktails. Much thanks to the late great N. Bryan Mack, artist, chef, bartender and alchemist. All though “Mack” has recently passed on into the spirit realm, Owner Rick St Pierre and his staff of creatives continue to wow all who come through their doors.
As best put by Levar Burton, “You don’t have to take my word for it!” Go hit the town, bring a friend, bring the family and be sure to check the DowntownSomerville.com website and get the most out of your experience!
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