Exploring New Jersey: Ridgewood

Where else can you swim in a man-made beach during the day and dine in the former First National Bank and Trust Building at night?

Sitting just 20 miles out of midtown Manhattan is this magical town of Ridgewood, NJ. Ridgewood is a town that speaks to foodies, history buffs and families from all over New Jersey!

Whatever your favorite cuisine, Ridgewood has a great option for you. Sushi lovers can take advantage of the all-you-can-eat menu at Sushi X or visit Shumi for an upscale “Omakase” tasting menu experience. On pizza Fridays, you can grab a delicious slice at Santoni’s or visit S. Egidio for a brick oven Neapolitan pizza. Carnivores can indulge in a Porterhouse at Roots Steakhouse and a block over, vegetarians can have their fix at Green Fusion. Ridgewood’s culturally diverse cuisine also includes Mexican, Thai, French, Mediterranean, Indian and Korean just to name a few. The best part about Ridgewood is most restaurants are BYOB! Picking a favorite restaurant in Ridgewood is impossible because I have one for each mood I am in, but I will highlight a few.

Village Green

Built in 1930, this building was several things including a pet shop, real estate office and bank before becoming the Village Green. This cozy BYOB restaurant off of Ridgewood Avenue manages to keep the beauty of its historical building and is now home to one of the best tasting menus I have ever had in New Jersey.  A 5 course tasting menu allows you to try some of their best dishes including peking duck tacos, tuna tiraditos, and shrimp bourree. Their seasonal menu is always changing and offers flavorful dishes from local farms all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I have been to this restaurant on date nights with my husband and for group events, never leaving disappointed.

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Finca/Cravings

Offering Spanish style tapas or “small plates,” Finca is located across from the train station in the heart of downtown Ridgewood. The menu is meant to be shared and the BYOB option makes it the perfect night out with family and friends. On summer Fridays, you can catch live music performances right outside of Finca from Ridgewood’s “Music in the Night” program. Located on the other side of the train tracks is their sister restaurant, Cravings, for double the tapas fun!

Felina

Felina, set in the former First National Bank and Trust Building, is my favorite restaurant to bring out of town guests. You can enjoy a dirty martini under the floating round lights at the bar while you watch Chef Anthony Bucco work his magic in the open kitchen. The Italian inspired menu and art deco architecture are really something to swoon over. Along with the a-la-carte dining room, the former bank has a large private event space with tall marble columns and antique fixtures and uses the original bank vault for smaller private dining. Felina also plans to open Ridgewood’s first ever rooftop bar in the near future?  

Fourth of July Celebration

Throughout the year Ridgewood has several family friendly events and festivals, but my favorite has to be the Ridgewood Fourth of July Celebration. This celebration is organized by the Ridgewood Fourth of July Committee which is a volunteer group formed in 1910. The day begins with a flag raising at Wilsey Square, followed by a rain or shine parade and concludes with an evening of local food trucks, live entertainment and you guessed it, fireworks! Walking toward Veteran’s Field for the evening celebrations,  you will see the surrounding houses hosting Fourth of July parties in their backyards. In the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, you will find tied up chairs lining the sidewalk  where parade-goers secure the perfect spot to watch the parade. I will never forget the first time I saw the chairs thinking “aren’t they afraid someone will take them?”  But the honor system goes a long way for this Ridgewood tradition.  

Before my food obsession began, the fitness studios, spas and shopping are what put Ridgewood on the map for me (RIP Gypsy Warrior). Still, many of my Sundays are spent with a killer CoreFire class followed by a delicious acai bowl at Playa Bowls for recovery.  My favorite way to end the day is with a relaxing facial at Flora’s Cottage. Whatever brings you to Ridgewood, I know you will leave having fallen in love with the town. When planning your next trip, visit @helloridgewood_ to see some of my favorite places and happenings around town. 

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