Summer seems to be a hot time for best-of lists for Jersey food lovers. New Jersey Monthly recently published their list of Top 25 Restaurants (of which, I was disheartened to discover, I’ve only been to one … what, no Restaurant Serenade? no Rat’s?? Come on!). And the August issue of the Star-Ledger’s Inside Jersey magazine features a cover story on the state’s Food Fight for Best of NJ honors.
The article calls out the best burgers, pizza, subs, desserts, and ice cream in the state. Each category was investigated by a crack team of hungry Jerseyans who had the insanely challenging task of sampling 15 locations (pre-determined by the article editor – Mr. Munchmobile himself, Pete Genovese) in North, Central, and South Jersey in the course of one month. And guess who was one of the super-spy secret tasters on the Dessert Team …
Yes, this fearless JerseyBites editor, well trained in the art of indulgence, did my part for the sake of all those Jersey eaters & readers with a need to feed on the very best the state has to offer. I am now accepting donations for a new wardrobe, two sizes up.
The overall winner of the dessert showdown was The Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands: crazy good stuff, beautifully crafted. But nearly all the places we visited were standouts, for their creativity, sense of fun, and sugar-sweet dedication to customer service and high quality.
Pick up Inside Jersey on newsstands, or check out the article here, for the full scoop from all the teams. If you decide to follow in our tasting tracks, here are a few faves I can recommend:
The fantastic cookies at The Dessert Plate (Somerville). Chocolate chip is first-rate; Very Chocolate has fudgy center, gorgeous flavor; Oatmeal Raisin is perfect. Coconut Macaroon is really different—crisp meringue-like exterior, soft sweet coconut inside.
The house specialty Philly Fluff cake at Natale’s Summit Bakery (Summit) is light, fluffy, moist, and delicious. The blueberry version had coffee cake crumb topping and tons of fresh berries.
Sticky buns at Pretty Sweet Bakery (Haddonfield). Huge, gorgeous confections with excellent caramel, overly generous topping of pecans or raisins: chewy, moist, sticky sweet happiness!
Cupcakes at Just Desserts (Hawthorne). Chocolate Silk is close to a perfect chocolate cupcake experience, wanting only for a tad more of the excellent frosting. Bavarian Cream has fantastic balance of flavors, with subtle chocolate frosting and moist sweet cream filling. Orange Cheesecake is light, perfectly sweet and tart, with delicious candied orange peel garnish – really different & really delish.
Go forth and indulge, Biters! There’s so much out there to enjoy.
Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at email@example.com. (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)