Best Bites of 2013

Escape Montclair, Sweetbreads with Crispy Bone Marrow
Escape Montclair, Sweetbreads with Crispy Bone Marrow

From January to December, from North Jersey to Cape May (and everything in between), the Jersey Bites crew enjoyed a range of memorable, creative, and scrumptious dishes. Here’s a sampling of our favorite meals of the past 12 months. What were your favorite meals of the year? Let us know in the comments! And happy new year!

Sweetbreads with Crispy Bone Marrow, Escape Montclair, Montclair, Veronique Deblois

“Sweetbreads, pea purée, crispy marrow, chanterelles and grape juice. Simply an amazing dish. The sweetbreads were tender and perfectly cooked and Chef Gregg was truly gilding the lily with the addition of crispy bone marrow. The best bone marrow I’ve had.”

HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, Seafood Risotto
HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, Edgewater Seafood Risotto

Seafood Risotto, HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, Edgewater, Veronique Deblois. Seafood risotto with riso venere, lobster, sea scallops, shrimp, sea beans, sweet corn and Mmscarpone. The black rice contrasted beautifully with the rich broth and perfectly-cooked seafood.”

Fluke Crudo, The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, Veronique Deblois

The Ryland Inn, Fluke Crudo
The Ryland Inn, Fluke Crudo

“Fluke crudo, summer melons, heirloom tomatoes, garden herbs. Just the perfect summer starter with fresh, clean flavors.”

Bistro Rylo, Day Boat Scallop

Day Boat Scallop, Bistro Rylo, Oakhurst, Melissa Beveridge “Chef Ryan Lory seared the scallop perfectly. Combining a mixture of spicy seasoning, the just cooked scallop was served on top of succotash and Blue Moon foam. Such a small bundle of flavors that complement each other so well.”

Ninety Acres/The Ryland Inn, Venison tenderloin

Venison Tenderloin, Ninety Acres/The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, Deborah Smith “This amazing dish was part of a four-course Cervena Venison Luncheon at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station. This particular dish of rye, smoked tomato, Brussels sprouts and pastrami spice was created by Marty Keter of Ninety Acres.”

Cubacan, Taquitos de Marlin

Taquitos de Marlin, Cubacan, Asbury Park, Melissa Baratta “Smoked marlin, malanga, pickled jalapeno and cabbage in crunchy tortilla shells. The chilled smoked marlin is unique: it’s salty, smoky and has a great texture. That combined with the subtle heat of the jalapenos, the creamy sauce and crunchy shell makes this the perfect appetizer to a fantastic Cuban meal.”

corn chowder
Corn & Crab Chowder, Red Store, Cape May Point

Corn and Crab Chowder, The Red Store, Cape May Point, Gina Glazier

“Truly the best soup I’ve ever had! It was creamy, steamy and just seasoned perfectly. The corn was fresh as can be while the smooth base of the soup reminded me of both cashmere and silk. Simply divine! Chef Lucas Manteca has many culinary talents indeed, but this one was 100% outstanding.”

Eggplant Vegetarian Curry, A Toute Heure, Cranford, Michelle Stavrou

“An Indian-inspired dish may sound out of place at this well-renowned bistro, but this out-of-the-box entree tasted as authentic and delicious as any curry I’ve had. It also stood out as the top dish I had this year that took full advantage of the amazing summer produce this area has to offer.”

Any of the burgers at Loaded, Garwood, Michelle Stavrou


“Need to convince your vegetarian friends what they’re missing out on? Then take them to Loaded where the burgers are made from quality ingredients and topped with deliciousness like avocado, caramelized onions, and maple cured bacon. This hole in the wall is routinely packed and sells out early. If there was ever a place to plan your day around, this is it.”

Maryland Crab Cakes, FireFly “An American Bistro,” Manasquan, Melissa Yurasits Colangelo

FireFly “An American Bistro”, Maryland Crab Cakes

“The lump Maryland crab melts like butter with each bite of these crab cakes that are handmade without breadcrumbs or any unnecessary binders. Rounded out with fresh “sea side slaw” and perfectly blistered fingerling potatoes, I could eat this every day. Also entirely gluten-free!”

Fish ’n Chips, Salt, A Gastro Pub, Stanhope, Deanna Quinones 

Salt, A Gastro Pub, Fish ’n Chips
Salt, A Gastro Pub, Fish ’n Chips

“Certainly not the fanciest dish of the year, but a damn good plate of grub! This was a memorable night spent sheltering from a massive snowstorm, tucked into the warm cocoon of Salt’s laid-back, live-music atmosphere. With many seafood options to choose from, we both went for the basic Fish & Chips that departed from the usual preparation by featuring beer-battered tilapia served with malt vinegar, house-made remoulade, and a side of hand-cut fries. Washed down with a cold draft chosen from Salt’s list of more than 50 beers, this was the perfect comfort food, perfectly prepared.”

Lobster Bisque, Blue Point Grill, Princeton, Jessica Perry

“My birthday dinner at Blue Point Grill was an unforgettable series of best bites, but their divine lobster bisque really set the tone for the meal. Its rich, burnt orange color is surpassed only by its richness in flavor. The sweet, tender lobster chunks are almost inconsequential compared to the intensely flavorful stock. Luxurious and velvety with a buttery finish that is neither greasy nor filmy, but a savory device that really lets the flavor linger on your tastebuds in the most welcomed way.”

Tavern Dip, Stage House Tavern, Somerset, Jessica Perry

“I don’t know if this spot needs any introduction judging from the always-full tables, but Stage House Tavern is one of my best finds of 2013. And their tavern dip is my favorite French dip to date. Tender, thinly-sliced prime rib is bathed in au jus before being piled high onto a crusty, chewy, garlicky toasted ciabatta roll. The melted fresh mozzarella acts as a balanced binder, and when you dip the corner of the sandwich into the beefy au jus, the crusty bread maintains its crunch. A compact, almost refined version of the often-messy sandwich.”

Crossroads, Garwood, Lisa Panzariello

“This is by far my favorite hot spot in Union County. Not only is the food outstanding, fresh, and unique—the menu constantly changes, the staff is sincerely friendly, and the almost daily live music stumps even the hottest venues in New York City. The dining menu boasts Cajun favorites like crawfish éttoufée, Vooddoo Cajun shrimp, and alligator tail, but for all the late-nighters like myself, Crossroads’s bar menu runs the gamut from their insanely amazing Buffalo wings and their new, Build-Your-Own Slider menu with toppings ranging from mac ‘n cheese, pulled pork, and even frogs’ legs. Nonetheless, there is one item that is beyond satisfying, and that’s the bacon-wrapped scallops. Complete with a small bushel of spinach and red peppers, the salty-yet-buttery pockets melt in your mouth, and with a hint of lemon surfacing the dish—the flavor is jam-packed with a simply elegant appetizer. The hardest part of consuming the filling-but-light fare is choosing which one of their 60 beers would best complement the surf wonder. “