The Jersey Bites team shares its favorite spots for dining al fresco around the Garden State. Know of a good one we didn’t include? Add it to the comments!
Porta: Asbury Park has come quite a long way from its ghost-town reputation and is now abuzz with excellent al fresco options. When it isn’t acting as a nightclub, Porta breathes its fresh, rustic romance inside and out. Their patio, aka Porta National Park, offers shaded picnic tables and a bocce court. Porta, 911 Kingsley Street, Asbury Park, 732-776-7661.
The Gables: Dine on the beautiful front porch of this Victorian Inn or on the backyard garden patio. Called an “elegant” Victorian B&B setting with a “magical” patio by Zagat and winner of the Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor, this is one spot where you do not sacrifice great food for a lovely setting. Both food and ambiance are worth the trip. Reservations recommended. The Gables, 212 Centre Street, Beach Haven, NJ, 609-492-3553.
9th Ave Pier: Enjoy a light salad or some delicious tacos with a summer cocktail at 9th Ave Pier. It’s a great place to bring family and friends after a day out on the beach when all you’re looking to do is enjoy some music while watching the day boats come in with their latest catch. 9th Ave Pier, 905 Route 35, Belmar, 732-749-3800.
Ragin’ Cajun: If you’re in the mood for some cajun flair including spicy jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo, and blackened tuna, Ragin’ Cajun is the place to go. Enjoy local bands like Billy Hector on Thursday nights while sitting outside enjoying the sunset over Shark River. Ragin’ Cajun, 1102 Route 35, Belmar 732-280-6828.
Coastal Chaos–The Waterfront Restaurant: Owners Roger and Josh Barnhard, along with Executive Chef Matt Levine, are in charge at Coastal Chaos–The Waterfront Restaurant. Located on the beautiful Metedeconk River in Brick Township, visitors will enjoy breathtaking views, while sampling some of the Jersey Shore’s finest cuisine. Coastal Chaos–The Waterfront Restaurant, 281 Princeton Ave, Brick, 732-701-3313.
Terre à Terre: At Terre à Terre, Chef Todd Villani offers a farm-to-table dining experience featuring sustainable, locally grown produce, meat, and wild seafood. Guests will enjoy their meal on a newly-opened patio featuring a vertical edible garden – a wall garden featuring a variety of herbs, edible ornamentals and small crops. Terre à Terre, 312 Hackensack Street, Carlstadt, 201-507-0500.
HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar: HAVEN’s Waterfront Patio is now open for its first season! Located 20 feet from the Hudson River with iconic NYC views, the handsome outdoor space seats 72 and features a bright red awning, boxwood border and, as the weather gets warmer, colorful flower baskets. Experience Chef Peter Larsen’s recently launched lunch service along with new spring menu offerings. HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, 2 Main Street, Edgewater Harbor, Edgewater, 201-943-1900.
Cielo Restaurant: Classic Italian-American “peasant” fare with a handsome outdoor patio featuring an active waterfall, loads of plantings and seating for 60. All in full view of Chef/Owner Anthony Pucciarello’s 300-yard long herb and vegetable garden, which he tends all summer. On Tuesday through Thursday in season, guests may enjoy Chef Pucciarello’s “Grillin’ -n- Chillin'” special: a tomato salad, straight from the garden, plus a 16 oz. steak. Cielo Restaurant, 168 Passaic Avenue, Fairfield, 973-808-1414.
Chef’s Garden at Crystal Springs Resort: This breathtaking outdoor restaurant provides guests a unique garden-to-table dining experience set amidst beautiful organic vegetables, flowers, herbs and a Kittatinny Mountains backdrop. Guests can watch as the chefs pick the ingredients from the surrounding gardens and use them to prepare their meal right in front of their eyes. Chef’s Garden at Crystal Springs Resort, 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, 973-827-5996, ext. 3.
Springs Bistro: Springs Bistro features authentic Tuscan-inspired cuisine with outdoor patio seating. Guests will enjoy fresh local ingredients presented with artistic flair. Enjoy dining with a Mexican twist at this Crystal Springs Resort casual poolside café. Enjoy a creative cocktail or tequilas from an extensive list. Springs Bistro 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, 973-827-5996, ext. 3.
Bin 14: Bin 14, Hoboken’s first and only wine bar, offers a secluded, shaded backyard where guests can enjoy Chef Anthony Pino’s modern Italian tapas and choose from more than 80 wines to sample by the glass. Bin 14, 1314 Washington Street, Hoboken, 201-963-WINE.
Pier 13: Spend the afternoon or evening overlooking the Manhattan skyline. There is one large mobile bar serving a range of beers and select wines. Food trucks like Luke’s Lobster, Pizza Vita, Amanda’s Bananas and Polka Dot Cupcake serve up food day and night. Picnic style seating is available, along with a variety of lounge furniture. Take a skyline cruise, which picks up at the pier, and enjoy the rest of your afternoon taking in boats splashing by. Pier 13, 1301 Sinatra Drive North, Hoboken.
Pilsener Haus & Biergarten: Pilsener Haus & Biergarten brings the old-world biergarten tradition to life with its communal tables and frosty mugs of premium draft and bottled craft beers – not to mention delectable sausages from the grill. Pilsener Haus & Biergarten, 15th St., btw Adams & Grand, Hoboken, 201-683-5465.
Maritime Parc: This al fresco space—with views of the marina and NYC skyline—seats 60 for à la carte dining and 30 in the bar area. It’s also available for private cocktail parties or dinners for 100 to 200 guests on Mondays and Tuesdays. Sleek heaters surrounded by planted herb beds keep guests comfy as they enjoy cocktails and various menu selections. Maritime Parc, 84 Audrey Zapp Drive, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, 201-413-0050.
Red Knot at Galloping Hill: Red Knot is a contemporary American gastropub helmed by longtime Union County resident Executive Chef Ralph Romano. Located in the Clubhouse at Galloping Hill, Red Knot’s stunning outdoor stone-and-wood patio overlooks the golf course’s 300+ pristine acres (and it’s open to the public!). Red Knot at Galloping Hill, 3 Golf Drive, Kenilworth, 908-241-2211.
Amanti Vino: Amanti Vino’s Vinoteca—Montclair’s best people-watching and imbibing spot—is open and hopping! Guests may purchase wine or beer, along with a carefully curated selection of artisanal cheese, crackers, charcuterie, paté, cookies and chocolate-covered figs. Enjoy your treats at one of 30 outdoor seats. BYO glasses/cups, or buy a sturdy, reusable GO VINO glass inside. A great way to wait for a neighborhood dinner reservation or for a movie to start. Vinoteca seating available during same hours the shop is open. Amanti Vino, 30 Church Street, Montclair, 973-509-WINE.
Raymond’s: With another location in Ridgewood, Raymond’s is a cornerstone eatery in the Montclair center area. The restaurant offers a friendly atmosphere with a retro feel. Raymond’s offers an open outdoor seating area, perfect for watching the hustle and bustle of Montclair. Raymond’s, 28 Church Street, Montclair, 973-744-9263/101 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, 201-445-5125.
Millie’s Old World Meatballs & Pizza: When the weather warms up, Millie’s raises its custom “garage-door” front window/wall to bring the outdoors in, for instant al fresco seating on Morristown’s happening South Street. It’s a great vantage point from which to enjoy the restaurant’s signature quarter-pound sirloin meatballs with vodka or marinara sauce and delectable pizzas from dueling wood- and coal-fired ovens, each with a distinctive crust, toppings and flavor profile. Millie’s Old World Meatballs & Pizza, 60 South Street, Morristown, 973-267-9616.
La Lanterna Cafe and Grill: Enjoy fine Tuscan cuisine al fresco at La Lanterna Cafe in Ridgewood. The family-owned restaurant prides itself on using fresh ingredients and local seafood. A newly renovated porch is available for diners who wish to sit outside. La Lanterna Cafe and Grill, 29 West Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood, 201-444-5520.
Café Matisse: Guests can enjoy splendid garden seating for dining under the stars. Along with the garden area, Matisse also has a dining room and wine shop in the front of the restaurant. Reservations for outdoor dining must be made by calling the restaurant in advance. Café Matisse, 167 Park Avenue, Rutherford, 201-935-2995.
Stage House Tavern: The sprawling wooden patio and unmatched conviviality make Stage House feel like your own backyard. Best of all, Stage House stacks its weekly calendar with ridiculous specials: endless ravioli Mondays, martini Tuesdays, and through Labor Day, free BBQ on the patio. You can’t even get that on your own patio! Stage House Tavern, 1719 Amwell Road, Somerset, 732-837-3990.
The Tiki Bar at Minerals Resort & Spa: Another branch of Crystal Springs, the relaxed atmosphere of the tiki bar can be enjoyed over a burger, sandwich or traditional smoked BBQ food. Fun and refreshing cocktails are served in standard size and in fun fish-bowl sized glasses, enough to quench the thirst of up to four guests. The Tiki Bar at Minerals Resort & Spa, 2 Chamonix Drive & Route 94, Vernon. 973-827-5996, ext. 3.
Luna’s Outdoor Bar & Grille: Enjoy traditional American fare on Luna’s outdoor covered patio. Nightly specials, drinks, seafood, and more. The bar and grille also hosts live music Friday and Saturday nights. Family-friendly atmosphere. Luna’s Outdoor Bar & Grille, at Merighi’s Savoy Inn, 4940 E. Landis Avenue, Vineland, 856-691-8051.
McLoone’s Boathouse: Situated on the banks of the Orange Reservoir within the South Mountain Recreation Complex (tight next to the Turtle Back Zoo), McLoone’s Boathouse offers some of the best views in the area, along with an elegant menu. The patio section of the boathouse offers a beautiful view of the water along with a fire pit. McLoone’s Boathouse, 9 Cherry Lane, West Orange, 862-252-7108.
The Ryland Inn: Dine on some of New Jersey’s most inventive dishes, prepared by Executive Chef Craig Politano in a peaceful and spectacular setting on the patio at The Ryland Inn. The dining area is flanked by a grand fireplace and offers an outdoor bar convenient for a quick before-dinner cocktail. The Ryland Inn, 115 Old Highway 28, Whitehouse Station, 908-534-4011.