128 West State Café
240 W. State Street
Opened on January 12 across from the state Capitol, “the café gives new meaning to ‘Capitol perk,’” says co-owner Dale Florio of the eatery, which offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, bagels, and coffee and aims to provide quick, convenient, and high-quality breakfast and lunch fare to Trenton’s Capitol community.
B2 Bistro & Bar
141 Shrewsbury Avenue
Opened last June, this contemporary Mediterranean restaurant offers signature dry-aged burgers that have been ranked among the 10 Best Burgers in America by USA Today as well as an extensive array of charcuterie, cheese, wine, and draft/boutique beers hand-selected by owner Andrew Rasizer and Chef Cesare DeChellis. “Our food is of a fine-dining caliber but in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere,” shares host Michael Manzo of the restaurant’s upscale but casual style.
Francesca Gourmet Foods
1051 Main Street
Opened on December 8, this 6,000 square-foot gourmet market offers everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, and other prepared foods to gourmet ingredients such as imported oils and vinegars, packaged pastas, olives, and other artisanal products. With 8-10 staple items such as panko-crusted chicken cutlets, a rotating selection of creative menu specials prepared fresh daily, and recently-launched or soon-to-be introduced features such as an omelette station, a fresh-made mozzarella station, and a new line of homemade frozen desserts and pastas, “we provide high-level, New York City restaurant-quality food that’s easily accessible for today’s busy residents,” says Francesca Gourmet Foods owner/CEO and self-described foodie Keith Alliotts. “We offer unique options you can’t get elsewhere.”
89 Newman Springs Road
Opened on November 17, this authentic Greek fast-casual eatery represents the latest venture by brothers George, Charlie, and Taso Lyristis, whose other restaurants include Teak (Red Bank) and The Bistro at Red Bank. “We offer authentic gyros – also known as yeeros in Greek – with pork, chicken, or angus beef cooked on a spitfire and served exactly as you would enjoy them in Greece, either in a pita sandwich, over salad, or as a dinner,” says Charlie, Greek Eats’ managing partner. Other specialties at the 40-seat restaurant include bifteki, which features ground beef and lamb that can be customized with the diner’s preferred topping, from tzatziki or avocado tzatziki sauce to sriracha, Greek chimichurri, and more.
Kimchi Smoke BBQ Shack
49 W. Church Street
Officially opening in mid-January (following a soft opening at the end of December), owner Robert Cho is excited for diners to enjoy his southern Texas/Korean barbeque-inspired menu, complete with such favorites as smoked brisket, pork spareribs, and their signature ‘chonut’ – 12-hour smoked brisket, bourbon chipotle sauce, smoked kimchi, cheddar cheese, and bacon on a glazed doughnut. “There’s lots of kimchi (fermented cabbage) in the dishes and we have a very interesting menu,” says Cho. “There’s nothing like us anywhere around here.” Though primarily a take-out establishment, Kimchi Smoke offers seating for up to seven.
303 Herbert Avenue
Opened on December 12 on the renovated site of a former children’s afterschool center, this quaint French-style boulangerie features decadent pastries and breads baked fresh daily by CIA-trained and Michelin star-rated pastry chef Jonghun Won. Looking to fill a void – “there was no French bakery in this area,” shares Korean-born Won – La Tabatiere’s specialties include croissants made with French butter, passion fruit crème brioche, baguettes, and Won’s signature three-grain miso bacon bread as well as specialty Stumptown coffee.
252 Somerville Road
Opened on October 30 on the site of former farm-to-table restaurant Two Fifty Two, this cozy continental fusion restaurant offers a range of seafood, meat, and pasta dishes, many prepared and served tableside. Lumi Zi (Albanian for “Black River,” which flows near its Bedminster location) represents the newest venture for chef Roy Marin and owner Antonio Berisha, whose previous eateries included Aquila Cucina in New Providence, The Vine in Basking Ridge, and Bistro 73 in Bernardsville. Among other delicious menu items, don’t miss the eatery’s signature sweet and sour fried calamari appetizer served frites-style in a paper-lined container.
Portside Bar & Liquors
369 Route 36
Opened in mid-December on the vacant site of a former bait and tackle store, this fully-renovated new sports bar/restaurant seats 40 to 50, will launch a menu featuring burgers, wings, and other popular pub food in mid-January, and offers a “relaxed, casual, and friendly atmosphere” according to a Portside spokesperson.
Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar
220 Rowan Boulevard, Glassboro, will soon welcome this sports-themed restaurant and bar, which will represent the popular Philadelphia-based outlet’s fourth location in New Jersey and 15th overall.
The Halal Guys
This spring, East Brunswick will welcome The Halal Guys, a 26-year-old restaurant chain offering halal meats (which are specially treated and slaughtered according to Islamic law) and signature chicken, beef, falafel, and hummus platters served with its renowned white or red sauce. Set to be the first location in New Jersey and the sixth nationwide so far for the franchise, which started as a popular food truck, “our food is great for grab-and-go and customers will love our large portions and reasonable prices,” says marketing manager Mouhammed AbuAttieh.
16 Chestnut Street
In early January, this “seasonal American eclectic eatery” officially closed its doors after an over-three-year run. The announcement followed a quality of life decision by Tom Finnelli, Memoire’s hardworking owner and chef since June 2014, who desired more time with his family.
Photos are all courtesy of their respective restaurants unless otherwise noted.