Chef Tracie Orsi put in years of service in the resort circuit and culinary industry, taking verbal abuse from irate chefs, working under unskilled cooks, and—the final straw—nearly taking a steak sandwich to the face. After discovering the rich flavors and deep-rooted traditions of Cajun cuisine, Tracie decided to run a kitchen her way, cutting up with her friends as she crafts authentic feasts of stew, seafood, pasta, and chicken infused with the rich spices and seasonings of southern Louisiana.
She dices up fresh veggies and jumbo shrimp and sprinkles them throughout a spice-laden array of étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya. Mouths warm up with tender morsels of alligator sausage and spoons swan dive off noses and breach a layer of gruyère cheese before plunging into onion soup. Broccoli, carrots, and squash soak up spicy tomato stew in the veggie creole, and the chicken and shrimp étouffées smother chunks of meat with spicy brown gravy. For dessert, dining companions make telepathic arguments for who should get the bigger halves of bananas-foster and pecan-pie servings. While diners partake, live blues and jazz bands inspire them to pop the corks of BYOB bottles along with the basslines five nights per week.
Restaurateur Tim McLoone has left his mark all over the culinary maps of New Jersey and Maryland with his numerous gourmet grills, which distinguish themselves from one another with unique menus and ambiances that hew to the same level of upscale elegance. Most of Tim’s restaurants set a lovely spread for Sunday brunch with made-to-order omelets, waffles, and a carving station with plump, tender hams. The network of eateries regularly lures hungry passersby during the evening with the aroma of grilled steaks and seafood, and a winning lotto ticket attached to a fishing line. Select locations are also visited by nightly entertainment. The decor at each dining hall is inspired by its surroundings: naval themes prevail at the coastal locations in National Harbor, Sea Bright, and Long Branch, while McLoone’s racing-themed restaurants are located within the off-track facilities in Fords and Bayonne.
At Dewilla's - The Place To Eat, trickles from a working waterfall help create a serene atmosphere, which is reinforced by a whimsical metal fish sculpture, decorative berry brambles, and the buttery glow of modern hanging lights. If it wasn’t clear from these decorative flourishes, owner Dewilla Goldate is no first-timer. She owned a successful coffeehouse and a pottery studio. She is also an avid photographer—pictures of her grandchildren adorn her restaurant's party room, which will soon house her own artwork, as well. But even with Dewilla's keen sense of design, it's the food that keeps regulars coming back. Her brunch and lunch fare bends heavily toward California-inspired cuisine, spotlighting the freshest fruits and veggies available. White paper crisscrosses the black tablecloths providing a backdrop for sweet and savory crepes, and sandwiches and paninis loaded with lean meats, imported cheeses, and crisp produce. Since the eatery is BYOB, patrons can indulge in these bright flavors while sipping their favorite wine or analyzing the complex potpourri of an aged Capri Sun.
With accolades such as being dubbed the Best Irish Bar in New Jersey in 2010 by NJ.com, you'd expect St. Stephen's Green Publick House to be authentic—and you wouldn't be disappointed. The owners named their traditional pub for the famous St. Stephen's Green park in Dublin. After setting up shop inside a converted, vintage butter-yellow house, they cemented this focus on Irish cultural heritage by installing ample dark wood paneling, hanging old photographs and beer signs, and requiring the serving staff to only respond to questions with Oscar Wilde quips. This authenticity isn't lost on the cuisine: chefs prepare traditional foods ranging from roast beef sandwiches to Guinness beef stew and shepherd's pie. These traditional eats are also served alongside more original fare, including Irish cider-glazed salmon and pan-seared chicken in whiskey sauce. Events such as live music and trivia help keep the dimly lit pub lively four nights a week.
To get an idea of what Chocobeanz serves, take a glance at the bakery's purple walls; words such as "cookies" and "lemon tarts" are painted there in rounded white script. Alternatively, you could just glance into the glass display case where bakers arrange the treats after making them from scratch. Savory snacks are available too: chicken pot pies, snack wraps, and create-your-own sandwiches and salads are a few specialties. Pair your meal with a coffee, chocolate smoothie, or a smoothie made from fresh fruits, flaxseed, and other healthy components.