When his daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, Jeff Robbins did what any parent would do. He started a bakery. Robbins, a market-research consultant, teamed up with a friend with a background in the hospitality industry and a decorated chef with 30 years of experience, and the trio spent three years breaking the code on how to make delicious gluten-free cookies that his daughter and other kids in her situation could enjoy. Their bakery opened in January of 2011, when they lit their oven with a ceremonial gluten-free torch, and within a year, Get Fresh Bakehouse's creations were lauded as the best gluten-free chocolate-chip cookies by Oprah.com. The facilities maintain 100% gluten-free standards, using certified ingredients and rigorously tested products to make their cookies and treats.
Holidays, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays—name an occasion, and chances are, David’s Cookies has a treat to match. The company has helped its customers celebrate special moments since 1979, when founder David Liederman opened the first David’s Cookies shop in Manhattan. By the mid 1980s, David’s Cookies had become an international presence, with more than 250 shops around the world doling out fresh batches of cookies, brownies, cheesecakes, and other baked goods. Instead of promoting a chocolate chip cookie to the United Nations, the company maintains that global reach via the web, where visitors can browse David’s vast inventory by the types of treats they want or the type of occasion they’re celebrating.
Within its dozens of locations across the country, YoFresh Yogurt Cafe offers all-natural frozen yogurt and a range of toppings including sprinkles, fruits, and other treats. Their health-friendly yogurt is packed with probiotics that promote digestive health, and is low in fat and free from cholesterol. Pretzel or cookie cones embrace yogurts in flavors such as carrot cake, peppermint, and peach, many of which are gluten-free, and all of which are made without artificial sweeteners. Scores of toppings crown each cone, including coconut, blackberries, peanut butter cups, and Cocoa Puffs.
Mara's Cafe & Bakery began as a humble mom-and-pop operation in 1984, the shared vision of Mara Magley and her husband, Glenn. Mara developed many of the café's proprietary dessert recipes, which are rooted in family traditions and feature fresh ingredients such as pure bourbon vanilla and Philadelphia cream cheese. Glenn, on the other hand, set about creating a signature line of coffee products. A java aficionado, Glenn chose state-of-the-art equipment—Fresh Roast Systems technology—to roast blends and single-origin beans from Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Guatemala. The advanced machine elicits the optimal flavor from each batch of beans by allowing baristas to adjust the roasting time, temperature, and volume of the "It's Time for the Percolator" remix playing in the background.
In 2004, sons Ian and Devan joined the family business and helped expand the menu to include items such as sandwiches, salads, and wraps. The team's hard work and commitment to quality ingredients has earned the restaurant numerous awards: in 2012 alone, it was named the Best Coffee Shop in Morris/Essex Health & Life magazine's Readers' Choice Awards, one of the Best Coffeehouses in New Jersey by readers of New Jersey Monthly magazine, and one of the Best Bakeries in the Daily Record's Best of Morris County Readers’ Choice Awards.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
After more than a decade following different paths in the restaurant industry, friends Donny Giordano and Pellegrino Mongillo merged their culinary passions into Pellegrino's Restaurant & Lounge. In the kitchen, chef Mongillo—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—and his staff combine fresh, seasonal ingredients into dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy. Fresh seafood crops up in the octopus bruschetta and the scallop-, shrimp-, and mussel-flecked orzo. Other offerings include seared hangar steak with provolone and cavatelli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken.
In the main dining space, servers glide across tiled floors to wood tables set under arched doorways. Behind a granite bar, bartenders mix specialty flavored martinis and pour a range of international wines.
New Jersey Monthly’s runner up for Best Coffeehouse, The Fine Grind recharges caffeine-powered batteries with a menu of delicious drinks and treats. Customers can plug their keister into a couch and wait for the friendly cadre of coffee slingers to whip up a cappuccino ($2.95, small) or a yerba maté latte laced with cardamom, vanilla, and cloves ($3.80, medium). The Fine Grind defies the laws of physics with the customer-favorite froho, a frozen hot chocolate blendesso concoction ($4.25).