Chevys serves up Mexican fare in Texas-size portions, with salsa and tortillas made from scratch daily. Begin by ordering a bowl of guacamole to witness a server capture, skin, and gut a live avocado right at your table before hand-mashing it into fresh guacamole. From there, let your taste buds tango across tender tamales wrapped by hand each morning, or play mad scientist and suture together an electrified monster plate from enchiladas, tacos, grilled chili rellenos, tamales, and chimichangas ($10.29 for any two, $11.99 for any three, $12.99 for any four). Seafarers, meanwhile, will want to try the grilled fish tacos—a mélange of grilled fish, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and pico de gallo, warmly embraced by the floury flaps of El Machino tortillas and topped with a sprinkling of crumbled cotija cheese ($10.99). To keep the hot peppers and piquant salsas from singing the sinuses, douse your mouth-flames periodically with drinks such as the Kraken fruit punch, black spiced rum coupled with spicy mango and orange juice ($8.75), or the Blue Agave margarita, a mixture of El Mayor Reposado tequila and blue Curacao ($6.75 regular, $11.50 grande).
Muscle Maker Grill grew out of a small smoothie shop, where owner Rod Silva prepared health-conscious alternatives to fast food. The restaurant has since expanded with a menu tailored to accommodate diners with vegetarian, carb-free, and gluten-free diets. The new "lighter side" menu features healthy treats that are 400 calories or less under $5.99. The crew prides themselves in creating healthy versions of popular foods, and continues to serve the shop's original protein shakes with favorites such as chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana. Additionally, Muscle Maker Grill displays the calorie count for each dish on the menu.
Amid a friendly Old-World market atmosphere, the butchers of Pulaski Meat Products smoke, slice, and link an array of Eastern European meats onsite. Hoops of Kraiana kielbasa ($4.19/lb.) spin on dinner tables or the turntables of experimental DJs, and black forest ham ($6.29/lb.) fills sandwiches with its savory, salty flavor. Frankfurters ($4.79/lb.) await the grill or frying pan, and baby back ribs ($6.59/lb.) come infused with the taste of the smokehouse. Watched over by an emblem of Poland's crowned eagle, the shop's knowledgeable employees hand out samples and help customers understand the subtle differences between Ukrainian and Hungarian kielbasa and why bologna shouldn’t be used as a pillow.
Napoli Pizza & Pasta, a recent addition to Linden’s restaurant roster, houses a team of cooks who craft traditional Italian eats, including pizzas, pastas, and specialty sandwiches. The quaint Italian bistro cultivates a relaxed ambience with linen-clad tables and dim lighting, making it an ideal place for an intimate family gathering or a romantic spaghetti-slurping contest.
Under the warm glow of crystal chandeliers in Ill Amici Ristorante’s elegant dining room, the Lavorato family adorns tabletops with expertly prepared fare from the northern and southern regions of Italy and ambrosial vino from an extensive wine list. Owner and executive chef Giovanni Lavorato began his culinary training in Italy at the age of 14, has cooked all over Europe and North America, and has racked up numerous awards, including Man of the Year in 1995 by Il Ponte Italo-Americano international cultural magazine. The recently renovated dining room charms patrons with classy Old-World decor and a deficiency of singing moose heads, and the Venetian-style lounge and spacious banquet hall provide accommodations for sophisticated revelry.
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.