When Jon Lidz left his career as an army officer some 25 years ago, he had dreams of opening a restaurant. Although he took a few detours—working everywhere from Wall Street to the button-making business—he still daydreamed about a place where friends and neighbors could enjoy fresh food in a casual, comfortable setting. So with the encouragement of friends and family, he opened Little Shanty, where he created a menu starting with his grandmother’s Southern-style, hand-cut french fries, plus burgers, Chicago-style hotdogs, and shakes.
Little Shanty’s casual interior brings to mind an auto repair shop—complete with aluminum siding, exposed brick walls, and booths sidled next to windowed garage doors. The kitchen resides on the other side of these doors, allowing diners to avidly watch as cooks assemble burgers or drag race pickles.
With locations in six states, 16 Handles is carving out a delicious space for itself in the self-serve frozen-yogurt world. In addition to rewarding customers’ cravings with a rotating daily selection of 16 flavors—each packed with protein, probiotics, and calcium—the healthy-dessert emporium sets itself apart from its competitors through its eco-friendly practices. 16 Handles not only arms its patrons with biodegradable cups and spoons crafted from cornstarch, but it also works with Trees for the Future, an organization that assists global communities in growing trees for agriculture, food, and animal habitat. Through their partnership, 16 Handles has planted 91,284 trees so far, one-quarter of which grow frozen yogurt instead of leaves.
Sizzling steaks, fine cocktails, and a pyrotechnic performance all come together at Shogun 22, one of Green Brook's favorite Japanese steakhouses since 1983. Served with dramatic flair?as well as literal flares?hibachi entrees like filet mignon, tilapia, and scallops are prepared on a tabletop grill by a showboating chef. They come sandwiched between a shrimp appetizer, grilled veggies, and a frosty bowl of ice cream. The kitchen is in charge of other rib-sticking dishes, like miso-drizzled salmon, crunchy shrimp tempura, and chicken katsu, while the sushi bar composes dozens of specialty rolls. Extend the creative flourishes to your drinks by downing a domestic or imported beer or an exotic beverage such as the ginger martini or the plum wine.
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 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.
The quaint bakery of Il Sogno Dolce caters to sweet teeth with brownies, cookies, cakes, biscotti, and other treats crafted on site. Each dessert is made in small batches to capture a homemade taste without setting bear traps under welcome mats. Cake pops ($8 for six) combine the decadence of cake with the convenience of a lollipop and are available in combinations such as carrot cake and cream-cheese frosting, german chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, and yellow cake with lemon frosting. Crunch into house-made cranberry and white chocolate biscotti ($6.99/bag), or softly sink chompers into Earl Grey fudge ($8.99/half lb.), which was infused with the namesake leaves after cracked eggs revolted against oppressive electric mixers by dumping tea bags into batter.
Under the umbrella of The Bowling Proprietors' Association of North Jersey, an eclectic group of alleys work together to fill the region with the thunder of scattering pins. At most of Bowling Proprietors' bowling centers, bowlers keep track of pummeled pins with automatic scoring, and bumpers, which arrive at the call of a button, keep balls on course without filling the gutters with retired VCRs. Snack bars at some locations bolster ravenous bowlers, and game rooms in select centers keep hand-eye coordination in peak condition. Free WiFi is available in some centers so that winners can exercise bragging rights.