Realizing the neighborhood was already buzzing with great restaurants and a nearby community theater, owner Jun Yoon knew the only way to improve on it was to add a memorable dessert destination to the equation. With his desire to be part of an enlivened community, he opened his café’s doors to serve frozen yogurt, cakes, truffles, and organic, fair-trade Counter Culture coffee. Within the 26-seat sweets shop, Jun doles out dollops of the Italian ice-cream treat called tartufo, as well as belgian waffles, crepes, salads, and sandwiches. He specifically designed the menu to make it an ideal spot for stopping in before the theater, after dinner, during lunch, or on the way to a castle storming. Jun also welcomes the community to his friendly confines for parties and private events.
Serving up Italian/American food favorites—including spaghetti and meatballs, steaks, burgers, to seafood pasta—has been Pete's Tavern's calling since 1966. One of the eatery's more popular items, however, are an Italian twist on sliders. Created in the kitchen by owner Todd Simonds after a busy night, the mini burgers combine the first three things that the hungry Simonds could find: a meatball, a mozzarella-topped garlic knot, and marinara sauce. If meatballs aren't your thing, that's OK—you can swap them for sausages, eggplant, breaded chicken, or pepperoni.
Guided by a simple mantra?"eat more tacos"?the chefs behind The Taco Truck believe in strengthening their community through neighborhood involvement and by minimizing their impact on the planet. Whether in their mobile kitchen or their brick-and-mortar locations, team members use eco-friendly practices whenever possible. Chefs, for instance, make use of organic and all-natural ingredients, and source their meats from local purveyors that don't use hormones or antibiotics. They also compost all their food waste, which, to date, has kept hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the landfill.
But all these green efforts haven't detracted from the flavor a bit. Chefs make all their salsas from scratch, then use them as the finishing touches for tacos brimming with grilled chicken, marinated pork, and braised beef. They also assemble vegetarian and gluten-free tacos, as well as quesadillas and tortas. Propelled by those hand-held meals and imported Mexican sodas, The Taco Truck has spread across the East Coast, earning recognition from BuzzFeed and Food Network and a 2014 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.
Tim “The Brew Chef” Schafer has made a name for himself by infusing upscale cuisine with beer. And while he left his eponymous flagship restaurant years ago, his culinary vision is carried on with style and precision by his former sous chef, now owner, Chef Fredy Umanzor. For many restaurants, losing their head chef and owner can be a fatal wound, but for Tim Schafer’s and Chef Fredy, it was an exciting and seamless transition that preserved the nearly 20-year-old menu while expanding the dining room to accommodate more satisfied customers. Today, Chef Fredy employs his 25 years of culinary experience to craft Tim Schafer’s signature beer-infused dishes, such as baked brie with a tropical fruit and nut-brown-ale chutney, free-range chicken in a Guinness Stout barbeque sauce, and roasted long island duckling in a honey-mustard-stout glaze. And while the menu highlights the culinary powers of beer, the restaurant is actually BYOB, allowing guests to bring in their favorite brew or wine to pair with the American nouveau dishes. So, as The Star Ledger put it in their 2006 four-star review shortly after Schafer’s departure, “Tim Schafer may no longer be heading up his former crowd-pleasing catery, but he’s left the place in more than capable hands.”
Former baseball player David Chiarolanzio fulfilled his lifelong ambition to be a business owner by opening The Grilled Cheese Factory, a panini emporium that captivates late-night snackers' hearts and Morristown Patch reporters' pens. Within the casual eatery, four varieties of bread embrace eight gooey types of cheese, including pepper jack, cheddar, fontina, and havarti. Specialty grilled-cheeses and paninis boast trimmings such as fresh tuna, grilled chicken, or barbeque pork and mac 'n' cheese, and each handheld accompanies a side of potato chips. The restaurant's grills sizzles until 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, providing sleepwalkers with a tasty alternative to gnawing on their roommate's bedpost.
Beyond Tomato Pie of Morristown's French door façade, chefs mix fresh ingredients into a menu of signature pizzas and homemade Italian favorites. For starters, diced chicken and mozzarella cheese sing a duet in lightly fried balls of arborio rice served with marinara, or a chorus of Italian cheeses, meats, peppers, and beans rattle the antipasti platter with trilling operatic arias. To complement the Grandma pie's spread of gooey cheese and tomatoes over a crisp, rectangular crust, the circular tomato pie hosts hearty tomatoes and a selection of toppings ($2 each) such as artichokes, bacon, and sweet peppers. For dessert, rich slices of Nutella pie recall the sweet flavors of Italy's chocolate mountain ranges, and a sextet of zeppoles tops balls of deep-fried dough with spackles of fine powdered sugar.