Island Soul Restaurant’s ingredient sculptors cook up authentic recipes from the West Indies and American South to create a concise menu of Caribbean and soul food dishes. Dining duos or quartets can propel human food processors with a starter of fresh seafood chowder before ordering up a protein-packed entree such as Grandma’s southern-style fried chicken or curry-coconut chicken simmered with vegetables. Each main dish wields an entourage of two sides, such as collard greens, candied yams, and shrimp macaroni salad, to make stomachs so full that other meals need to book space a month in advance. Slowly baked turkey wings glisten atop pristine white plates, and Island Soul Restaurant's desserts, such as a warm brownie sundae topped with vanilla ice cream and fudge, quiet bellowing sweet teeth without the use of a soundproof mouth guard.
It would be easy to spend an entire day at Calandra's Italian Village—perusing the colorful packaged Italian imports in the market, lingering over a cup of pistachio gelato in the gelateria, and finishing off with a glass of wine in the bar. Wanderers who stroll to the left of the village stumble into Il Vecchio Cafe, where Italian tapestries adorn the walls and diners chat animatedly at wooden tabletops. Servers dart across the sunlit floors, bearing plates of homemade penne alla vodka, eggplant caprese panini, and broiled tilapia and refilling glasses of wine. A counter overlooks the kitchen, where a wood-burning oven bakes thin-crust pizzas. Wooden beams and vintage-style walls enclose the tabletops that speckle the outdoor stone deck, creating the look of a rustic Italian farm or the set of a movie where a rich businessman learns the value of friendship from a talking countryside mouse.
Considered one of New Jersey’s best kept secrets by NJ Channel 12 and celebrating its 50th anniversary, DiPaolo Bros. Bakery has helped placate Newark’s passion for fresh-baked goods since 1961. Load up on leavened loaves from a lineup that features panella ($1.85 small, $2.65 large), ciabatta ($1.99 small, $3.49 large), and French ($1.55 small, $1.99 large) and Italian rolls both round and long ($0.40). Patrons looking for traditional Italian specialties find a 40-year-old cannoli cream recipe clamoring for attention ($1.25 small, $2.25 large) and chewy pignoli cookies fresh from their pine-nut shower, a topping more palatable than honey-flavored hair gel ($16.99 per pound). Additionally, a collection of cakes ($15.99 for 7”, $99.95 for full sheet) helps to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, dental cleanings, grandma’s senior prom, or any of life’s other little pleasures.
You can see hundreds of years of international influences in the Caribbean just by looking at the menu at Caribbean Essence Sports Lounge & Restaurant. The flavors of the East are incorporated into every dish of lo mein. These flavors blend with the area's natural plethora of seafood, which results in dishes such as the hot crab fried rice and the crab sticks. While guests snack on these internationally inspired dishes, TVs broadcast sporting events to crowds sipping on beers or deciding which team's helmet to wear at their wedding.
The chefs at Solar de Minho have mastered the art of Portuguese-style rodizio, cooking slow-roasted beef and lamb, intricately seasoned with traditional spices. In the dining room, gauchos yield 3-foot skewers of sizzling beef and lamb to slice tableside. In addition to rodizio, Solar de Minho’s cooks prepare other Portuguese and Brazilian dishes, such as pork medallions seasoned with port-wine sauce or fresh herbs such as cilantro, or freshly caught lobster, flounder, and shrimp. After scraping their plates clean, diners can unwind amid the dining room’s sunny, yellow walls and hanging chandeliers by sipping a glass of wine from Portugal, Italy, or California.
A curved-glass case is the only thing that separates salivating customers from Brothers display of french and italian pastries, which include whipped-cream pies, cookies, danishes, and two sizes of cannolis. The store's fresh baked loafs of garlic, brioche, and rye bread, however, perch proudly on open racks, ready to encase sandwich meats, warm butter, or mouthwatering restaurant reviews. The intermingling smells of sweet and savory treats culled from natural, preservative-free ingredients represent a 35-year-old tradition at Brothers Quality Bakery. Custom sculpture cakes are the cherry on top of the baked goods sundae, and the Brothers Quality staff pile layers of fondant and icing upon their red velvet and chocolate masterpieces to create designs such ladybugs for birthday parties, corsets for bachelorette parties, and snowmen for holiday events.