For Darrin Miles, co-owner of Buffalo's Chicken Shack, barbecuing began as a hobby. Using seasonings, sauces, and rubs learned from his mother, he grilled, smoked, and deep-fried meats for his coworkers and friends during cookouts. But his occasional culinary endeavors soon became a passion. First, he built a brick and mortar smoker in his backyard. When his dreams grew beyond his fence and swimming pool of Sweet Baby Ray’s, Darrin opened Buffalo's Chicken Shack with his wife, Tiffany.
The restaurant now serves up a full menu of southern-inspired dishes, all of which earned the approval of Darrin's assembled focus group of friends and local foodies. Popular items include jumbo buffalo wings, slabs of ribs, and fried chicken, which pairs well with warm buttermilk waffles and home-style sides such as cornbread, sweet potato fries, and macaroni and cheese. Buffalo’s Chicken Shack challenges diners’ appetites for these comfort dishes during annual eating contests: in 2012, Jamie “The Bear” McDonald became the newest Buffalo King after consuming 53 spicy wings in seven minutes without belching cartoon flames.
Unlike jerk-chicken pudding or fried-tuna Twinkies, ice cream makes for a delectable dessert that properly caps off any meal. At Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream and Treatery, patrons can sample a huge menu of ice cream and other treats that are sure to slap a smile on any face and massage taste buds with sugary strokes. Try ice cream in flavor combinations such as Strawberry Skateboard with sprinkles, gummy bears, and marshmallows, or Cotton Candy Ski Jump with M&Ms and mini-marshmallows. Prices range from $3. 89+ for a cup or cone, $4.99+ for a pint, and $6.99+ for a quart. Ice-cream cupcakes ($15.95 per 6-pack) can be enjoyed with a spoon or spoon-fingers. Dream cakes ($24.95+), on the other hand, come in appropriately oneiric flavors such as Maggie's Mud and Chocolate Heaven, and are generally available in 6-inch, 8-inch, and 1/4 sheet-cake sizes. Health-conscious hedonists can indulge in strawberry-banana, creamy mango, and mocha coffee smoothies (starting at $4.95), whereas ice-cream pizzas ($24.95+) topped with white-chocolate curls will perplex pizza-party attendees before blasting away reservations with deliciousness.
Brothers Jimmy and Remy Qosja named their restaurant for the century-old Italian liqueur, a fragrant drink traditionally crafted from Femminello St. Teresa lemons. The siblings and their chefs make frequent use of limoncello in their kitchen, whether showering it over sweet Italian desserts or combining it with basil and garlic to whip up sauces. The latter seasons pasta dishes and Italian specialties such as the vetello benito veal, lauded by reporters from Eat Drink New Jersey as "scrumptious". The chefs enjoy embellishing their creations with elaborate flourishes before sending them off, topping of plates of pistachio salmon with ornate carrot flowers and decorating cakes in swirls of syrup.
Servers bear the dazzling preparations out to the dining room, where crisp linen napkins sit atop white-cloth tables. In lieu of pop songs or uncomfortable audiobook recordings of Old Yeller, soft Italian music plays over the speakers in the elegant space.
There is no freezer in the kitchen at Pearl Restaurant. Instead, chefs leave the eatery each morning to purchase ingredients from local farms and markets. That means that by the time the afternoon sun hits the shop, there is a new menu incorporating shark steaks, butternut squash, Maine crab, watermelon, and whatever else happens to be fresh. Using those seasonal ingredients and housemade pastas, chefs come up with unique dishes bound for the softly lit dining room. Past menu items have included a pear-and-goat-cheese salad, pan-roasted Boston cod, and slow-braised boneless short ribs with parmesan risotto. To eliminate the time and space between the cooking process and the diner, chefs also carefully craft most desserts right next to tables using fresh fruit and recently snared chocolate rabbits.
Though Le Bon Choix's core is that of a traditional French rotisserie and caf?, it also draws on the quintessential flavors of the American South and uses produce from New Jersey farms whenever possible. This blending of cultures is best tasted in its signature dish: local, sustainable rotisserie chicken, served golden brown in whole, half, or pulled portions. Each serving is accompanied by steaming sides of butternut squash and potatoes au gratin spooned directly from the outstretched hands of a friendly maitre d'. Rotisserie chicken is also the main ingredient in many of the sandwiches, such as the LBC, which comes topped with apple and gruyere and drizzled with ginger-peanut sauce. To add to the eatery's transatlantic feel, a coffee bar blends European-style espresso drinks and brews coffee.
A lava rock sizzles as shrimp, calamari, and scallops hit its scorching surface. From there, chefs scatter the fresh medley over organic greens?they've just created the Frutti di Mare con Verde Organico, a house specialty at La Piazza Bistro Italiano. By cooking on a lava rock, adding organic greens, and reading bedtime stories to it, chefs give the otherwise traditional dish an updated twist. The entire menu demonstrates their skill for fusing classic and contemporary with veal, fish, and chicken dishes from both ends of the spectrum.
The eatery's atmosphere leans toward traditional, at least by Italian standards. It features exposed-brick columns and Italian paintings inside, a wrought-iron fence interlaced with lights on the heated patio outside.