The versatile kitchens at Castalia 997 Restaurant & Lounge whip up an array of Italian dishes to lure patrons to the restaurant’s dining tables, full bar, and live music. Sizzling seafood entrees come grilled or pan-seared, and fork-tangling pasta dishes can be customized with gluten-free or whole-wheat noodles. Live entertainment livens up the atmosphere on Friday and Saturday nights, filling the air with classic tunes from an era before cell phones and time-traveling assassins.
If most people decided their career path as children, we would be overrun with unemployed wizards, quarterbacks, and pony firefighters. But for Rosario Domicoli, the restaurant industry beckoned at age 13. In the years that followed, he's opened a few restaurants of his own. His latest is the eponymous Domicoli's Ristorante & Lounge, a Southern-style Italian eatery with a robust menu of pastas, steaks, chicken, and veal dishes.
In the dining room, ornate mirrors line the walls, curved at the top to resemble arched door frames. Throughout the week, specials honor members of the community, such as servicemen and women, teachers, and costumed superheroes. Friday nights host performances from the likes of saxophonist Hunter Hayes, and Saturday nights feature jubilant karaoke sessions.
The cooks in Hillery Street Restaurant & Grill’s kitchen know how to multitask. From dawn ‘til tusk, they are kept busy flipping fluffy pancakes, layering classic deli sandwiches, and topping pastas in rich sauces from the eatery’s impressively large menu. After biting into one of 20 types of omelets, Philly cheese steaks, or 13 burgers, patrons can savor some nostalgia by perusing the malt-shop menu and choosing from ice cream sodas and banana splits.
Chef and owner Maurice Gallo brings more than 30 years of experience to Carnevale Ristorante, where dishes flourish with classic flavors culled from the gustatory traditions of both northern and southern Italy. Glass art and décor inspired by the colorful Carnival of Venice surround white tablecloths that cover the tables under which hide the best hide-and-go-seek players from Florence. Local New Jersey wines join customer-toted libations in the BYOB eatery, where live music sprinkles freshly harvested, mellifluous notes onto forks every weekend. Gourmet dishes, such as veal in cognac sauce and truffle-oil-drizzled mushrooms and brie, team up with gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta options to please even persnickety palates.
Old World traditions meet New World sensibilities at Fresco Greek Tavern. Although the chefs stick to Greek flavors by charcoal grilling everything from chopped sirloin to chicken and by crafting iconic appetizers such as hummus and dolmades, they experiment a bit more with the falafel platters. Several of the platters are inspired by the flavors of countries from all seven hemispheres. Examples can include the Italian-inspired falafels in a bed of pesto sauce as well as Japanese-inspired falafels with wasabi-spiked mayonnaise and ginger dressing. With its cerulean-blue ceiling, gilt-framed mirrors, and tables draped in crisp white linens, Fresco Greek Tavern’s dining room embraces a classical aesthetic worthy of the Parthenon.
With a crêpe-centric menu, Kafe Neo expands on the repertoire of the typical café kitchen with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack-time fare. During each visit, diners can look on as crêpes ($2.99–$8.99 each) are cooked to order in a pan, flattened over a copy of the French Constitution, and filled with signature combinations of more than 70 different meat, vegetable, cheese, and fruit fillings. After coffee beans are carefully put through the antique roasters at nearby Dallis Bros. Coffee, they're ground up and brewed onsite to make café mochas ($4.49), lattes ($3.99), and classic cups of joe ($2.49 with refills). Whether you're eyeing something savory, sweet, or simply not caught on fire, the restaurant also serves fresh paninis, omelets, and french toast.