Hot Spots

A Dozen Dazzling Places to Say ‘I Do’

Toss out your bridal magazines. Delete those online wedding bookmarks. Tell your party planner to take a walk. This is New Jersey! If you’re in the market for an unforgettable wedding, you’re already in the right place. You just have to know where to go. I’m not talking Weird New Jersey here. On the contrary, every venue on this list lends itself wonderfully to traditional ceremonies and receptions. That being said, if you are looking for something simple, special, lo-tech or alternative, you can also count on these places to shine under virtually any circumstances. Finally, don’t fret if you’ve never heard of these nuptial hot spots. Each, in its own way, is one of the state’s best-kept wedding secrets.

The Great Outdoors
These wedding venues take advantage
of New Jersey’s awesome natural beauty.


ANIMAL MAGNETISM
Back-to-nature types love the Mountain Lake House, which offers the ultimate in seclusion and privacy just a few minutes from ritzy Nassau Street in Princeton. Don’t be surprised if Bambi and Thumper join the festivities. Wedding parties are the interlopers on this 90-acre nature preserve; the furry full-time residents merely tolerate their presence.

TAYLOR MADE
Spring and Autumn wedding dates fill up fast at the Taylor-Butler House in historic Middletown. The breathtaking Victorian-Italianate structure sits on five wooded acres and has been lovingly restored to offer eight ornate rooms in which to hold your service and reception.

FARM TEAM
When you’re talking “blast from the past,” there may be no better wedding site in the state than the 1761 Brearly House, which sits in a meadow at the end of a winding, unpaved road in Lawrenceville. The hinges hadn’t even started squeaking on this lovely Georgian brick home when the colonials started taking potshots at the redcoats. Of course, those musket balls wouldn’t have been coming from Brearly. It was a Quaker farmhouse during the Revolution.

TAKE IT TO THE BANK
Before the Cooper River joins the Delaware, it ambles past

the Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken. It serves as the launching point for some of the state’s finest crew teams. Add them to the people pulling for couples as they recite their vows on the balcony overlooking the river and the natural beauty beyond. It’s like getting married in a Monet painting.

HIGH WATER MARK
No other spot in New Jersey combines sea and sky like the Water Witch Club in Monmouth Hills (above). It offers a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean, New York City and Sandy Hook Bay, and is the highest place on the Eastern Seaboard where couples can tie the knot. Nestled in a neighborhood recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Water Witch Club Casino has been in continuous use as a gathering place for performances and celebrations longer than any other in the state.

ANCHORS AWEIGH
For pure firepower, nothing can compete with the battleship New Jersey in Camden. Launched in 1942 and converted to a museum and memorial in 2001, she is the Navy’s most decorated battleship. The New Jersey (aka BB62) has her own events staff to ensure that everything’s shipshape for the nuptials.

ON THE WATERFRONT
If you prefer New York over Philly as your river view, then you’ll want to contact the folks who run the boathouse at Hoboken’s Shipyard Marina. An emerald lawn stretches right to the water’s edge, where guests can arrive by limo, ferry or—for that cousin who still owes you money—PATH train.

Classic Charm
These wedding spots feed the need for timeless tradition

FLOWER POWER
Anyone getting hitched at Liberty Hall in Union (right) will tell you that a rose garden by any other name would not smell
as sweet. There’s just something about an outdoor wedding at this historic site—with its 23 manicured acres and breathtaking architecture—that truly transcends the mere traditional.

HOME JAMES
Catering halls may be off your radar if you’re looking for something beyond the ordinary. However, don’t be too quick
to eschew the James Ward Mansion in Westfield. While it offers the bells and whistles you’d expect from a traditional
wedding spot, it outdoes itself (and the competition) in terms of Old World elegance and sophistication. No smoked-glass
chandeliers here.

THANK HEAVEN
For most soon-to-be-marrieds, it’s an article of faith that the cost and commitment involved in the staging of a glorious
“church wedding” will come in on the steep side. Not so at the Kirkpatrick Chapel in New Brunswick (right). From the
towering candelabras to the chest-rattling pipe-organ music, it’s everything you dream of—only without the religious trappings or the big price tag.

Artful Dodges
A great way to avoid the obvious is to embrace
the creative side of the wedding equation

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
Looking to class up the in-laws on the big day? Look no further than the Newark Museum, which offers three different venues boasting priceless paintings and sculpture. You deliver the guests and the elegant Engelhard Court, the plush Ballantine House and the beautiful Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden supply the cultured surroundings.

WORK OF ART
Bringing form to your function is a specialty of the Grounds for Sculpture, located at the Seward Johnson Center for the
Arts in Hamilton. A favorite spot for exchanging vows is the Nine Muses by Carlos Dorrien, but with so much to serve as
an artistic backdrop, brides and grooms are encouraged to get creative. EDGE

 

NJ2012

According to the Mayan calendar, on December 21, 2012, the world will come to an end. Deep down, no one really buys into this apocalyptic vision. However, it would be nice to think that New Jersey is moving away from impending doom, rather than towards it. So, the question is: Are we?

When out-of-towners think of New Jersey, they tend to picture belching smokestacks, floating medical waste and other less-than-complimentary images. Unfair as that may be, the state does have a reputation for contributing more than its fair share to the world’s pollution problem. More and more, however, we hear that New Jersey is actually a leader in the Green Movement. Everyone, it seems—from cities to businesses to individual citizens—is focused on reducing our collective carbon footprint, protecting our precious resources and promoting sustainability. Granted, there is often a credibility gap between saying you’re green and putting your money where your mouth is. But as this snapshot of “where we are” shows, in many important (and surprising) ways, the Garden State really is living up to its name. Change is never easy, especially when it comes with a price tag. And make no mistake, the initial cost of going green can be steep. Yet slowly but surely, what was once a polarizing issue is becoming a foundational one. The poster child for environmental sustainability no longer sports a beard and sandals. More often than not, it’s a guy like Mike Kerwin. Kerwin is the CEO of the Somerset County Business Partnership and founder of the state’s first Energy Council. He has been at the forefront of leading the effort to make New Jersey green. Whether it’s convincing people to walk, bike, use mass transit, bring their own bags to the grocery store or reuse water bottles, he has been committed to teaching the masses how to live more environmentally friendly. Kerwin himself sees the change. Where he once found himself lecturing people on why it’s important to live green, he now spends a lot of time providing answers to inquisitive New Jerseyans on how to embrace a cleaner, healthier and more environmentally responsible lifestyle. While everyone is still watching their pennies these days, there is a general acceptance that the added cost (and effort) required to achieve these goals is worth it in the long run. “I definitely notice that younger people—starting with my own kids—seem to embrace it,” says Kerwin of going green. “I think it’s going to be a generational shift. I think ultimately there is going to be a demand for some lifestyle changes. And I think the older generation will follow suit. The case has been made that change has to be made.”

OLD DOGS, NEW TRICKS One of the most daunting obstacles to the greening of New Jersey is breaking old habits. The same person who dutifully recycles plastic bags or keeps their tires perfectly inflated may be completely resistant to a resource-preserving technology that simply rubs people the wrong way. Ted Carey knows all too well what it feels like to bump up against logic-defying behavior. His Hillsdale company, C&C Service, markets and installs LaundryPure, a device installed above the washing machine that uses the hydrogen contained in tap water to eliminate the need for hot water and laundry detergent. It saves money. It saves energy. It extends the life of clothing. And from a cost-to-benefit standpoint, the $450 LaundryPure amortizes itself in less than two years. You’d think by now every home would have one, and that Carey would be sipping Mai Tais on some beach overlooking a secluded tropical lagoon. There is just one problem.

“The promise that the unit makes is so great, that there is a natural skepticism,” he says. “Madison Avenue has indoctrinated us to believe that you need bleach and detergent in order to have clean clothes. And when something seems too good to be true, we have a tendency to move away from it.” “We need to give a unit to Oprah,” Carey laughs.

GRIP IT & RIP IT The verdant Hyatt Hills Golf Complex, situated on the borders of Clark and Cranford, was once a condemned brown site. Now it counts among its accolades the NJTA’s Environmental Stewardship Award. Hyatt Hills was reclaimed and transformed into a destination for golfers and their families, with first-rate teaching pros and fine dining.

CAR TALK Perhaps the ultimate test of our willingness to flip the switch on the status quo is the environmentally friendly automobile. America’s car culture is deeply embedded in New Jersey. Look around the next time you’re stuck at a stoplight. Almost everyone is driving something smelly, noisy, big—or some combination of the three. At what point will Garden Staters embrace hybrids like the Prius or Volt, or the batterypowered Leaf? (Note to Nissan: Real men may not drive a car called the Leaf.) The numbers are too premature to draw any lasting conclusions, but what does exist may raise a few eyebrows. Toyota dealerships like the one in Cherry Hill reported that they were having a hard time moving the Prius—and that was before the mother company’s PR nightmare. In 2008, New Jersey ranked 11th in hybrid vehicles sold, with 6,072, despite being the 9th-most populous state. According to the salespeople in Cherry Hill, the vast majority of New Jerseyans are still in love with their SUVs, and have a hard time with the concept of plugging in a car at night. The idea of not being able to go out and just start your car immediately is still viewed as a hassle versus a benefit. Not to mention that there are conversion steps the average home must undergo before it can support a hybrid vehicle.

GROWING PAINS We are what we eat. Countless studies support this old axiom. Although only a small percentage of fruit, vegetables and dairy grown in the Garden State is organic, that number has been rising dramatically as New Jersey consumers are becoming wise to the real cost of food grown with the help of chemicals, or trucked in from thousands of miles away. Business is booming at the state’s beloved produce stands, many of which feature organic goods. Meanwhile, the major grocery chains are devoting more and more space to these products. Some even have organic house brands. All told, sales of organic foods have seen double-digit percentage increases each year for more than a decade, with some years well over 20 percent. It’s a drop in the bucket, of course, but anything that heightens consumers’ awareness of the bigger environmental picture—especially in such personal terms—is a step in the right direction. Stephen McDonald would certainly agree. He founded Applegate Farms, a Bridgewater-based natural foods business, 22 years ago. Back then he and his peers seemed to be fighting a losing battle against that other McDonald’s. Today, Applegate Farms has grown from a niche market in the health-food category to mainstream markets all across the state. McDonald credits the growth of his business and others like it to the fact that New Jersey shoppers are making informed choices about what they feed their families—significantly more informed than even a decade ago. “When you walk into a store you want to understand how it was made, and what’s in it and what is not in it,” he explains, adding that “you can eat less and eat better, and it doesn’t have to cost you any more money. And it’s better for your diet. What excites us is that people are learning and becoming more engaged.”

LEARNED BEHAVIOR

Of course, a major component of changing our longterm relationship with the earth depends on setting a good example for our children. In this regard, New Jersey schools are getting with the plan. Most if not all of the major additions and renovations that have occurred in recent years have embraced some aspect of green sensibility. One of the early trend-setters was the Willow School in Peapack-Gladstone, built from the ground up in 2001. Most of the school was constructed with salvaged and recycled materials. From the wooden beams that hold up the walls to the stonework that graces the steps, much of the physical plant is experiencing a second coming of sorts. Solar pane ls have cut energy bills by as much as 70 percent, while rainwater is recycled in a filtering tank and stored for everything but drinking water. The school even has a lunchtime garden on-site. Head of School Kate Walsh is quick to point out an added benefit to going green: an enhanced learning environment. “There’s sort of a peaceful easiness in our classrooms,” she says. “We keep cool with a lot of natural air and natural light. We don’t have a lot of sickness. It’s a very healthy environment. There are no toxins, so the kids are basically healthy and the energy is really nice. What we teach our children is that they need to be responsible decision-makers as they live in the world.”

FINDING THE RIGHT MIX

Ultimately, the agent for green change in New Jersey will be a mix of common sense and economic survival. As Randall Solomon, Executive Director of the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute at Rutgers, points out, “We want to make sure the foundation of our economy and our standard of living is built on a stable foundation that will last into the future.” As for the Mayans, one might be tempted to say that they could have used a smart guy like Solomon to give them a heads-up when their society began crumbling. Then again, New Jersey might do well to take a hard look back at the lessons learned by that vanished civilization. There are some haunting parallels. Yes, we’ll make it past 2012 all right. But the next time you find yourself complaining about food and water shortages, skyrocketing fuel prices, overbuilding and overpopulation, it might be worth remembering that in responsible, proactive stewardship of the environment lies the key to the future of the state.

Editor’s Note: Zack Burgess is the Assignments Editor for EDGE. He decided to tackle this assignment himself—with assists from architect Bob Kellner and transportation Expert Josh Leinsdorf. For more information on the energySMART program call (866) NJ–SMART.

 

 

Century Mark

New Jersey was a state of “firsts” way back in 1921!

Hangar Number One is constructed at the Naval Engineering Station in Lakehurst as a base for military airship development. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968, it is one of the few surviving structures of its kind in the world.

 

 

 

The first class of New Jersey State Police officers graduates from training in Sea Girt. Only 81 of the original 116 men selected survive the rigorous three-month course designed by superintendent Norman Schwartzkopf, Sr.

The Newark-based Carrier Engineering Company develops the first AC unit capable of cooling offices, stores and theaters. The company’s Centrifugal Chiller revolutionizes the air conditioning industry.

The State Theatre, designed by architect Thomas Lamb, opens in New Brunswick. Admission is a quarter and the first film screened is White Oak, starring cowboy hero William S. Hart.

New Brunswick stride piano pioneer James P. Johnson records four historic songs—“Harlem Strut,” “Keep Off the Grass,” “Carolina Shout” and “Worried and Lonesome Blues”—that bridge the gap between Ragtime and Jazz.

 

Atlantic City hosts a Golden Mermaid beauty pageant to attract tourists during Labor Day week. Margaret Gorman of Washington DC is the winner, with audience votes counting for 50% of the final score. A year later, the competition is renamed Miss America.

 

The first “Million Dollar” prizefight is held in Jersey City between world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and world light heavyweight champ Georges Carpentier. More than 80,000 fans squeeze into a specially constructed arena to watch Dempsey score a fourth-round knockout.

The Port Authority is created to coordinate activity of New Jersey and New York ports, bridges, highways and tunnels. The need for centralized oversight became obvious when military troop movement choked the region’s infrastructure during World War I.

All-American Arthur Loeb leads the Princeton Tigers basketball team into battle in what proves to be their first conference-championship season. Loeb’s 203 successful free throws would stand as a school record for more than four decades.

Are You Open?

It’s the phone call Jersey Shore restaurants love to get… and the one that’s driving them crazy.

Superstorm Sandy did more than just splinter our beloved boardwalks and leave miles of beach towns in devastation and wreckage. It took from us the iconic eateries, watering holes and gathering places where so many Jersey Shore memories were made. The storm surge blew through hundreds of businesses. Some rebuilt, some are still trying, a few just gave up and walked away. Though bruised and battered, the beaches are all open this summer, as are most—but not all—of the beloved beach businesses.

Here is a snapshot (taken in May) of who’s up and running, and whom you might want to check with before penciling them into you shore itinerary. Most were underwater at one point, or perilously close to it. Please note that some of the “Check Firsts” will be open by the time you read this story—so don’t be scared away. Sadly, others may be gone forever…no matter how many times you check.

 

PLEASANT/PT. PLEASANT BEACH

Martell’s Tiki Bar • Jenks Club • Red’s Lobster Pot • Spike’s • Offshore

SANDY HOOK

OPEN: Sandy Hook State Park

CHECK FIRST: Sea Gulls’ Nest

SEA BRIGHT

OPEN: Woody’s • Harry’s • Ama

CHECK FIRST: Anjelica’s • Donovan’s • McLoone’s

SEASIDE

CHECK FIRST: Seaside Boardwalk Casino Pier

Seaside Funtown Pier

SPRING LAKE

OPEN: Whispers • Black Trumpet • The Breakers

Editors Note: The writer’s family owns Johnny Piancone’s in Long Branch. The water never got near the place, and they were up, running and super-busy within a few days.

‘Til Death Do Us Part

They say the new rule for modern weddings is that there are no rules. Actually, there’s nothing new about that.

Am I imagining things, or does this wedding planner stink?

In Medieval Europe, June weddings became popular because people took their annual baths in May. The tradition of a bridal bouquet began at weddings held after June, when the happy couple and their guests tended to be a bit more fragrant.

I am so ready to start dating again…

Daniel Bakeman and Susan Brewer were just teenagers when they got hitched in New York in 1772. Susan passed away before Daniel, in 1863, making their marriage the longest in modern history at 91 years.

Oh, right. And Rip Taylor is “just a bit flamboyant”….

In 2007, a man named Liu Ye in the Chinese city of Zhuhai got fed up with being single. Unable to find a suitable mate, he married a foam-core cutout of himself. Over 100 guests attended the traditional ceremony, which included a best man and bridesmaid. Ye admitted that he might be “just a bit narcissistic.”

Wait. Didn’t I see this on a reality show?

When the legendary lover Casanova decided to settle down, the mother of the young woman to whom he proposed reminded him that they had once been lovers—and informed him that he was proposing to his own daughter.

No way we’re tipping the band…

Elton John once charged £2 million to  sing at a wedding.

Today, we just use Slim Jims…

In Ancient Rome, marriage experts studied the entrails of swine in order to determine the luckiest day to hold a wedding.

And your point is…?

In a 1976 mass wedding held in Yankee Stadium—during which more than 20,000 members of the Unification Church tied the knot—Reverend Sun Myung Moon announced that the world had lost faith in America, and that New York had become “a jungle of immorality and depravity.”

Does that mean there are more than 25,000 wedding singers?

In the People’s Republic of China, more than 25,000 marriages ceremonies are performed on an average day.

Any truth to the rumor she’s seeing the Tilt-A-Whirl on the side?

In 2009, a 23-year-old woman named Amy Wolfe married a roller coaster in Pennsylvania. She had fallen in love with 1001 Nachts at Knoebels Amusement Park as a teenager and claimed to have developed a relationship with “him.” After the ceremony, Amy changed her last name to Weber, after the ride‘s manufacturer.

And the line at the carving station was ridiculous…

In 1867, the wedding of Maria del Pozzo to Prince Amedeo of Italy got off to a rocky start when it was discovered that Maria’s wardrobe mistress had hung herself and the palace gatekeeper had also committed suicide. Things could only get better from there, right? Wrong. It was a blistering hot day, causing the elaborately garbed leader of the wedding procession to collapse and die from heatstroke. After the happy couple boarded their honeymoon train, the stationmaster fell onto the tracks and was crushed under the train’s wheels. The carnage continued as an aide to the king fell off his horse and broke his neck during the revelry, and Amedeo’s best man accidentally shot himself.

First & Foremost

It is possible to have a great first date.

Photocredit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

There are scores of articles, blogs, and web sites about horrendous first dates. Yet not that much has been written about the fantastic ones. Is it a case of not wanting to jinx a budding relationship? Perhaps one needs a little distance from that initial link-up to gain some perspective. Or maybe the train wrecks are just more interesting to read and write about. The fact of the matter is that, whether you’re 16 or 60 or somewhere in between, it is possible to have a great first date…if you follow a few simple rules and embrace the experience.

For most people, “the goal of a first date is to get to a second date,” says Julianne Cantarella, dating coach and owner of New Jersey’s Matchmaker. “For many people, however, obstacles such as anxiety and high expectations can get in the way.”

Cantarella’s advice is to keep it simple and have fun. When she matches people up through her company, for instance, she usually arranges a lunch as a first date. Dinner, she explains, can be uncomfortable for people just getting to know each other—and expectations are usually higher. “Plus, if you’re not hitting it off, you are stuck with each other for a couple of hours. It’s always a good idea to at least have an enjoyable activity to help pass the time, just in case.”

She does not recommend movies or concerts for a first date, however: “The first date is an opportunity to get to know someone…to do that, you need to converse with one another, and you can’t do that at a movie or concert. Save those for subsequent dates.”

GREAT OUTDOORS

If the weather cooperates, a great idea for a first date is exploring one of the many gorgeous state parks in New Jersey, such as Island Beach State Park (great for bike riding), Hacklebarney (for hiking), or Liberty State Park (hop on a ferry and visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.)  A complete listing can be found on the state web site. There are also hundreds of wonderful community and county parks where you can bring a picnic lunch, such as Grover Cleveland Park in Caldwell, Brookdale Park, which lies within the municipalities of Montclair and Bloomfield, or Verona Park, which offers seasonal paddleboat rides and light fare in its quaint stone Boathouse restaurant.

Participating in a sporting event you both enjoy is also an excellent idea. My first date with my husband, Tom, was the Giralda Farms 10K race in Madison. We had lunch at a diner afterward and that was the beginning of our romantic relationship. Both of us are runners. We met through the Essex Running Club and had been friends for about a year before he asked me out on a “formal” date. I figured if he could fall in love with me all sweaty in running clothes after a race, he was the one.

Photocredit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

POINTS OF INTEREST

If your interests run more toward history or art, there are many places in the Garden State that are ideal for a first date. Mark Luzzi, 55, massage therapist and former resident of Caldwell, suggests Grover Cleveland’s Birthplace in Caldwell. It is the only house museum dedicated to the 22nd and 24th U.S. President, Grover Cleveland.  A bachelor when he entered the White House, Cleveland got married at the age of 49 to Frances Folsom, 21, the youngest First Lady in history. Visitors can partake of parlor games and try on period costumes—but call first for site hours. It’s a short tour, so you can follow it up with coffee and pastries at Calandra’s Italian Village, which is nearby.

Luzzi also recommends the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in Morristown, Gustav Stickley’s early 20th century country estate, a National Historic Landmark that will transport you back to 1911. “I love Stickley’s furniture but cannot afford it, so this is the next best thing,” he says.

If you both are fond of nature and photography, investigate Hackensack Riverkeeper Eco-Tours. They run from May 4 through October 13. The Eco-Cruises are educational tours of the Hackensack River and the NJ Meadowlands aboard the Hackensack Riverkeeper’s specially rigged pontoon boats. Captain Bill Sheehan started the Eco-Cruise program in 1994 to increase awareness of the lower Hackensack River watershed as a vital natural and recreational resource. The tours generally take between two and two-and-a half hours and are fully narrated by a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain.

TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

For first dates with someone you’ve known for a while—and whom you want to impress—then cocktails and dinner are a good bet. Pat Amato, 23, a certified personal trainer in Roseland, recommends Halcyon Brasserie, a popular spot in Montclair for special dates (first and otherwise).  “The décor is beautiful, and before dinner you can relax at the main bar or lounge,” he says. The menu is eclectic, with selections ranging from Organic Scotch Eggs to Kimchi Fried Chicken to Orange Ginger Glazed New Zealand King Salmon.

Jenn Schiffer, 28, a web site developer from Montclair, recommends Pig & Prince as a “nice, fancy place with great cocktails and appetizers.” She also counts Uncle Moustache—which serves French-Lebanese fare—and Tuptim, a Thai restaurant, among her favorite not-too-noisy places to enjoy good first-date conversations.

Another way to make a great impression is to take your date to High Societea House in Wayne—described on its web site as a “tea room where one can go back in time and enjoy the lost art of conversation, while enjoying the perfect pot of tea!”  Catherine Close, a graphic designer in her 50s from Little Falls, had her first date there with her now-husband, Mick. “It’s a lovely ambience,” she says, “with the floral tea cup settings, serving pieces and lace tablecloths.  A relaxed and romantic atmosphere.”

Photocredit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

To complement your tea, there are scrumptious caramel and assorted fruit scones with freshly made lemon curd and clotted cream, homemade soups, salads, finger sandwiches, tea breads, muffins, and assorted desserts. Reservations are encouraged since there are a limited number of tables.

The bottom line is that first dates don’t have to reduce you to a bundle of raw nerves. A little planning, the right attitude, and being open to having fun and living in the moment can go a long way.

Chef Recommends

EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Asian Burger 

728 Thompson Ave. • BRIDGEWATER

(732) 469-0066 • office-beerbar.com/locations/bridgewater

Our Signature Sirloin burger, topped with an Asian vegetable slaw, sesame ginger aioli, lettuce, and tomato. 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Paragon Tap & Table • Lobster Ravioli with Chipotle Shrimp Sauce 

77 Central Ave. • CLARK

(732) 931-1776 • paragonnj.com

This house made lobster ravioli is made with semolina flour and filled with a combination of fresh lobster and mascarpone cheese, it’s then topped with a light but flavorful sauce made with shallots, chipotle pepper, broken shrimp and a touch of light cream. This light but flavored dish exemplifies the seasonal menu at Paragon Tap and Table.  

— Eric B. LeVine, Chef/Partner

A Toute Heure/100 Steps Supper Club & Raw Bar

232 Centennial Avenue / 215 Centennial Avenue • CRANFORD

(908) 276-6600 • localrootscranford.com

Spring is finally here!  We are featuring the best “spring” ingredients like local ramps, asparagus, and spring berries!  At 100 Steps, you might find local ramps in the mignonette paired with great NJ oysters!  Or, at A Toute Heure, you might sample ramps on our daily flatbread pizza or crostini!    

— A Toute Heure – Robyn Reiss, Executive Chef / 100 Steps – Kara Decker, Executive Chef

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Tex-Mex Crunch Burger 

1–7 South Ave. • CRANFORD

(908) 272-3888 • office-beerbar.com/locations/cranford

Sirloin Burger topped with guacamole, crispy tortilla strips, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and tomato. 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Black Horse Tavern & Pub • Summer Smoked Pork Chop 

1 West Main Street • MENDHAM

(963) 543–7300 • blackhorsenj.com

A succulent house-smoked chop served with micro spring herbs and Jersey blueberry gastrique.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Piattino Neighborhood Bistro • Amalfi Seafood Pasta 

88 East Main Street • MENDHAM

(973) 543-0025 • piattinonj.com

Sautéed shrimp and clams, tomato, roasted garlic, spinach and white wine lobster broth over linguine.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Jersey “ Wake Up” Call 

619 Bloomfield Ave. • MONTCLAIR

(973) 783-2929 • office-beerbar.com/locations/montclair

Sirloin Burger topped with pork roll, American cheese and a fried egg. Lettuce, tomato and onion! 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

George and Martha’s American Grille • Sliced Hanger Steak 

67 Morris Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 267-4700 • georgeandmarthas.com

Served atop a sweet potato purée, with a wild mushroom demi-glaze and pan-roasted asparagus.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Tavern Grill • Slow Roasted Chicken Tacos

3 South Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 285-0220 • officetaverngrill.com

Grilled flour tortilla, achiote spice, guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and lime. 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse • Pan Seared Scallops 

1230 Route 22 West • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 518-9733 • partyonthegrill.com

Most guests think to visit us for an amazing hibachi meal, but we offer amazing traditional Japanese style dishes such as the Pan Seared Scallops, served with a edamame purée, truffle scented greens, miso lime dressing and bok choy. We also offer the freshest sushi in the area.

Daimatsu • Wild Caught Sushi

860 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-7888 • daimatsusushibar.com

We are excited to introduce seasonal wild-caught fish from Japan, including (from left) Isaki from SW Japan served with ginger & scallions, Kamasu from Shikoku seared on the skin with sweet yuzu pepper and cured with kombu seaweed,  and Ni-Anago eel braised tender in soy and sweet sake broth.  

— Momo, Chef

Publick House • Grilled Swordfish 

899 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-2355 • publickhousenj.com

The grilled swordfish is a perfect addition to our menu this Spring. Served over a fresh cut watermelon salad of red onion, pan-roasted brussel sprouts, feta cheese and tossed in a red wine vinaigrette. The swordfish is topped with lemon zest. The balance of flavors and diversity in textures makes this dish a true star. 

— Danilo Ayala, Executive Chef 

Morris Tap & Grill • Smoked Scallops with Corn Risotto

500 Route 10 West • RANDOLPH

(973) 891-1776 • morristapandgrill.com

The house smoked scallop dish balances the delicate flavored of smoked scallops served on a fresh corn risotto. The scallops are then topped with crispy celery root chips and finished with charcoal salt adding the perfect balance to this light dish.

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

Thai Amarin • Gang Phed Ped Yang

201 Morris Ave. • SPRINGFIELD

(973) 376-6300, (973) 376-6301 • thaiamarinnj.net

A customer favorite, our Gang Phed Ped Yang perfectly blends a spicy and savory red curry base with delicious coconut milk and fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and pineapples. All of these fantastic flavors are served over our exceptionally crispy duck.  

— Amy Thana, Owner

Café Z • Cappellini Arugula del Gamberoni 

2333 Morris Avenue • UNION

(908) 686-4321 • CafeZNJ.com

Angel hair pasta tossed with rock shrimp, arugula, diced tomatoes, garlic and marinara with a touch of cream. The combination of authentic flavors in each of our fresh, homemade entrées is nothing less than culinary perfection!

— Patricia Inghilleri, Owner

Chestnut Chateau • Gifts from the Sea

649 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 964-8696 • chestnutchateaunj.com

Not only does the summer bring beautiful blue skies, warm weather and longer days it also brings great seafood in our area. The fresh scallops, shrimp and fish are abundant and delicious. The Chestnut Chateau is the only area restaurant that offers fresh, local and wild seafood. 

— George Niotis, Chef 

Mario’s Tutto Bene • Vinegar Pork Chops 

495 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 687-3250 • mariostuttobene.com

Our vinegar pork chops feature three thin-cut Frenched chops that are coated with Italian breadcrumbs and sautéed with sweet vinegar peppers, prosciutto and garlic. They arrive with house-made roasted or mashed potatoes. Our regulars love this entrée.   

— John Garofalo, Owner

Rio Rodizio • Brazilian Meats

2185 Rte. 22 West • UNION

(908) 206-0060 • riorodiziounion.com

We offer an “All-You-Can-Eat” dining experience transported straight from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to your tableside. Each customer gets to witness a never-ending parade of freshly roasted meat and poultry. Our authentic Gaucho chefs carve these melt-in-your-mouth meats to your liking.

— Paul Seabra, Owner

The Manor • Seared Atlantic Salmon

111 Prospect Avenue • WEST ORANGE

(973) 731-2360 • themanorrestaurant.com

Among the varied entrées served in The Manor’s Terrace Lounge dining room is this perfectly-seared fresh Atlantic salmon. The crispy skin and delicate texture are accented with a flavorful almond and pumpkin couscous. Along with asparagus tips, a roasted tomato beurre blanc offers a rich, buttery compliment to this layered and refined dish.

— Mario Russo, Chef de Cuisine

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Pacific Island Ahi Tuna Burger 

411 North Ave. West • WESTFIELD

(908) 232-1207 • office-beerbar.com/locations/westfield

Our pan-seared ahi tuna burger is finished with spring vegetables, Asian mayo, lettuce and tomato.  

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

 

The Chef Recommends

EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Grilled Bratwurst

728 Thompson Ave. • BRIDGEWATER 32–34 Chestnut St. • RIDGEWOOD 1–7 South Ave. • CRANFORD 61 Union Pl. • SUMMIT

619 Bloomfield Ave. • MONTCLAIR 411 North Ave. West • WESTFIELD

We fire finish our beer-braised bratwurst on the grill and serve it with sautéed onions and peppers on a char-grilled garlic-infused baguette.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Paragon Tap & Table • Butternut Squash Ravioli

77 Central Ave. • CLARK

(732) 931-1776 • paragonnj.com

Our new restaurant blends hand-crafted ravioli preparations with creative twists on classics. A popular addition to the fall menu at our new restaurant has been the butternut squash ravioli served, which we sautée with butternut squash and sage sauce. 

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

The Black Horse Tavern & Pub • Bone-in Ham Chop

1 West Main Street • MENDHAM

(963) 543–7300 • blackhorsenj.com

Our ham chop is served bone-in, with a bing cherry compote, and is accompanied by celery root purée and citrus-sautéed spinach.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Piattino Neighborhood Bistro • Neapolitan Pizza

88 East Main Street • MENDHAM

(973) 543-0025 • piattinonj.com

Our house special Neapolitan-style Piattino pizza is stone-fired and topped with roasted chicken, basil-and-pine-nut pesto, pecorino romano cheese, fresh-pulled mozzarella, braised onions and tomatoes.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

George and Martha’s American Grille • Maple Pumpkin Pie

67 Morris Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 267-4700 • georgeandmarthas.com

This season we are featuring maple pumpkin pie. It’s a maple-infused, spiced pumpkin pie topped with cinnamon and fresh whipped cream.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Tavern Grill • Belgium-Style Stout Braised Mussels

3 South Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 285-0220 • officetaverngrill.com

We braise Prince Edward Island mussels in a local craft ale, with garlic and onions. They’re finished with herbs and served with fresh-cut fries.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Daimatsu • Tuna Tataki

860 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-7888 • daimatsusushibar.com

The must-try favorite on our appetizer menu is tuna tataki—diced tuna marinated in sesame-flavored soy sauce and mixed with finely chopped onion, spicy sprouts and nori on top.

— Momo, Chef

Publick House • Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna

899 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-2355 • publickhousenj.com

This has been one of our signature dishes since we opened in 2009. For the Fall season, the tuna is crusted in black and white sesame seeds and seared rare. It is sliced and served over a medley of stir-fried vegetables, which are cooked in soy sauce. The dish is finished with scallions and accompanied with a side of wasabi.

— Bernie Goncalves, Owner

Morris Tap & Grill • Roasted Pork Tenderloin

500 Route 10 West • RANDOLPH

(973) 891-1776 • morristapandgrill.com

We serve our seasonal roasted pork tenderloin with roasted Brussels sprouts and finish it with a port wine demi. We pair all of our dishes with selections from our best-in-the-state craft beer menu for an ever-evolving craft-beer and food experience.

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

Thai Amarin • Curry Beef Short Ribs

201 Morris Ave. • SPRINGFIELD

(973) 376-6300, (973) 376-6301 • thaiamarinnj.net

Our juicy beef short ribs, cooked to perfection with rich, mild Massaman curry—emphatically the king of curries—is perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coco-nutty, sweet and savory, its combination of flavors has more personality than a Thai election! 

— Amy Thana, Owner

Café Z • Chicken Rapa

2333 Morris Avenue • UNION

(908) 686-4321 • CafeZNJ.com

One of our crowd favorites is our Chicken Rapa. We prepare a boneless chicken breast with sundried tomatoes, fresh diced tomatoes, broccoli rabe and serve it over capellini with a white wine, oil and garlic sauce.

— Patricia Inghilleri, Owner

Chestnut Chateau • Smoked Meats

649 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 964-8696 • chestnutchateaunj.com

With football season in full swing, we’ve added smoked certified angus meats to our menu, while cooking up the best brisket, ribs, pork bellies and butts north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Our baby back ribs fall off the bone and with my homemade barbecue sauce a loss by your favorite team won’t matter anymore. 

— George Niotis, Chef

Mario’s Tutto Bene • Vinegar Pork Chops

495 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 687-3250 • mariostuttobene.com

Our vinegar pork chops feature three thin-cut Frenched chops that are coated with Italian breadcrumbs and sautéed with sweet vinegar peppers, prosciutto and garlic. They arrive with house-made roasted or mashed potatoes. Our regulars love this entrée.  

— John Garofalo, Owner

Rio Rodizio • Brazilian Meats

2185 Rte. 22 West • UNION

(908) 206-0060 • riorodiziounion.com

We offer an “All-You-Can-Eat” dining experience transported straight from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to your tableside. Each customer gets to witness a never-ending parade of freshly roasted meat and poultry. Our authentic Gaucho chefs carve these melt-in-your-mouth meats to your liking.

— Paul Seabra, Owner

The Manor • Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

111 Prospect Avenue • WEST ORANGE

(973) 731-2360 • themanorrestaurant.com

Our herb-crusted rack of lamb is moist, tender and full of flavor—and contrasted with a wonderfully seasoned,crispy exterior texture. The dish is served with a rosemary-mint demi-glace on the side. To complement the lamb, we add a decorative potato basket featuring an array of seasonal vegetables and a rich eggplant caponata.

 

 

Curtain Call

UCPAC is a blast from the past.

By Mark Stewart

The year was 1928. Nearly 1,500 people settled into their seats on a Tuesday evening to hear the first notes played by the great Chet Kingsbury on central New Jersey’s newest entertainment attraction, a $20,000 Wurlitzer pipe organ. Above the audience sparkled a magnificent, 13-foot tiered-crystal chandelier. Before them was a full orchestra pit, its musicians ready to accompany the two films scheduled to play, one starring Dolores Costello and Conrad Nagel, the other Myrna Loy. It was opening night of the million-dollar Rahway Theatre.

Later that evening, as patrons exited the building under the 2,500-light marquee, it was difficult to imagine the fun would ever end. The Rahway Theatre was a state-of-the-art entertainment palace built at the height of the Roaring ’Twenties. It could accommodate moving pictures, vaudeville revues, stage plays and concerts. No expense was spared. It even had a nursery to look after children while their parents were enjoying a show.

Upper Case Editorial Services

And yet, there were changes in the wind. The stock market crashed, movie studios started turning out talking pictures and vaudeville died. The Rahway Theatre soldiered on, providing an inexpensive diversion during the Depression and World War II. It hosted rock n roll shows in the 1950s and continued to thrive as a movie house well into the 1960s. Little by little, however, the venue lost its glittering opulence and fell into disrepair. By the 1980s it was in danger of falling to the wrecking ball.

In 1984, title to the Rahway Theatre was transferred to Rahway Landmarks, Inc. A major restoration effort was initiated and one year later it was renamed the Union County Arts Center. First the interior was restored. Next the façade underwent a facelift. As the theatre regained its footing, the city’s Arts District grew up around it. Now called the Union County Performing Arts Center, the theatre is actually one of three performance venues under the UCPAC umbrella—including the 60-seat blackbox-style Loft and the plush 199-seat Hamilton Stage down the street.

“This theatre has served as a community cornerstone for nearly nine decades,” says UCPAC executive director Lawrence McCullough. “Our mission is to present programming that is diverse and accessible and fosters the new generation of young artists and audiences.”

First-time visitors to the old building today have the same reaction as audiences did back in the 1920s: a sense of wonder and awe at its golden-age grandeur. And yes, the old Wurlitzer is still there. It sounds better than ever.

Editor’s Note: For a schedule of upcoming events at all three performing arts center venues, log onto ucpac.org or call (732) 499-8226.

The Chef Recommends

EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Truffled Tots

728 Thompson Ave. • BRIDGEWATER 32–34 Chestnut St. • RIDGEWOOD 1–7 South Ave. • CRANFORD 61 Union Pl. • SUMMIT
619 Bloomfield Ave. • MONTCLAIR 411 North Ave. West • WESTFIELD

Not your average tater tots, these are handmade tater tots infused with herbs and fried until they are crispy golden brown. They are served with white truffle aioli and sprinkled with sea salt.

Paragon Tap & Table • Beer Brined Pork Chop

77 Central Ave. • CLARK
(732) 931-1776 • paragonnj.com

Our pork chops are brined for thee days and served on top of a creamy bacon mac and cheese. It’s one of the highlights of our gastropub menu.

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

The Black Horse Tavern & Pub • Goffles Farm Chicken Breast

1 West Main Street • MENDHAM
(963) 543–7300 • blackhorsenj.com

Prosciutto wrapped Goffles Farm Chicken Breast with roasted new potatoes, marsala herb butter & crispy sage. 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Piattino Neighborhood Bistro • Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon

88 East Main Street • MENDHAM
(973) 543-0025 • piattinonj.com

Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon paired with a lemon herb risotto, piccata butter and crisped baby arugula.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

George and Martha’s American Grille • Crispy Jumbo Lump Crab Croquettes

67 Morris Street • MORRISTOWN
(973) 267-4700 • georgeandmarthas.com

Crispy Jumbo Lump Crab Croquettes with Lemon infused Aioli and Roasted Corn Relish.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Tavern Grill • Maryland Blue Crab Dip

3 South Street • MORRISTOWN
(973) 285-0220 • officetaverngrill.com

Maryland Blue Crab Dip Sour Dough Bread Bowl filled with Jumbo Lump Crab Dip, served with Old Bay Flour Tortilla chips.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Daimatsu • Sushi Pizza

860 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE
(908) 233-7888 • daimatsusushibar.com

This original dish has been our signature appetizer for over 20 years. Crispy seasoned sushi rice topped with homemade spicy mayo, marinated tuna, finely chopped onion,  scallion, masago caviar, and ginger. Our customers always come back wanting more.

— Momo, Chef

Publick House • Roasted Long Island Duck Breast

899 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE
(908) 233-2355 • publickhousenj.com

New to our menu this season is the roasted long island duck breast. The duck is seasoned with salt and pepper and slowly roasted to temperature. Paired with creamy, sweet celery root puree and earthy oven roasted portobello mushrooms, the balance of flavors compliments the fat of the duck breast perfectly.

— Bernie Goncalves, Owner

Morris Tap & Grill • Tuna Tartare Flat Bread

500 Route 10 West • RANDOLPH
(973) 891-1776 • morristapandgrill.com

Fresh ahi-grade tuna tossed in a light ginger scallion sauce served on top of a wasabi brushed lavash crisp.

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

Thai Amarin • Duck Rad Prig

201 Morris Ave. • SPRINGFIELD
(973) 376-6300, (973) 376-6301 • thaiamarinnj.net

A customer favorite, our crispy boneless duck topped with a sweet and spicy chili and garlic sauce is unique only to us. Topped with aromatic basil and lime leaves, our Ped Rad Prig will have you wanting more.

— Amy Thana, Owner

Café Z • Hot “Z” Shrimp

2333 Morris Avenue • UNION
(908) 686-4321 • CafeZNJ.com

Jumbo shrimp encrusted with panko bread crumbs served with our hot and spicy marinara sauce that we make here.

— Patricia Inghilleri, Owner

Chestnut Chateau • Black Seabass

649 Chestnut Street • UNION
(908) 964-8696 • chestnutchateaunj.com

As the cold weather is in full swing, everyone bundles up and likes to stay warm. I embrace the cold and use the best fish caught in the deep blue waters of our east coast. Black seabass is great whole or filleted. The flaky white meat is served with a browned butter sauce that’s garnished with capers, baby croutons, parsley and lemon supremes.

— George Niotis, Chef

Mario’s Tutto Bene • Vinegar Pork Chops

495 Chestnut Street • UNION
(908) 687-3250 • mariostuttobene.com

Our vinegar pork chops feature three thin-cut Frenched chops that are coated with Italian breadcrumbs and sautéed with sweet vinegar peppers, prosciutto and garlic. They arrive with house-made roasted or mashed potatoes. Our regulars love this entrée.

— John Garofalo, Owner

The Manor • Surf and Turf

111 Prospect Avenue • WEST ORANGE
(973) 731-2360 • themanorrestaurant.com

I pair pan-seared prime filet mignon with a butter-braised lobster, along with fresh seasonal vegetable accents. An airy shellfish emulsion and the creamiest mashed potatoes you will ever taste make for the perfect partners to this classic dish, which has helped The Manor successfully define the art of fine dining for over a half-century.

— Mario Russo, Chef de Cuisine

EDGE is not responsible for any typos, misprints or information in regard to these listings. All information was supplied by the restaurants that participated and any questions or concerns should be directed to them.

It Is What It Is…

…and 21 other expressions that drive me crazy.

By Mark Stewart

I have issues with I have issues. In my career as a writer and editor, I find myself sideswiping people in the financial, legal, medical, tech, sports, publishing and public relations industries who subject me to what I consider to be an inordinate number of expressions that either don’t say what they mean, don’t mean what they say, are utterly redundant or are subject to serial misuse.

I’m not talking about industry-specific jargon; that at least has a cultural component. The words and phrases that burrow under my skin are ones we all employ on a regular basis without even listening to the jibberish spilling out of our mouths. Perhaps the most annoying aspect of these overwrought expressions is that I catch myself using them all the time. Like the rest of the world, I have my lazy, semiliterate moments—even though I am paid not to.

So here are my Top 20. How many do you hear in a given day? Be honest…how many are you guilty of using?

Absolutely!

This is often the one-word response to something that requires nothing more than the word Yes or even a simple head-nod. I’ve noticed that a lot of service people have started using the word. “May I have some water when you come back to the table?” Absolutely. It’s become a kissing cousin to the word Obviously, which people use when something is not at all obvious.

At the end of the day…

I don’t know about you, but the end of my day rarely brings resolution to anything other than being awake. I wonder, do people who work the night shift ever say At the end of the day…? If so, wake me up so I can slap them. Actually, this expression has some history behind it: In the early 1800s, when the day ended, there was only (poorly lit) night, so everyone had to stop whatever they were doing until it was light again.

At this point in time…

Just to be clear, this is really code for Until I tell you otherwise, because it covers way more time than a single point in time.

Everything happens for a reason.

Well, technically this is true. My issue with the phrase is that, while brilliant minds like Einstein and Hawking spend their lives trying to express this concept in mathematical terms, the rest of us dullards use this old saying when we have no clue what the reason for something is.

If I would have…

This is a tense with which I am unfamiliar. It’s like a mad twisting of the subjunctive. In truth, it’s not a tense at all. The correct construction is either Had I… or If I had…

I have to say…

Fine. Go ahead. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

I have issues with…

If these issues are important topics of debate, I’m all for a lively discussion. If these issues are only inside your head, work them out and get back to me.

I mean…

Wait. Did you just say something you didn’t mean?

I’m not comfortable with…

Your comfort is not my concern, so find another way of saying I disagree or That’s a bad idea.

It is what it is…

Annoying because it relieves the utterer of any responsibility for analyzing or responding meaningfully to a situation. Doubly annoying because often it is not what it is, but something entirely different.

It’s all good.

Rarely, if ever, is it all good.

No-brainer

So are you saying this is a good idea or a stupid one? Or that it’d be stupid not to think it’s a good idea? Or that giving it more thought would require no brain? Now my head hurts.

No worries!

I’m sorry. Are you Australian? I didn’t think so. For future reference, It’s okay or Don’t worry will do just fine.

Old school

The more I think about this adjective, the more it annoys and confuses me. First of all, it should be hyphenated, yet never is. Second of all, its meaning is different when a young person uses it and an old person uses it. Third of all, let’s face it, young people have almost no concept of what old people were doing when they were young. And fourth of all, if you took courses at the New School in New York City back in the 1980s, is everything you learned now considered Old School?

Personally…

C’mon, is this any way to start a sentence? I assume whatever observation or opinion you are about to offer is personal, because you are saying it.

Same difference

Thankfully, people don’t use this much when they’re being serious because, seriously, does anyone really understand what it means?

Thanks in advance…

I am guilty of using this phrase in the manipulative way it was intended, as a means of saying to someone In case you were thinking of not doing this annoying thing I want you to do, forget it—you now have no choice because I’ve already thanked you. It’s like warning someone not to go back on a promise they haven’t even made yet.

That’s a great question.

This is a very “versatile” response. It can mean Wow, I never thought of that and I probably should have or That question was idiotic, but you’re my boss or client and I’d rather not be fired today. Often, it is a way of drawing someone timid into a group conversation, which I guess is a fairly benign use of the phrase. Ironically, there is one time when you almost never hear people say, “That’s a great question”—when someone actually asks a great question.

To be honest…

Hold on a second. At what point were you not being honest? When I hear someone say this, I instantly assume that some part of what they are about to say might be a lie.

What’s done is done.

Technically true, but that’s no reason to give up on something you might still be able to change or fix.

With all due respect…

There are certain people who’ll begin a sentence with With all due respect… and you just know that what’s coming next is going to be the most disrespectful thing you have heard all day. Admit it, you know at least one person like this.

YOLO

Short for You only live once. I don’t hang out with people who actually use this word, but it irritates me just to know that these people exist. I wonder if Hindus ever say YOLO…because I’d have an issue with that.

Editor’s Note: In case you were wondering, the author’s #23 most annoying expression was My bad. Visit the EDGE Facebook page to add your pet peeves to the list—including Pet peeve (which came in at #32).

The Chef Recommends

EDGE takes you inside  

the area’s most creative kitchens.

 

Grain & Cane Bar and Table • Miso Glazed Salmon 

250 Connell Drive • BERKELEY HEIGHTS

(908) 897-1920 • grainandcane.com

Our savory Miso Glazed Salmon—accompanied with jasmine shrimp, fried rice and an aromatic citrus yuzu coconut sauce—is one of many sensational seasonal menu items. Order online!

 

The Thirsty Turtle • Pork Tenderloin Special 

1-7 South Avenue W. • CRANFORD

(908) 324-4140 • thirstyturtle.com

Our food specials amaze! I work tirelessly to bring you the best weekly meat, fish and pasta specials. Follow us on social media to get all of the most current updates! 

— Chef Rich Crisonio

 

The Thirsty Turtle • Brownie Sundae  

186 Columbia Turnpike • FLORHAM PARK

(973) 845-6300 • thirstyturtle.com

Check out our awesome desserts brought to you by our committed staff. The variety amazes as does the taste!

— Chef Dennis Peralta

 

 

The Famished Frog • Mango Guac 

18 Washington Street • MORRISTOWN (973) 540-9601 • famishedfrog.com

Our refreshing Mango Guac is sure to bring the taste of the Southwest to Morristown.

— Chef Ken Raymond

 

 

 

Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse • Pork Belly Bao Buns 

1230 Route 22 West • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 518-9733 • partyonthegrill.com

Tender pork belly, hoisin sauce and pickled cucumber served on a Chinese bun. 

 

 

 

 

LongHorn Steakhouse • Outlaw Ribeye 

272 Route 22 West • SPRINGFIELD 

(973) 315-2049 • longhornsteakhouse.com

Join us for our “speedy affordable lunches” or dinner. We suggest you try our fresh, never frozen, 18 oz. bone-in Outlaw Ribeye—featuring juicy marbling that is perfectly seasoned and fire-grilled by our expert Grill Masters. Make sure to also try our amazing chicken and seafood dishes, as well.

— Anthony Levy, Managing Partner

Ursino Steakhouse & Tavern • House Carved 16oz New York Strip Steak 

1075 Morris Avenue • UNION 

(908) 977-9699 • ursinosteakhouse.com

Be it a sizzling filet in the steakhouse or our signature burger in the tavern upstairs, Ursino is sure to please the most selective palates. Our carefully composed menus feature fresh, seasonal ingredients and reflect the passion we put into each and every meal we serve.

 

Support Our Chefs! 

The restaurants featured in this section are open for business and are serving customers in compliance with state regulations. Many have created special menus ideal for take-out,  delivery or socially distant dining, so we encourage you to visit them online. 

 

Do you have a story about a favorite restaurant going the extra mile during the pandemic?  Post it on our Facebook page and we’ll make sure to share it with our readers! 

The Chef Recommends

What makes a successful restaurant? Food, service, atmosphere, value—all are crucial ingredients in a winning recipe. The true measure of success, however, can be measured in repeat customers. In other words, loyalty is everything. We asked some of the region’s top chefs and restaurant owners what they would recommend to first-time customers that would be most likely to transform them into regulars…

The Black Horse Tavern & Pub • Sliced Buffalo Sirloin

1 West Main St. • Mendham

(963) 543–7300 • blackhorsenj.com

The Black Horse is one of New Jersey’s oldest restaurants, but features contemporary farm-to-table American cuisine. One of our signature dishes is sliced buffalo sirloin. It’s prepared with a blackberry brandy demi-glaze and served with roasted vegetables, lima beans and grilled pita.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Café Z • Stuffed Meatball

2333 Morris Ave. • Union

(908) 686–4321 • cafeznj.com

At Café Z, we are always trying new ideas and recipes. Our homemade stuffed meatball is a great example. It started out as a “daily special” and quickly became a crowd favorite. We hand-roll each and every one, bake and serve with our homemade spicy marinara sauce. The concept originated from our Bolognese sauce, a three-meat gravy we serve over pasta with a dollop of seasoned ricotta cheese. Both are simply delicious, always fresh and made on premises.

— Patricia Inghilleri, Owner

Chestnut Chateau • Pan-Seared Tilefish

649 Chestnut Ave. • Union

(908) 964–8696 • www.chestnutchateaunj.com

Our line-caught tilefish comes from the deepest part of the ocean. It is  pan-seared and served over broccoli rabe, sautéed in garlic and olive oil, and garnished with diced Kalamata olives and roasted red peppers. It’s one of my favorite dishes and our customers savor every bite—truly, it will make you close your eyes and smile.

— George Niotis, Chef

George and Martha’s American Grille • Pork Osso Buco

67 Morris Street • Morristown

(973) 267–4700 • georgeandmarthas.com

Our regulars at George and Martha’s really feel like they’re home when they order the Pork Osso Buco. It is paired with savory mashed potatoes and crispy fried leeks. Comfort can be cutting-edge if you are innovative in your technique. I enjoy taking familiar flavors and dishes and presenting them in a new and exciting way that surprises my guests.  

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Manor • Surf & Turf

111 Prospect Ave. • West Orange

(973) 731–2360 • themanorrestaurant.com

I pair pan-seared prime filet mignon with a butter-braised lobster, along with fresh seasonal vegetable accents, which currently include baby carrots, beets, turnips, haricots verts, and wild mushrooms. An airy shellfish emulsion and the creamiest mashed potatoes you will ever taste make for the perfect partners to this classic dish, which has helped the Manor successfully define the art of fine dining for over a half-century.

— Mario Russo, Executive Chef

Mario’s Tutto Bene • Vinegar Pork Chops

495 Chestnut St. • Union

(908) 687–3250 • mariostuttobene.com

Our vinegar pork chops feature three thin-cut Frenched chops that are coated with Italian breadcrumbs and sautéed with sweet vinegar peppers, prosciutto and garlic. They arrive with house-made, roasted or mashed potatoes. Our regulars love this entrée.  

— John Garofalo, Owner

The Office Tavern Grill • Chicken & Waffles

3 South Street • Morristown

(973) 285–0220 • officetaverngrill.com

Our most popular signature dish is the chicken and waffles. The buttermilk fried chicken is served with gruyere and applewood bacon in a maple syrup reduction. The waffle batter is infused with rosemary and thyme with a touch of cayenne pepper and the chicken is crunchy and flavorful. All these flavors—the hearty, sweet and salty—really work together.  

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • The Wedge Burger

411 North Ave. West • Westfield 61 Union Pl. • Summit

728 Thompson Ave. • Bridgewater

619 Bloomfield Ave. • Montclair 1–7 South Ave. • Cranford

32–34 Chestnut St. • Ridgewood

Our newest burger, The Wedge, combines two classics—the hamburger and wedge salad. A half-pound of grilled beef with blue cheese, beefsteak tomato and cheddar cheese sauce—served between two wedges of iceberg lettuce. The idea was developed when we were looking at a gluten-free burger that had a little creativity to it. Now it’s a signature item.   

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Piattino Neighborhood Bistro • Braised Chicken & Linguine

88 East Main St. • Mendham

(973) 543–0025 • piattinonj.com

Piattino is a Manhattan-style restaurant where we can get creative and adventurous with traditional Italian food. Our braised chicken and linguine, which is prepared with a 24-hour red wine glaze, is a very popular menu item that demonstrates how we prepare Italian ingredients—tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, fresh rosemary and oregano, garlic butter—with an American technique and influence. 

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Publick House • Blackened Scottish Salmon

899 Mountain Ave • Mountainside

(908) 233–2355 • publickhousenj.com

In keeping with our Irish roots, we offer exceptional pub fare. However, we’re best known for our high-quality seafood and meats, including our pan-roasted blackened Scottish Salmon. It’s served with a pine-nut quinoa, and arrives with fresh asparagus, and a creamy carrot purée.

— Bernie Goncalves, Owner

Rio Rodizio • Roasted Meats

2185 Rte. 22 West • Union

(908) 206–0060 • riorodiziounion.com

We offer an “All-You-Can-Eat” dining experience flown straight from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to your tableside—featuring the unique ambiance of a traditional Brazilian Steakhouse. Each customer gets to witness a never-ending parade of freshly roasted meat and poultry. Our authentic Gaucho chefs come to you and carve these melt-in-your-mouth meats to your liking.

— Paul Seabra, Owner

Thai Amarin • Drunken Noodles

201 Morris Ave. • Springfield

(973) 376–6300 • thaiamarinnj.net

We prepare a wide range of authentic Thai food that you can’t find anywhere else. Our regular customers love our Drunken Noodles, a stir-fried broad rice noodle dish with a distinct flavor profile. They are sautéed in our special sweet and spicy garlic basil sauce and topped with fresh holy basil. It pairs really well with our fried cheesecake dessert. 

— Amy Thana, Owner

Nowhere to Hide

Nazi art thieves were no match for New Jersey’s real-life Monuments Men

Over the past year, the brave men and women who devoted their knowledge and efforts to save the looted masterpieces of Western civilization during World War II have risen—mostly from the dead—into the public eye more than 70 years later. The art-specialist soldiers known as “Monuments Men” marched out of history’s shadows and right into popular culture thanks to the movie starring George Clooney, John Goodman, Bill Murray and friends. Unbeknownst to all but a handful of historians, many of these heroic, dedicated and patriotic academics—who raced against time (and the Russians) to save the great masterpieces and hidden gems of the Western world—lived, worked and trained in the Garden State.

Columbia Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures

Among the key players in this story who hailed from our state were S. Lane Faison, Charles Parkhurst, Patrick Kelleher, Ernest DeWald and Craig Hugh Smyth, who studied at Princeton to be art historians and curators. A handful of these distinguished men went on to be directors of the Princeton University Museum of Art.

The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Commission (MFAA), a group of 345 men and women from 13 nations, was established in 1943 as the tide of war began to turn in Europe. Known as the Monuments Men, they were recruited and trained to retrieve, safeguard and return art masterpieces, many of which had been looted from museums or confiscated from Jewish families. The Hollywood film is an amalgam of people and events. In the race to save civilization, lives and irreplaceable masterpieces, real-life art historians and curators in Europe and the United States actually began their work more than four years before Germany even declared war, and continued their endeavors for many years after the Nazis were defeated.

In anticipation of the war, museums all over Europe toiled day and night, carefully packing up sculptures and paintings and shipping them to hiding places. It was a national effort. For larger paintings, the Louvre employed scenery trucks from the Comedie-Francaise to transport them to shelters. The Mona Lisa was chauffeured in its own private railway car to her hiding place in a French chateau in the Dordogne. In 1941, the United States followed suit. Art treasures, from the newly established National Museum of Art in Washington, for example, were shipped to the safety of The Biltmore in North Carolina, as well as Fort Knox.

THE DOCTOR IS IN

The aforementioned Dr. Smyth (pictured in uniform on the preceding page) was one of the young curators who helped to move the art. A Naval reservist with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history from Princeton, he served as a drill sergeant and officer in the Pacific before he was tapped to head the Munich Collecting Point out of Hitler’s Munich Headquarters. Smyth’s story begins mostly when Monuments Men, the movie, ends.

According to Alexandra Smyth, his daughter, Dr. Smyth settled into Hitler’s office at the Nazi headquarters—now, appropriately, the Central Institute of Art History—as “it was the only building large enough to house the huge amounts of art for cataloguing and repatriation.” Dr. Smyth, who spoke German, immediately incurred the wrath of the U.S. military for hiring knowledgeable Germans to help with the daunting task of sorting, cataloguing and returning the tens of thousands of art treasures that were being trucked in from their hiding places—including those poorly stored in the dank salt mines shown in the 2014 movie.

“He felt it was his duty,” notes his son, Ned Smyth, “to reignite German interest in art—he considered Germany the intellectual birthplace of art history—and reawaken a positive patriotic identity of German intellectual tradition of art history…and so he hired German art experts, who were cleared by the military, to help with identifying and returning the plundered treasures.”

Eyebrows also were raised when Dr. Smyth retained the services of the German custodian who had previously maintained the Nazi headquarters for Hitler. According to his son, he wanted to get qualified Germans back to work. Later, Dr. Smyth made a point to hire German Jewish art historians to work at The Institute of Fine Arts in New York.

Photo courtesy of the Smyth family

The question of whether to return the artwork to its European owners or to send it to the U.S. for “safe-keeping” was another prickly issue. The Russians, considered any art they found as spoils of war—compensation for the devastation visited upon them by the German military—and shipped vast quantities back to Moscow. The race to seize as much of the art before it disappeared into Russian hands was one of the main plotlines in the movie.

The priceless Madonna of Bruges: loaded for transport (top) and back home in The Church of Our Lady in Belgium (bottom).

UNLIKE IKE

Dr. Smyth strongly favored returning the masterpieces to the original owners or their surviving family members. However, not all the Monuments Men agreed. John Walker, a director of the National Gallery, saw the Collecting Points as convenient way stations to appropriate European masterpieces for his new museum. He convinced General Dwight D. Eisenhower that the art should be shipped to the United States. This set up a High Noon moment that would have provided a high point for the film.

“When Eisenhower arrived at the Munich Collecting Point,” Ned Smyth recounts, “Dad had the army soldiers stationed carrying machine guns guarding the head-quarters. My dad spoke with Eisenhower…and he got the message. If anything my dad did during the war captured my young imagination, it was how he risked court-martial and the end of a promising career to save the art for Europe.”

Dr. Smyth, who passed away in 2006, lived in Alpine and went on to earn his PhD from Princeton and enjoyed a distinguished career as Director of the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU and Director of the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti near Florence. He also was an honorary trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His efforts in restoration of art in Europe earned him honors in both France and Germany.

WILD ABOUT HARRY

The last of the Monuments Men, 88-year-old Harry Ettlinger (pictured on page 71), lives in the Morris County town of Rockaway. Born in Germany to an affluent Jewish family, he escaped to America with his parents and siblings, starting their new life in a one-room apartment in Washington Heights.

“People told my father Go West,” Ettlinger jokes. “So we moved west…16 miles to New Jersey.”

When he returned to Germany during World War II, it was as a citizen of the United States and a soldier of its armed forces. As an army private, he was plucked from his company (which was heading to the Battle of the Bulge) to help translate for the Monuments Men. His take on the movie—where his name was changed to Sam Epstein and the handsome British actor Dimitri Leonidas portrayed him—is that it was entertaining and educational, but “to a degree, they have covered certain items that reflect what Monuments Men did. The rest is Hollywood.”

While we may feel it, not many of us actually can say we worked in the salt mines. But that’s what Ettlinger did after Germany’s surrender. For ten months he oversaw the removal of artworks that had been stored by the Nazis 700 feet below ground in salt mines to protect them from Allied bombs. There among the treasures, Ettlinger and the German miners—who had been okayed by the United States—uncovered the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Strasburg as well as a Rembrandt self-portrait. In addition, he helped with art retrieval from Hitler’s private retreat, the Eagle’s Nest. He also helped recover and return works of art owned by the French branch of the Rothschild family, which had been stored in Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps.

Perhaps the most meaningful moment in this experience was retrieving his grandfather Oppenheimer’s collection from a warehouse in the Swiss spa town of Baden Baden. Ettlinger, who went on to a distinguished career as an engineer, says his grandfather was a wise man, known for his humor—wonderful traits that seem to run in the family.

Neue Gallerie NYC

DEGENERATE ART

The Nazis’ aesthetic was intolerant towards modern art and termed it “degenerate.” Hermann Goering was charged with identifying and rounding up potentially important modern works to be sold to collectors outside Germany. This plan met with little success, and at one point an exhibition was held in Munich so that Nazi leaders could make fun of the paintings. After that, the art was supposedly burned. Much of what survived was only recently retrieved from apartments owned by the late Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of one of Hitler’s hand-picked Modern Art confiscation experts. The elder Gurlitt was tasked by the Nazis with selling the looted art through his network of contacts. Already, a valuable Matisse painting from that cache was returned to art dealer Paul Rosenberg’s descendants, one of whom is Anne Sinclair, the ex-wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka DSK), the former managing director of the World Monetary Fund. Earlier this spring, the Neue Gallerie in New York mounted a show exhibiting the stunning Degenerate Art seized by the Nazis from museums and private collections.

Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

Whether The Monuments Men and its attendant publicity inspired people to come forward with knowledge of artwork looted or “lost” during World War II, it seems every week brings a new discovery and reunion of art with owner. Just this past April, a 17th Century painting missing during the war was sent from Germany back to Poland. And, of course, there was the startling headline last November about 1,500 works of art that were discovered behind a wall of canned food in a Munich flat. Thus the legacy of the Monuments Men is nothing if not enduring.

Editor’s Note: Sarah Rossbach grew up with stories of those who escaped the Nazi regime and those who, sadly, did not. One of the lucky German Jews, Robert von Hirsch, traded a 16th Century Cranach painting for the right to leave Germany alive with the rest of his collection. His brother, who collected original sheet music, received exit visas for himself and his family, but was ordered to leave the sheet music in Germany.  His wife successfully petitioned to take her everyday china. She wrapped it in—what else?—priceless sheet music by Beethoven, Brahms and Bach.

The Chef Recommend

EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Grilled Bratwurst

728 Thompson Ave. • BRIDGEWATER 411 North Ave. West • WESTFIELD 32–34 Chestnut St. • RIDGEWOOD

We fire finish our beer-braised bratwurst on the grill and serve it with sautéed onions and peppers on a char-grilled garlic-infused baguette.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef.

Paragon Tap & Table • Mushroom Tart

77 Central Ave. • CLARK

(732) 931-1776 • paragonnj.com

In additional to all of our craft beer and craft dishes, burgers, pastas and seasonal, local menu items, we are also very proud to offer our vegan and vegetarian experiences, including mushroom tart with roasted salsify, zucchini and French beans.

— Eric B. LeVine, Chef/Partner

A Toute Heure/100 Steps Supper Club & Raw Bar

232 Centennial Avenue / 215 Centennial Avenue • CRANFORD

(908) 276-6600 • localrootscranford.com

Our restaurants offer the best ingredients from ocean, farm, and garden on their seasonal menus. As we head into winter, the ocean offers up some of our best seasonal options—from briny local oysters and mussels, to gorgeous local catch. The colder water temperatures mean a great abundance and amazing local flavors!   

— Andrea & Jim Carbine, Owners

The Black Horse Tavern & Pub • Summer Smoked Pork Chop

1 West Main Street • MENDHAM

(973) 543–7300 • blackhorsenj.com

A succulent house-smoked chop served with micro spring herbs and Jersey blueberry gastrique.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

Piattino Neighborhood Bistro • Amalfi Seafood Pasta

88 East Main Street • MENDHAM

(973) 543-0025 • piattinonj.com

Sautéed shrimp and clams, tomato, roasted garlic, spinach and white wine lobster broth over linguine.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Beer Bar & Grill • Jersey “ Wake Up” Call

619 Bloomfield Ave. • MONTCLAIR

(973) 783-2929 • office-beerbar.com/locations/montclair

Sirloin Burger topped with pork roll, American cheese and a fried egg. Lettuce, tomato and onion!

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

George and Martha’s American Grille • Sliced Hanger Steak

67 Morris Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 267-4700 • georgeandmarthas.com

Served atop a sweet potato purée, with a wild mushroom demi-glaze and pan-roasted asparagus.

— Kevin Felice, 40North Executive Chef

The Office Tavern Grill • Slow Roasted Chicken Tacos

3 South Street • MORRISTOWN

(973) 285-0220 • officetaverngrill.com

Grilled flour tortilla, achiote spice, guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and lime.

Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse • Pan Seared Scallops

1230 Route 22 West • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 518-9733 • partyonthegrill.com

Most guests think to visit us for an unforgettable hibachi meal, but we offer amazing traditional Japanese style dishes such as the pan seared scallops, served with a edamame purée, truffle scented greens, miso lime dressing and bok choy. We also offer the freshest sushi in the area.

Daimatsu • Grilled Oyster

860 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-7888 • daimatsusushibar.com

Fresh jumbo Pacific oyster grilled with homemade miso sauce, fried northern puffer fish marinated in light ginger soy coated in potato starch and deep fried crunchy veggie on the side. 

— Momo, Chef

Publick House • Shepherd’s Pie

899 Mountain Ave. • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 233-2355 • publickhousenj.com

Our Shepherd’s Pie is an authentic homage to our Irish roots. The slow braised lamb is so tender it practically melts in your mouth. The meat is mixed with fresh herbs and vegetables, creating a stew of rich, warm flavors. Topped with garlic potato puree and browned until crispy, it pairs beautifully with a pint of craft beer.

— Danilo Ayala, Executive Chef

Luciano’s Ristorante & Lounge • House Made Mafalda Pasta Inverno Style

1579 Main Street • RAHWAY

(732) 815-1200 • lucianosristorante.com

Our goal is to give our guests a pleasurable dining experience, with fresh ingredients and personable service in a beautiful Tuscan décor complete with fireplaces. Our house-made Mafalda pasta features slow-braised artichoke crowns, cippolini onions and oven-dried tomatoes in a saffron cream broth. Luciano’s is available for dining and private parties of all types.

— Joseph Mastrella, Executive Chef/Partner

Morris Tap & Grill • Grilled Brined Pork Chop

500 Route 10 West • RANDOLPH

(973) 891-1776 • morristapandgrill.com

With the turn of the season we always change and add to our menu. We use local product to support area farmers and create seasonally to keep the menu at the peak of freshness. Grilled brined pork chop with roasted acorn squash and BBQ-dusted potato tots, maple garlic glaze.

— Eric B LeVine, Chef/Partner

Spirit: Social Eatery and Bar • Jersey Breakfast Bar Pie

250 Morris Ave. • SPRINGFIELD

(973) 258-1600 • mclynns.com

Get in the Spirit! Our Jersey Breakfast Bar Pie features potatoes, Taylor ham, cheddar cheese and onions. It doesn’t get more Jersey than that!  

— Mark Houlker, Chef

Thai Amarin • Goong Ma Kham

201 Morris Ave. • SPRINGFIELD

(973) 376-6300, (973) 376-6301 • thaiamarinnj.net

Batter fried jumbo shrimps with a tasty house made tamarind sauce,  topped with roasted almonds and served on a bed of stir-fried spinach.  

— Amy Thana, Owner

Café Z

2333 Morris Avenue • UNION

(908) 686-4321 • CafeZNJ.com

Try our fresh mozzarella and roasted red pepper appetizer, perfect with a bottle of Coppola red wine. Every Friday night is live entertainment and dancing!

— Patricia Inghilleri, Owner

Chestnut Chateau • Black Seabass

649 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 964-8696 • chestnutchateaunj.com

As the cold weather is in full swing, everyone bundles up and likes to stay warm. I embrace the cold and use the best fish caught in the deep blue waters of our east coast. Black seabass is great whole or filleted. The flaky white meat is served with a browned butter sauce that’s garnished with capers, baby croutons, parsley and lemon supremes.

— George Niotis, Chef

Mario’s Tutto Bene • Vinegar Pork Chops

495 Chestnut Street • UNION

(908) 687-3250 • mariostuttobene.com

Our vinegar pork chops feature three thin-cut Frenched chops that are coated with Italian breadcrumbs and sautéed with sweet vinegar peppers, prosciutto and garlic. They arrive with house-made roasted or mashed potatoes. Our regulars love this entrée.  

Rio Rodizio • Brazilian Meats

2185 Rte. 22 West • UNION

(908) 206-0060 • riorodiziounion.com

We offer an “All-You-Can-Eat” dining experience transported straight from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to your tableside. Each customer gets to witness a never-ending parade of freshly roasted meat and poultry. Our authentic Gaucho chefs carve these melt-in-your-mouth meats to your liking.

The Manor • Petite Filet Mignon & Short Ribs

111 Prospect Avenue • WEST ORANGE

(973) 731-2360 • themanorrestaurant.com

Our hearty petite filet mignon, accompanied by oh-so-rich short ribs that have been braised to tender perfection are ideal for the season. Add to that grilled baby leeks, forage mushrooms scented in bordelaise sauce, caramelized cipollini onions, and a delightfully-presented potato purée in a crisp potato basket and you have a taste of autumn well worth the visit.

— Vincent Raith, Executive Chef

 

‘Tis the Season

Fresh out of ways to stay busy at home this winter?  These products will get you thinking outside of the box. 

Growth Spurt 

If you live in New Jersey, finding farmstand-fresh garden herbs and vegetables during the winter months can be an exercise in futility. And a decent tomato? Soul crushing. Which is really all the convincing you should need to check out one of the new artificially intelligent indoor produce-growing devices. We like the Smart Garden 9 by Click & Grow, a company run out of San Francisco (with a second office in Estonia—we don’t know why). It features a professional-caliber grow light and nano-material “smart soil”  that releases nutrients, oxygen and water to as many as nine different plants. The product also comes with little biodomes to fast-track sprouting.   

Image Conscious 

Your phone is filled with great photos. You’ve got boxes of old-school color prints somewhere and, oh yeah, all those albums. Hey, don’t forget the family archives of black-and-white ancestors. What to do with all of these pictures? A number of companies will make blankets, throws and other large decorative products featuring a collage of your most cherished, unforgettable images. Collage.com is a good starting point. It has actually become a competitive business, which is good for you. Pay attention to the quality of fabric you’re ordering—that makes a difference in terms of usability and durability. Done well, these blankets could just be the hit of the holiday gift-giving season. Done poorly, they will embarrass your sensitive teenager for years. In other words, you win either way!  

Scrap Collector 

Every home, it seems, has that one closet shelf piled high with material scraps and random textiles from  the ghosts of projects past, present and future. Well, could there be a better time than now to pull them together into a killer quilt? Coronavirus has pretty much ruled out the quilting-bee option, which means you’re on your own. Before you begin, consider a sewing machine built with quilting specifially in mind. There are a lot of choices at a wide range of price points, starting in the hundreds and creeping into the thousands. One  of the more popular and affordable machines is Brother’s HC1850. It comes pre-programmed with 185 different stitching patterns and a wide table for quilting, plus—and this is important—free access to an actual human to answer quilting questions for  as long as you  own it.  

Be Still My Heart 

Tempting as it may be, day-drinking is never a good idea. But making your own booze anytime is now an option with one of the new-fangled high-tech home stills that are on the market. We’re talking moonshine, of course, a product that has found its way out of the hills and into the suburbs in recent years as a liquor of choice. Among the many food-grade home “hobbyist“ kits on the market is the Stainless Steel Stovetop Still made by How to Moonshine, a Canadian company doing brisk business in the United States. It’s a five-gallon, food-grade piece of equipment that can produce three liters in a couple of hours, and works on a gas burner, induction cooktop or electric hotplate. Yes, it’ll make your kitchen look a little like Walter White’s cook room, but creating your very own batch of firewater to your own particular taste sounds like a lot of fun.     

Tunnel Vision 

Are you one of those Why should I do all the work people? Perhaps one of Wall Colony’s Woodframe Ant Farms is calling your name. These relentless tunnelers create an ever-changing natural landscape and are a  daily reminder of what can be accomplished when  we all work together. The frames come first—in walnut, oak or cherry—and the ant colony follows a few days later after you’ve done a simple set up.     

Where’s the Beef? 

Have you noticed that the quality of meat at your local grocer has improved over these last few months? Where “choice” was often the best choice, now “prime” cuts are showing up—often at choice prices. With so many restaurants either shuttered or working at low capacity, meat purveyors have had to forge new relationships with supermarkets. Who knows how long this will last? One way to take advantage of this fortuitous glitch in the supply chain is to use these prime cuts to make delicious jerky. To do that, you’ll need a machine. Some are big, bulky and expensive. But others are not. Unless you plan on opening a side hustle, then the Nesco Snackmaker Pro will do just fine. It’s technically a dehydrator, which means you can use it for fruits and vegetables if you like, but jerky aficionados give it solid reviews. You’d be surprised how many closet jerky lovers there are out there, and with retail prices soaring for even the most modest portions, you may want to increase production once friends and family find out what you’re up to. This model is actually expandable, so no problem there.

Chef Recommends

EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.

Grain & Cane Bar and Table • Maine Lobster Benedict 

250 Connell Drive • BERKELEY HEIGHTS

(908) 897-1920 • grainandcane.com

Butter poached lobster, cage-free poached eggs and bernaise sauce. The flavors combine to create a beautifully silky dish that will be a weekend brunch favorite.

The Thirsty Turtle • Pork Tenderloin Special 

1-7 South Avenue W. • CRANFORD

(908) 324-4140 • thirstyturtle.com

Our food specials amaze! I work tirelessly to bring you the best weekly meat, fish and pasta specials. Follow us on social media to get all of the most current updates!  

— Chef Rich Crisonio

The Thirsty Turtle • Brownie Sundae  

186 Columbia Turnpike • FLORHAM PARK

(973) 845-6300 • thirstyturtle.com

Check out our awesome desserts brought to you by our committed staff. The variety amazes as does the taste!

— Chef Dennis Peralta

 

The Famished Frog • Mango Guac 

18 Washington Street • MORRISTOWN (973) 540-9601 • famishedfrog.com

Our refreshing Mango Guac is sure to bring the taste of the Southwest to Morristown.

— Chef Ken Raymond

Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse • Pork Belly Bao Buns 

1230 Route 22 West • MOUNTAINSIDE

(908) 518-9733 • partyonthegrill.com

Tender pork belly, hoisin sauce and pickled cucumber served on a Chinese bun. 

LongHorn Steakhouse • Outlaw Ribeye 

272 Route 22 West • SPRINGFIELD 

(973) 315-2049 • longhornsteakhouse.com

Join us for our “speedy affordable lunches” or dinner. We suggest you try our fresh, never frozen, 18 oz. bone-in Outlaw Ribeye—featuring juicy marbling that is perfectly seasoned and fire-grilled by our expert Grill Masters. Make sure to also try our amazing chicken and seafood dishes, as well. 

— Anthony Levy, Managing Partner

Ursino Steakhouse & Tavern • House Carved 16oz New York Strip Steak 

1075 Morris Avenue • UNION 

(908) 977-9699 • ursinosteakhouse.com

Be it a sizzling filet in the steakhouse or our signature burger in the tavern upstairs, Ursino is sure to please the most selective palates. Our carefully composed menus feature fresh, seasonal ingredients and reflect the passion we put into each and every meal we serve.

Support Our Chefs! 

The restaurants featured in this section are open for business and are serving customers in compliance with state regulations. Many have created special menus ideal for take-out,  delivery or socially distant dining, so we encourage you to visit them online. 

Do you have a story about a favorite restaurant going the extra mile during the pandemic?  Post it on our Facebook page and we’ll make sure to share it with our readers!  

 

Bending, Not Breaking

In COVID-19 times, it’s business as UNusual in New Jersey. 

By Christine Gibbs 

At 1,200 people per square mile, New Jersey is America’s most densely populated state. We paid the price for that honor in disrupted and lost lives when COVID-19 struck. New Jersey’s 800,000 businesses, which employed nearly a quarter of its 8.9 million residents when the pandemic arrived, felt this pain deeply, too. The numbers won’t be pretty when it is all said and done, but the state’s economy is resilient and our people are tenacious and talented. Indeed, amid the crushing reports of store closings, bankruptcy proceedings, and other bad news, there seems to be a new story every day about innovative thinking or inspired action that has enabled a business here to survive and even thrive in the face of the most daunting conditions.     

Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to draw a through-line connecting a noodle shop, a church, a college, a dog groomer, a barbecue rub, and a brewery. But here we are in the new normal, and these are some of the folks who refused to let the virus stand in their way. 

Photo courtesy of Ani Ramen

USING HIS NOODLE   

A few years back, EDGE ran a glowing review of Ani Ramen, an authentic Japanese noodle house that opened in Montclair and added a second location in Jersey City in 2017. When the coronavirus arrived in March, founder Luck Sarabhayavanija was up to five restaurants with four more on the drawing board. When dine-in privileges were revoked, he quickly switched gears in order to support the staff and the greater community. Luck recast Ani as a nonprofit “pop-up” to provide for the hungry, the needy, and first responders. The result: Rock City Pizza Company and Bang Bang Chicken shops, from which customers could order Detroit-style pizza or Chinese-style rotisserie chicken…and get another one at half price to donate. These new ventures were an immediate success, but demands from patrons of Ani’s original ramen chain prompted the opening of Ani Express, a takeout location featuring some of the company’s top-selling bowls. Customers picked up easy-to-assemble kits (to avoid cold or soggy noodles) to bring home, reheat, and Slurp-Sip-Repeat—Ani’s recommended technique for fully embracing the Japanese noodle experience. Ani’s noodles are alive and well thanks to its unique, outside-the-box response to COVID-19. The non-profit is humming along and Luck is already thinking ahead to reopening his original five restaurants and resurrecting his tabled plans for four more when the pandemic passes. 

Photo courtesy of Carton Brewing Company

BEER NECESSITIES    

“We are just keeping the lights on, surviving not thriving…in this business, you have to be nimble, you have to hustle, you can’t waste time just believing, you have to start thinking.” So says Augie Carton of the Carton Brewing Company, one of the top craft beer producers in the state when the pandemic struck. With bars and restaurants shuttered, he and cousin Chris Carton immediately started thinking local. They ramped up production of a beer named 077XX—those three numbers start the zip codes of most Jersey Shore towns—which they had already been developing based on a “flavor commonality” that had emerged during extensive market research. Carton Brewing focused on what would appeal to the most common denominator among local beer drinkers—so no, not for the careful consideration of an educated palate (as with their other products) but for consumption by the “most drinkers possible.” Devotees old and new have been heading to the company’s new facility in Atlantic Highlands to   fill their personal growlers and crowlers with their new flagship beer, the aforementioned 077XX, ever since. 

Photo courtesy of Liquid Church

LIQUID GOLD 

Houses of worship and other places of spiritual gathering have had a particularly hard go of it during the pandemic. The very qualities that bind their adherents—community, fellowship, and physical proximity— threatened to unravel once everyone was ordered to keep their distance and shelter in place. Among the numerous examples of resilience, sacrifice and clever work-arounds is one church that seemingly has gone viral thanks to the virus. Liquid Church, headquartered in Parsippany, is not your typical church (you probably guessed that from the name). Its goal is to “provide a religious experience that is the most refreshing opportunity on the planet to quench the spiritual thirst for a religious grounding, especially in these trying times,” according to lead pastor Tim Lucas. The church opened its doors in 2007 and also offered online services through CHOP, the Church Online Platform. When the pandemic arrived in New Jersey, Pastor Tim shut the doors in all three in-person worship locations and concentrated on Facebook and YouTube. Within months, the congregation grew from a robust 5,500 to a digital audience of more than 12,000. Liquid Photo courtesy of Liquid Church Church was also able to turn its Parsippany property into a makeshift warehouse, distributing “Boxes of Hope” to tens of thousands of residents in the surrounding towns. Unsure of when and how a reopening will be possible, Lucas focused on planning “re-gathering” efforts over the summer, including a safe-distancing “Liquid On the Lawn” BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible) event that prompted some people to assume, he laughingly admits, “we were either a cult or a drinking fraternity.”  

Photo courtesy of Stevens Venture Center

NOTHING VENTURED 

“Startups and the entrepreneurs behind them are like indestructible weeds that will survive and grow despite all obstacles, even COVID-19.” Strong words from David Zimmerman of the Stevens Venture Center (SVC) at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. To be sure, in chaos and uncertainty, opportunity often flourishes. Zimmerman, the Director of Technology Commercialization at SVC, acknowledges that start-ups are never easy, even under the most favorable economic and social conditions. Add the overwhelming pressure of having to launch a fledgling venture in the throes of a pandemic and that only adds to the uncertainty. That is why the Venture Center has been a beacon of hope, a “safe house and sanctuary” for preserving and elevating the spirit of community-conscious innovators and entrepreneurs. “We are here to help daring innovators commercialize their vision into something spectacular,” he says.  The response to the pandemic under Zimmerman involves the popular Hackathon, a marathon of budding tech superstars and promising mentors and sponsors, who convene in teams to define a specific problem and then sprint to find a breakthrough that has the potential to become a commercial reality. It’s now known (at least temporarily) as the COVID Health Hackathon. 

Photo courtesy of Stevens Venture Center

DOGGED PERSISTENCE 

You know who made out like bandits when we were all told to stay home? Dogs. Suddenly and without warning, dog owners were home all day, talking to their pets (because who else was there?) and walking them two or three or four times between sunup and sundown. It was a great time for Canine-Americans. Not so great, however, for dog groomers and other hands-on pet-related businesses. When the world began to reopen, so did my local dog salon, Shampoochies. Owner Sherri Amador was faced with a steady stream of horrendous home grooming disasters and a large number of dogs that were channeling the fear and stress of their stay-at-home owners. In addition to minimum-contact drop-off and pickup practices, her groomers began offering soothing massages to stressed-out pups and added a dog training option as another creative add-on to make up for the loss of vital revenue from the sale of treats, leashes, and other impulse items. Sherri confirmed the fact that her staff has upped the ante on TLC—both for dogs and their owners—and has corrected a number of strange grooming attempts by her clients. These tweaks and their great results helped Sherri recapture 70% of her business, which has enabled her to keep three full-time groomers busy. And tips are up from grateful customers, she adds. 

SPICE GIRL 

One of the changes in the air, literally, for New Jersey during the pandemic has been the smell of grilling. The summer of 2020 (and the spring and the fall, too) may one day be remembered here as the golden age of the backyard barbecue. That explains, in part, how

Photo courtesy of Dr. Dor’s BBQ

Dr. Dor’s BBQ expanded from a friends-and-family worst-kept secret to a bona fide international brand in the span of six months. The Dr. Dor’s line encompasses 10 rubs now, is included in monthly barbecue subscription boxes, and has customers throughout North America and Europe. That success, however, is just one part of a bigger story. Dr. Dor is Doreen Rinaldo, a longtime radiation therapist at Trinitas and unrepentant “barbecue geek.” She’s not a doctor; it’s a nickname bestowed upon her by her pals when she entered the medical profession 25 years ago and she just stopped fighting it after a while. When the COVID-19 crisis began in March, Rinaldo realized that first responders, emergency staff and other nightshift workers had no way of obtaining a hot meal. “I was stuck at home with nothing to keep me occupied, so I put together a food event and asked local restaurants and foodies like me for help,” she recalls. “The goal was to raise money to feed first responders and also keep the restaurants in business. We fed around 50 people in the Trinitas Emergency Department that first night, plus the Roselle Fire and Police Departments.” Long story short, the Trinitas Health Foundation got behind Rinaldo’s idea and, over the spring and summer, the Feed the  Heroes program resupplied the hospital every day of the week, serving north of 20,000 meals in all. Rinaldo continued doing outside events, as well, and the list of participating restaurants and individual donors would fill up a couple of pages of this magazine. By the end of August, the hospital celebrated its first week with no new COVID patients (from a high of 200 a week) and the program ended. Rinaldo, who reported for duty in Elizabeth throughout the coronavirus battle, says she is spending her off hours filling holiday orders, including a big one for Barbecue Rub Club. She would love to retire as the “Queen of Barbecue” someday, but for now, like the rest of us, she is focused on maintaining an even keel and just having fun again. “This started as something to keep my mind focused during a pretty intense, frightening time,” Rinaldo says. “I love that  it ended up being something that brought a lot of  people together.” 

SO, WHAT NEXT

The common thread connecting these success stories involves creative rethinking, gritty determination, and gutsy projections into post-pandemic markets. Many small businesses have chosen to “do good” until they start doing well again, and in the process discovered that they had deepened the connection to the community and their customers. Restaurants and farmers are delivering to local food banks; doctors and medical staff diagnose patients through telehealth conferencing; gyms, trainers and physical therapists stream healthy workouts. And while no one can honestly say they have overcome all of their COVID-related challenges, many can claim to have made impressive progress.  

Shifting Gears

Within days of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting New
Jersey, Trinitas found itself on the front lines,
scrambling to understand the virus and working around the clock to combat its deadliest effects acute respiratory distress syndrome and respiratory failure. Physicians and researchers at the hospital’s Comprehensive Cancer Center jumped into the fray and bringing their unique perspective to a potentially overwhelming situation, helped to turn the tide with inspired cutting-edge treatments and fast-tracked clinical trials. For instance, Trinitas was one of the first to put a stem-cell therapy developed by Viti Labs into play- assembling an interdisciplinary team that included hematologists, oncologists, and emergency department doctors in real-time. Patients with COVID-19 were infused with antibody-rich plasma from coronavirus survivors to help fight the virus. “We had positive responses with a subgroup of our plasma patients which was amazing considering the challenges we had to face,” says Dr. Michelle Cholankeril, Division Chief of Medical Oncology at Trinitas. The team’s groundbreaking work continues.

Adaptive, outside-the-box thinking has long been a hallmark of successful businesses in New Jersey. Life will no doubt be different in the new, post-pandemic normal. However, that is one thing that is unlikely.   

John Slattery

Fox Broadcasting Company

There is an art to delivering a scripted line and John Slattery has all but mastered it. When his characters speak, we not only listen. We want to know everything about them. As Roger Sterling on Mad Men, he offered a window into the brand-building culture of 1960s America and, as Paul LeBlanc in the new Fox series neXt, he is our guide to the chilling prospect of artificial intelligence run amok. Gerry Strauss was curious about the origin of Slattery’s talent for boiling down big television and film concepts into elegant, intimate and often funny moments. Not surprisingly, it was honed live on stage.            

EDGE: What drew you to acting as a young man? 

Broadway.com

JS: I watched a lot of movies and TV when I was a kid and, somewhere in there, I realized that people were actually doing this as a job…and maybe I could do that. I had to apply to college somewhere and there was a school—Catholic University in Washington, DC—that my sister had gone to. I was not a very good student and my options were probably not that great. It was the only place I applied. If I didn’t get in there, I was going to have to figure something else out. I got in and they had a theater department, so that’s how I started. 

EDGE: Your stage résumé is very extensive. Do you actively pursue theater work in between your television and film projects? 

JS: Absolutely. One of my favorite things is to be able to do various disciplines. There are different rhythms to all of them. When I went to New York, my first legit jobs were commercials and stuff like that—which are great jobs to have and you learn a lot. But as far as acting, I learned on the stage. It’s thrilling and difficult in a different kind of way. It tests you and your ability to repeat the whole process every night and rehearse for a sustained period of time. So it’s just completely different than anything involving a camera. Hopefully, that is something that people will still be able to do. 

EDGE: How did John Slattery become Roger Sterling? 

JS: Matt Weiner saw me in a play. I was doing Rabbit Hole on Broadway with Cynthia Nixon and Tyne Daly.  I went in to read for the part of Don Draper; that’s because the part of Roger didn’t have a lot to do in the pilot. And then, after I read a couple different times and did my homework and prepared, he said, “Well, here’s the thing…[laughs]…we have that guy already.” That actually happened. Matt claims that I was in a bad mood the whole time we shot the pilot because I didn’t think that my part was good enough, and my nose was out of joint because he made me read for Don Draper.   

EDGE: Were you in a bad mood? 

JS: I don’t know. But I probably had one foot out the door, because no one knew what Mad Men was going to turn out to be, since AMC hadn’t done very much original programming. Anyway, Matt promised me it would be a great part…and it was.  

EDGE: When the series concluded, were you concerned that future projects might not meet the untouchable quality standards that you’d become accustomed to as a part of that show? 

JS: No, not even a little bit. I’m not looking for Mad Men. I’ve done that and I had a great time doing it.  I never expected it to happen in the first place, and I don’t expect it to happen again. That said, I went on and did Spotlight, which was pretty great—great circumstance, great people. I just try to find the material that speaks to me. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s okay, too. If you can find something that satisfies you, then I’m good with that. 

EDGE: You’ve played a lot of bosses and high-ranking employees. Does each take a particular kind of preparation? 

Upper Case Editorial

JS: I’ll do my research, the required homework in order to make myself as convincing as possible. But people are in positions of authority for all kinds of reasons, whether they know their job, or whether they they’re just good with people, or whether their brother-in-law runs the company. For example, in Mad Men, I played a guy whose name is on the building, but it’s because his father founded the company. However, If you said that to him, he’d say, “What does that have to do with anything? Are you trying to tell me that I don’t know how to do my job?” There isn’t any one quality that is required to have that job. 

EDGE: neXt has been quite the addition to Fox’s lineup this season. What appealed to you about the concept of the show? 

JS: The character appealed to me because this guy created this artificial intelligence, and he immediately recognizes the potential dangers of and tries to lock it away. In his absence, it’s unlocked and plugged into the internet and it starts to run amok, and he’s trying to warn people how dangerous it is. I was interested in exploring how do you describe exponential growth and tell someone the planet’s burning?  So he’s trying to describe to people how super intelligence works and why it’s dangerous. You give this thing an order on Friday and over the weekend it learns the 20,000 years of human history—you think it might take issue with you being its boss on Monday morning? I say a line in the show—“You know, in your lifetime, you’ll kill maybe 100,000 bugs with your car. You don’t mean to…they’re just in the way. That’s what we are to this thing.”  

EDGE: People look at your character Paul like he’s crazy. 

JS: Because he is kind of crazy. He has this brain disease, and he’s hallucinating and he’s paranoid and he’s anxious. People are put off by him and don’t really want to listen to what he has to say. So it’s that combination that made the whole role a really interesting exercise—and makes it a thrilling show. You asked the question about how I approach playing people in positions of authority? So I don’t know anything about super intelligence. I read a couple of books and watched Sam Harris give a couple of lectures. I listened to Elon Musk and Bill Gates trying to explain it. You go So how do I do that? I had to learn how to get my mouth around some of the technical terms that that need to be second nature to my character and I have to communicate with a degree of authority—as well as an off-handed quality—that really smart people have [laughs].  

EDGE: With so much streaming content that gets binged and forgotten until a new season drops, do you think there is a benefit to having series like neXt air one episode a week—so that suspense builds, storylines develop and buzz gets generated? 

Fox Broadcasting Company

JS: It’s a good question. I just finished watching a show called The Bureau. It’s a French spy show. They had already made four seasons of it, so I binged four seasons of it. I thought there were five and was expecting to watch the fifth next, and then I realized that the new season hadn’t come out yet. Then, the fifth season was on week to week [laughs] so I had to watch the thing every week and wait for them one at a time. I was kind of pissed in the beginning, but it didn’t keep me from turning it on. You can binge something and you can crank through the story in a couple of days, which is great. But there still is that anticipation if you know how to hook the audience. You’ve got to have a good couple of shows up top, kicking the thing off and setting the hook as it were to the audience—which I think we do. You’re not trying to manipulate anybody, but you’re trying to get them interested in the story you’re telling. There’s so much entertainment out there, and people’s lives are so filled with media of one kind or another, that it’s hard to make a dent. I think this show does. I really do. And I think it’s more timely now than when we made it six months ago.  

Marvel Studios

Iron Man’s Dad

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know John Slattery as Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father, a character presented in flashbacks since he was murdered before the current-day setting. How did John land this role?  

I wasn’t a big comic book fan—not since I was a kid, so I really didn’t have that much of a pull towards it. I got a call from Jon Favreau, who directed the first two Iron Man movies. “Do you have any children?” I said, “Yeah…”, and he said, “You have to do this then. I mean, how are you going to tell your kid that you had a chance to play Howard Stark and you turned it down?”  

When I did scenes with Robert Downey, there’s a script and we rehearse it and then we change it. It wasn’t like a total improv, but there was a lot of stuff that we were just trying to figure out. You have to figure out the best way to tell the story of the film and try to figure out where the scene lives. It was really fun to do that with Downey and the Russo brothers, who are such smart guys. 

Amazon Studios/Prime Video

The Spice of Life

Is it fun for you to pop into an episode of The Romanoffs or a film role that doesn’t involve a long-term commitment? 

Yeah! Variety is part of the reason I went into this business. You can play different people and learn to do a variety of different jobs, but you don’t have to actually stick with them. Sometimes the short assignment can be preferable, depending on where my life is at the moment. Sometimes it’s tricky because you don’t have as much information about the story to go on. Then again, you have to remember that because a show like Mad Men happens one scene at a time, so you don’t really know a character in its entirety until you get to the end.    

 

Greene Day

An NFL linebacker comes home.

On a sunny Saturday in Elizabeth, wide-eyed young football players fill Waterfront Field in the never-ending quest to burnish their skills. It might sound like a typical late-spring weekend morning here, but there is one big difference. On this day, the kids are being coached by a professional: hometown hero Khaseem Greene, twice Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Rutgers and now a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.

For most of these kids, it is their first experience interacting with a player of Greene’s caliber. Towering over his charges, he is someone they can look up to, literally and figuratively. No matter where his football travels have taken him, Greene has always come back home. This is the second year he has hosted his football camp. It’s not a money-maker (many NFL player camps are), nor is it just about teaching on-field techniques to the city’s kids. Greene sees his camps as an important way of making a meaningful difference in the town where he first caught the eye of college recruiters as a defensive back of the state-champion Elizabeth High School varsity.

Topps, Inc.

“Kids might read about me and know a little bit about me,” Greene says, “but my coming back and having free camps—getting the kids involved with football and teaching them the basics—is for me a joy, because they get to know me as a person. We get to meet and interact.”

Greene understands what the kids of the city are going through today. He lets them know that they should not hesitate to “dream big,” because you never know the opportunities that are out in front of you. In Greene’s case, his quickness and ferocious tackling prompted a move to linebacker his junior year at Rutgers. That decision changed his life. He instantly became one of the best at the position in the country and earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2012. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears and has been working hard to establish himself in the pros the last couple of seasons.

The kids at Waterfront Park don’t hear a lot of local success stories like Greene’s. Which is why he feels compelled to tell it. He hopes others from Elizabeth who find success follow his lead and come back to share their stories. “It’s a way to motivate a kid to want to do better, to make it somewhere in life for themselves,” he says. “It’s special that I get to be the guy that comes back and actually does camps and gets involved in the community the way I do. It’s definitely a big deal for me. I can’t even put it into words how excited I would’ve been to have been able to attend a camp like this when I was a kid.”

Greene found football as most young players in Elizabeth do, through his family. Several of his siblings, cousins, uncles—and especially his father—were first-rate athletes. His dad played college football at Purdue. But it was Greene’s mother who kept him laser-focused on sports. “I credit my mom for keeping me involved in and making me love the game the way I do.”

Not surprisingly, it’s all hands on deck for the Greene family when it comes to making the camp happen—from tutoring the players to serving food to passing out camp t-shirts. “Family is the reason why I grind, the reason I do what I do,” he smiles. “It means everything to me for them to be there.”

Editor’s Note: Andrew Feldman first crossed paths with Khaseem Greene on the Rutgers campus, where Andrew earned a degree in Sports Management. He has profiled other pro athletes from the Garden State for njsportsheroes.com, including Muhammad Wilkerson and Elaine Zayak, and authored histories of Rutgers basketball and Seton Hall baseball for the web site.