Boozy Burbs Year in Review 2018

Another year has passed, which means we’ll try to find some inner spiritual meaning and reflect on the last twelve months… ok so we won’t that. But we do — as always — feel grateful for everyone who follows us whether you come to the website and check it regularly, just follow us on Instagram and like the photos, or you’re a die hard newsletter fan — waiting in anticipation every Sunday for the news of the week.

Considering most of the scouring, compiling, photographing, and writing is done by a team of one — without corporate budgets and writers who live out of state — we are proud of our attempt to bring you the news of food in mostly Bergen, and how the landscape has changed in just a few (we think it’s six, though no Harvard PhDs are employed here to help count) short years.

What was trending in 2018? Lots of new restaurants… as always we saw 100? 200? new openings this year. Everything from big chains (Bar Louie, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Playa Bowls, Bareburger, Ruth’s Chris), heavily lauded chefs (The Hill, Stone & Rail), local mini chains (Jack’s Lobster Shack, Patrizia’s, Bobcat’s Texas BBQ, Sparta Taverna), ethnic supermarkets (H Mart, Gourmanoff, 99 Ranch Market), fruit bowls (Bowl Shake, Sweetberry Bowls), plenty of pizza (Pizza King, Tomato & Co, Johnny’s Napkins, Urban Tomato) and many small independent shops… too many to list them all (Marinade, Kinyobi, Caffeine, Empanada Central, Ice Cream by Mike, Blaze’d Chicken, Il Freno Espresso Bar, Dumpling Den, Shoti Bread House).

We’d also like to take a moment and bid a bon voyage to one of the few unique voices in the New Jersey dining scene. Tommy and his namesake blog tommy:eats have gone into a self-imposed retirement since his move to North Bolivia?!? or someplace like that earlier this year. Tommy, we’ll miss the humor, the laughs, and the veiled criticisms. Good luck on the next chapter.

Where do we go from here? We’ll keep digging for tidbits on new restaurants — yes, it’s not just press releases (though they can be useful), who has the loudest voice, or obsessing over celebrity chef pedigree around here — and look forward to your tips, comments and recommendations. We also hope to announce the 2019 edition of Boozy Burbs Food Hall, the hugely successful food event we hosted in April at Biagio’s/The Terrace in Paramus.

Before we sign off, there were a few bites from new restaurants we quite enjoyed and feel the need to share. Think of this as a list of “new favorite dishes” from 2018:

Casa Del Taco in Cliffside Park (View Menu) is exactly what we want from a taqueria or Mexican restaurant. It’s not a huge fancy space, has a small menu, and the food is tasty — we find that tacos at most local “authentic” (whatever that means) Mexican eateries lack flavor or have very dry meat. Not these tacos.

BBQ and beer are such a great combo and that is very evident at Gentle Giant Brewery in Pearl River (Visit Website). Owner Matt Worgul’s ribs and wings are standouts which you should wash down with one of their house brewed craft beers.

Poke is like everywhere. Japanese restaurants, supermarkets and even acai bowl shops are jumping on the bandwagon. Poke Crew in Englewood (Visit Website) has elevated themselves above the pack with ingredients and more importantly fish that stands above the rest.

You don’t have to do much to get us interested in a potato side dish, the smashed fingerling potatoes were just excellent at Jaime Knott’s new casual eatery Saddle River Cafe (Visit Website). Fried and salty AF.

And while it’s not technically a new restaurant, the new pizza menu is a big change/addition at Hudson 303 in Tappan (Visit Website), and it is a home run. Owner and pizzaiolo William Cho’s obsession with all things dough shine through in his hybrid Neapolitan pies cooked in an imported wood-burning oven. Don’t be turned off by the driving range location, Hudson 303 is a real deal restaurant.

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