Okay, I’m in total Mardi Gras mode. I’m serious; January begins the high holy days of winter, so why deny myself the comfort that only food and libations can provide? I’m done with setting goals on January 1st that I will ultimately reject. It’s when everybody falls off the wagon during March Madness that I buckle down and get serious. For now, I snuggle by the fire (read: candle) in my Snuggie, toast my feet in my Fuggs (fake-Uggs), pour myself Makers Mark (great Christmas present-- thanks brother!) in a cut-crystal bourbon glass, and snack on a plate filled with Spanish cheeses, Italian prosciutto, sliced pears, and spicy pecans. Put down the celery sticks and join me. Here are my picks of the season:
Cedar Lane Cinemas, 503 Cedar Lane, Teaneck (201) 836-3334: If you ever wondered what movie theaters were like when they were independently owned, come to Nelson Page’s Cedar Lane Cinemas. Nelson is a film aficionado and hosts screenings of young independent film-makers. He also gets all first-run shows with tickets priced at $4.75 for ALL showings. “Big Screen Classics” is an absolute hit -- American in Paris is playing January 20th, 8pm; The Godfather is showing on February 17th, 8pm. Jeff Barker is the theater’s resident organist and plays every Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Have dinner at one of Cedar Lane’s many great restaurants, and then support one of our last independent theaters. Dinner and a movie have never been more affordable. For more information, check out www.bigscreenclassics.com.
Garden State Pizza, 153 Bergen Blvd., Fairview (201)941-8510: Nothing screams comfort food better than Garden Pizza. Whether you order their incredible pizza (their Sicilian is the best I’ve ever tasted), or anything else from the menu that’s sinfully cheesy, this bring-your-own bottle neighborhood gem is like an intestinal Snuggie. Johnny, Rosa, and sons Alby, Tony and their entire staff put the smile behind the word service. You’ll never feel more welcomed! My son made me promise he can work here as soon as he’s old enough so he can eat for free.
Franco’s Metro Café, 1475 Bergen Blvd., Fort Lee (201) 461-6651: Who would ever expect to find a beautiful Italian bistro with a fully stocked bar in a strip mall? That’s Franco’s Metro Café. Although they dish up terrific pizza, their steak pizzaiola and veal marsala (along with everything else on the menu) is out of this world. And for goodness sake—they have a martini menu! Also a great place to host a bridal shower or family event.
In Napoli, 116 Main Street, Fort Lee (201) 947-2500: I have to give it up for hometown boy, Sam Gnasso. Sammy has been serving incredible food for so many years that In Napoli is a local legend; my generation’s Riviera Night Club. When Chef “Keith Moon” Sammy isn’t drumming with his band, he’s cooking up these incredible specials: Lobster Night, Delmonico Steak Night, and Sunset Three-Course Dinner Night. If you’re looking for a great place to lunch—this is it. The food is great, the service is over-the-top, and the bar is THE BEST. And the bartenders! Jamie borders on reverent when pouring bourbon, neat; and Kathy is like having your girlfriend behind the bar—fun, fun, fabulously fun! If you and your husband haven’t done the “bar scene” in an obscenely long time, Sammy’s bar is the place. You won’t feel out of place; it’s an older crowd; it’s a great night out. Karaoke night is a blast! Also, my grandmother used to live upstairs when it was a residential house in the ‘60’s—I can still smell the meatballs with raisins and pigniolis.
Deli on the Cliffs, 476 Sylvan Ave, (9W) Englewood Cliffs, (201) 894-5515: When you just want a terrific sandwich, and GREAT coffee, here’s the place to go. Best BLT I think I’ve ever had. Nice dining area; great place to meet someone for lunch. Friendly and accommodating staff. A real find; my favorite deli!
The best thing about these places—they’re owned by moms and dads, just like you and me so please support them.