Zinburger's Burger of the Weeks | Courtesy of Zinburger
A few miles west of New York City sits the quiet city of Clifton, New Jersey. Known for great places to shop and eat, Clifton is perfect for people trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Try one of these 10 Clifton restaurants to get a taste of the local flavor.
Experience real Italian cuisine at the unassuming restaurant La Riviera Gastronomia. The décor is simple, the owners focus all of their efforts on excellent food and service. With a menu and specials board full of classic Italian dishes and genuine, caring service, you’ll feel like part of the family. Try the homemade cavatelli pasta served with broccoli rabe, sausage, and sun-dried tomatoes or the delicious penne a la vodka. Every traditional recipe is made with care to keep the classic flavors flowing. The meals are great value with generous portions.
Start with an avocado salad served with sliced avocados, romaine lettuce, red onions, peppers, and tomatoes in a light dressing and one of the tasty flavored margarita options. Try the Tavern margarita, a huge margarita glass filled with 32 ounces of margarita, two shots of tequila, and two whole beers. The Cantina also has a huge selection of appetizers, like the freshly made nachos, which are loaded with melted cheese, refried beans, jalapeños, pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. Also, be sure to have the bunuelo, a fried donut ball, for dessert.
Taste the slow-cooked, smoky flavors of Mighty Quinn’s melt-in-your-mouth meats. The small chain sources high-quality ingredients, and head chef Hugh Mangum, a native Texan, prepares the barbeque with a touch of salt and spice to add a hint of savory flavor. Mangum takes his favorite parts of Texas and Carolina’s traditional preparation methods to create his own recipes. Those with insatiable appetites should try the brontosaurus rib, a full beef short rib, a whole pound of smoked tender meat falls right off the bone and into your mouth. Numerous side dishes star on the menu, like baked beans with burnt ends, sweet potato casserole with maple and pecans, and buttermilk broccoli salad.
Matthew’s Italian Restaurant, a modest-looking joint, has some of the best Italian fare in the area. The dimly lit interior gives the restaurant a romantic atmosphere that is perfect for dates. The owner, Matthew Tyahla, is present and engaged with diners, and the service is exceptional. Although it’s not much to look at from the outside, the food is perfectly prepared and presented with care. Try the popular hangar steak served with broccoli rabe, Italian long hot peppers and potatoes or the veal marsala served with mushrooms and brown sauce.
Sample some Mediterranean Cuisine at Toro’s Restaurant, a small chain with a location in Clifton. Babaganus, pureed smoked eggplant with garlic and sesame oil, is a great starter before entrées of falafel, kebabs, and more. The staff is accommodating and helpful with recommendations, and the food is prepared with the freshest ingredients. Colorful Turkish décor makes the interior atmospheric and authentic. Try a traditional Turkish dish like hunkar begendi, a classic meal made with baked chunks of lamb or chicken served on eggplant puree.
If you’re in Clifton, New Jersey, you’ve got to stop by Rutt’s Hut. The home of the Ripper, a deep-fried hot dog, opened in 1928 as a simple roadside hot dog stand. The yellow-tinted signature relish is made with a blend of mustard and secret spices. Aside from their Ripper dogs, Rutt’s Hut has a selection of burgers, sandwiches, and side dishes, but their Rippers, deep-fried until they split down the middle, are their claim to fame.
Zinburger's Burger of the Weeks | Courtesy of Zinburger
Ino Sushi is a family-owned Japanese restaurant serving fresh sushi for lunch and dinner. The menu is simple, but it has all of the classic sushi options you would expect. Try the delicious, fresh sushi from the sushi bar. The bar seats 16 and is a great way to see authentic Japanese sushi being made in person. The owners make a point of getting involved with the customers and help you choose the best sushi from the list. The atmosphere is comfortable and intimate, but the limited space means it is best to avoid busy times. For dessert, try the mochi ice cream as a light, tasty treat.
Enjoy gourmet burgers and fine wines at Zinburger, an upbeat restaurant that brings together two fantastic food items. Gourmet burger options include the eponymous Zinburger with manchego cheese and Zinfandel braised onions or the breakfast burger, made with a fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, and American cheese. The restaurant also has fresh salads packed with high-quality toppings. Although it is a simple premise, the restaurant has a classy feel because of subtle touches like its extensive local beer selection and food and wine pairings. If wine isn’t your drink of choice, try one of Zinburger’s specialty milkshakes.
For authentic Thai food that many have said is the best in the area, try Clifton Thai Restaurant. From excellent pad Thai and pad see ew to Penang curry and a refreshing green papaya salad, Clifton Thai has a classic selection. The food at Clifton Thai tends to be on the spicy side, but any option on the menu will be made with fresh food and prepared using traditional recipes. The family who owns the restaurant works hard to provide great food and friendly, helpful service. The restaurant is small, so avoid busy meal times or be prepared for a wait.
Clifton has a seemingly endless amount of Italian restaurants, but a spot that stands out from the crowd is Sergio’s Bistro. The white tablecloths and eclectic décor give Sergio’s its classy but warm and welcoming ambiance, making it a perfect date spot. The chefs at Sergio’s specialize in high-quality Italian food, and they provide plenty of options on their extensive menu with daily specials. Many dishes include fresh seafood and delicious, house-made pasta. The fried calamari is a tasty appetizer choice. As your entrée, try the ravioli alla Sergio, fresh ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta cheese served in a pink vodka sauce. Reservations are recommended because the restaurant is small and fills up quickly.