When it comes to eating this spring, it is. As health and safety restrictions continue to ease and the restaurant scene comes alive, eating out is a safer and, in many cases, more scenic option.
Here’s a guide to some of New Jersey’s top venues serving delicious food with a side of sensational views:
Batello, Jersey City
A multi-purpose space located along the Hudson, the rustic-chic vibe of Batello, and sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline are perfect for a casual night out with friends or a more dressy special event. With the incredible waterfront location, live music on weekends and the cool rustic and industrial charm – “when you dine here you feel like you are on vacation,” said Events Director Dominique Calafiore. An Italian-based and seafood-influenced menu completes the waterfront experience. Since the restaurant often hosts private events, you’ll want to call ahead or make a reservation. Outdoor tables are available weather permitting; they cannot be reserved but must be requested on arrival. Click here for more information.
Address: 502 Washington Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07310
Cafe Matisse, Rutherford
Dining in a European-style garden will make you feel as inspired as the impressionist painter who gave this artistic place his name. The simple and elegant Café Matisse is currently open five evenings a week with two seats at 5:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. and offers a fixed-price four-course menu that evolves to reflect the season’s offerings. Housed in what was originally a fire station for horses and strollers, the play area has recently been expanded to accommodate more guests in time for summer. The garden patio, which seats 25, adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the dining experience. Reservations are required and can only be made by phone, (201) 935-2995.
Address: 167 Park Ave., Rutherford, NJ 07070
Toscana Ristorante, Cherry Hill
Treat yourself to a pleasant meal in the Toscana’s charming garden seating area. Recently upgraded to meet the increased desire for alfresco dining, the large outdoor space can accommodate 40 people on the upper level and 75 on the lower level and features lush foliage, a fountain, and plenty of string lights to create the atmosphere. Serving a mix of traditional Italian dishes with some of the latest trends making their way across Italy, the family-run restaurant now also offers guests a selection of beers and wines. While Toscana accepts requests for outdoor seating when booking, tables are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Click here to find out more.
Address: 1990 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
The Windlass, Hopatcong Lake
Delicious meals and incredible views of Hopatcong Lake make for an unforgettable experience at this historic Nolan’s Point restaurant. The family-run restaurant offers delicious meals on the indoor and outdoor porch, live music and events all year round. Built during a tourism boom in the 1800s, the restaurant was once part of an amusement park and ice rink. Today, the windlass reflects its history and lakeside culture with a waterfront patio and outdoor gliders where guests can enjoy the beauty of the lake and the surrounding area. Click here to find out more.
Address: 45 Nolans Point Park Road, Lake Hopatcong, NJ 07849
Rat Restaurant, Hamilton Township
A charming and exotic getaway located on the Grounds For Sculpture, Rat’s Restaurant will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the pages of a storybook. Named for a legendary character from “Le vent dans les saules”, the place resembles Claude Monet’s beloved town of Giverny and offers French country cuisine, seasonal artisan cocktails and an eclectic menu of beers and wines. . With its spectacular views and rustic touches, it’s easy to see why this extraordinarily charming location is a favorite for fine dining, celebrations, and events and has been ranked among the region’s most romantic places. Open for indoor and outdoor meals by reservation only. Click here to make a reservation.
Address: 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
Ninety Acres, Peapack
Savor the art of fine food and wine, reveling in the process of growing, harvesting, preparing and tasting each bite in the beautiful landscape where it was cultivated. “A table at the farm” awaits you at Ninety Acres, where epicureans can indulge their passion for food and wine in a serene setting reminiscent of the unspoiled English countryside. Ninety Acres is the site of the renovated Natirar Estate shed. Anagram of “Raritan,” the huge 491-acre estate spans what is now Highway 206 to the north branch of the Raritan River and straddles Peapack-Gladstone, Far Halls and Bedminster. The outdoor patio greets guests with the warm glow of fireplaces, while various open-concept dining spaces create an easy flow inside. Click here for more information.
Address: 2 Main St., Peapack, NJ 07977
Lambertville station restaurant and inn, Lambertville
Housed in a charming restored train station on the banks of the Delaware River, Lambertville Station Restaurant is a must-see for dining enthusiasts in the area. For more than 40 years, the place has grown into a foodie destination and a popular venue for special events. Diana Reiter, general manager, said this year the restaurant saw its popularity rise as patrons enjoyed a weekend getaway to Lambertville and New Hope, Pa. (Which is within walking distance on a catwalk near). A variety of dining spaces include the 32-table patio with canal-side dining or the new six-table garden which offers stunning river views. Inside there is a pub and wine cellar as well as the ‘platform’ dining room with huge picture windows to take in the spectacular views. Outdoor tables are allocated on a first come, first served basis and cannot be reserved in advance. It is recommended that guests make an indoor reservation and then, upon arrival, ask if an outdoor table is available. Click here for more information.
Address: 11 Bridge St., Lambertville, NJ 08530
Kerry Serzan is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Star-Ledger. A new one for life Jerseyan, she lives “Down the Shore” in Sea Girt with her husband Joe and their children.