But my Jersey glory days are coming to an end. My wife Rachel and I have sold our home in Bergen County, and we are packing up shop. At the end of this month, we're moving... to Florida. Broward County to be exact.
While I am very excited about the change of venue and scenery, and extremely interested in pursuing the local food scene there, I am going to miss a ton of things in NJ, even though I will probably be travelling back here at least several times a year.
Here are some of my favorite things:
1) Top Notch Italian-American Food
Northern NJ residents have access to a ton of great Italian-American food, whether it is in Jersey itself or in nearby NYC, particularly in the Bronx on Arthur Avenue.
2) Pizza. See above.
3) High-Quality Asian Cuisine.
No question Jersey excels at Asian food, particularly Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese and Thai cuisine. While it exists in Florida, the state appears to have something of a "hybrid restaurant syndrome" where you see things like Sushi combined with Thai, Chinese mixed with Vietnamese, etc. Jersey excels at specialization.
Jersey also has a ton of great Asian supermarkets. Florida has some, but not to the extent what we have here.
4) Decent bagels.
It's pretty much a given that Florida's bagels are going to suck in comparison and I may have to end up getting them FEDEXed or learn actually how to make them.
Yes, Florida has TooJay's, but it's not in the same class as say, Hobby's Deli in Newark or any of the good Italian delis in North Jersey. All of the decent delis in Miami, like the Rascal House, are long gone. No pastrami which is even remotely comparable to Katz.
6) Newark's Ironbound / Paterson Main Street / Fort Lee-Palisades Park / Iselin
Yes, Florida has no lack of great Latin American restaurants, and Miami has an amazing Cuban community, but it's not the same as the melting pot that is Newark's ironbound where you can get some of the best Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian food in the entire country.
Similarly theres nothing in Florida that's even close to Main Street in Paterson where all of the major Middle-Eastern cuisines are represented. Or the incredibly authentic Korean food in Fort Lee and Palisades Park. Or the Indian food in Iselin or Jersey City. I could go on with similar cultural enclaves that just don't exist in South Florida.
7) Vibrant restaurant towns
There's certainly fine dining in Florida, but there aren't "Restaurant towns" like you see with say, Montclair, Ridgewood, or Red Bank. The towns in Florida are giant sprawling things rather than population-dense, so you have to drive a lot more to get what you want.
I loved being able to shop at local liquor stores, and bring my own wine to restaurants. It was one of the reasons why I became so interested in wine and kept my own collection in the first place. Now I'm just going to keep barely enough wine to drink for stuff I cook at home, because in Florida virtually every restaurant has a liquor license. However, the flip side is I won't be able to necessarily depend on the quality of a restaurant's beverage program.
Edited by Jason Perlow, 11 June 2012 - 02:03 PM.