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Food Shopping in Central Jersey


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Recently I moved in with my Beau in North Brunswick. Since I am a native New Yorker I am used to the specialty shops and places like Fairway where good meats and serious ingredients are easy to come by. Since I moved here(and the Beau isn't a "food" person), I've only been to the big supermarkets. We live on Rte. 27 between Princeton and New Brunswick. Please point me in the right direction. :smile:

Kitchen Kutie

"I've had jutht about enough outta you!"--Daffy Duck

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Hey! Where ya been?

It's a little bit north of me But I know Rosie is familiar with the area. She did take me to a great Asian market on Rt 27, I believe it was in or near Edison.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I'm looking for the usual suspects: good cuts of meat, fresh herbs, good produce(apparently news of shallots hasn't reached here) without too long a drive. Otherwise I will just have to shlep stuff out of the city(on the bus!) after work.

Kitchen Kutie

"I've had jutht about enough outta you!"--Daffy Duck

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Route 27 is loaded with great places to buy food!

Wegman's doesn't even scratch the surface. (although it is certainly far better than any store you can find in Manhattan)

For great cuts of meat go to the PA Dutch Market that's not far from where you say you are. There are stands there that sell outsanding meat and poultry. The rest is fun but nothing special. Do NOT under any circumstances get excited about their monthly pig roast. It's awful.

Fresh produce and herbs? Try the Whole Earth Center in Princeton. They also have a great selection of bulk cereals and grains - I counted 27 granolas last week.

Farm visits are another shopping possibility for you. Terhune Orchards has great stuff and a shop that's open all year 'round. Simply Grazin' Farm in Hopewell is one of the area's best producers of meat. (both have websites somewhere or other and are located within 20 minutes of Princeton)

You might also consider driving NORTH on 27. Look for a cluster of Mexican markets in New Brunswick but keep on going! Highland Park has a large Glatt Kosher supermarket and the giant Asian Foods Center will be on your left as you enter Edison. At this point, you're in an area that strongly resembles Queens or Brooklyn in shopping possibilities.

BTW...this drive will also pass several dozen great, inexpensive restaurants, but that's another post.

Route 27 is food shopping heaven!

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Just the info I needed. I've passed most of those places many times.! Food cruising is probably the best thing to do on a rainy weekend anyway. :smile:

Kitchen Kutie

"I've had jutht about enough outta you!"--Daffy Duck

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Food cruising is probably the best thing to do on a rainy weekend anyway.

Not only is food cruising the best thing to do on a rainy weekend, it's also the best thing to do on a sunny weekend, or a snowy weekend too. And Route 27 is the best food crusing strip in central NJ. (although maybe it's tied with Oak Tree Road)

BTW...while you're at it. Stop off for a delicious green tea drink at the Igloo Tea House, across from the Asian Food Center. Oh yeah...there's a nice Vietnamese grocery next to the Igloo...then head up to the Wonder Seafood Restaurant for Dim Sum...then...

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I can't say what it's been like in the last year and a half, but when I lived in the area, there were frequent problems with Whole Earth having moldy stuff way past the expirations dates out on their shelves... Never did a whole lot for me!

All of the other places mentioned were great, though...

An odd alien wench

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Hi Shermar,

you might also want to consider McCafferty's Market, on Harrison Street in Princeton, specifically for their butcher, and Bon Appetit in the same shopping center, for cheeses. In season, it's worth the 20 minute drive up to Lawrence to the Trenton Farmer's market. Subzhu Indo-Pak grocers, on Route 130 in North Bruns by Rennaissance development has a very helpful staff. The new Shop Rite is supposed to have a great ethnic Food selection as well, perhaps more packaged than bulk.

The gren grocer on Route 1 and Aaron Rd. is inexpensive..you need to pick carefully but great variety..and the fish monger there is helpful, they have a VERY high turnover, so its fresh, if not particularly exotic.

Edison has great Asian Markets..if you are mostly in th eSouthern area of North Brusnswick, you might also want to consider the Asain Market in Plainsbor, in the Plainsboro Shopping Center, Plainsboro Road off of Scudder's Mill Rd.

Of course, in my humble opinion, it all pales in comparison to Wegman's,the Disney World of foodies.

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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Wegman's doesn't even scratch the surface. (although it is certainly far better than any store you can find in Manhattan)

Whoa! That's a pretty bold statement. I've been to the Wegman's in Bridgewater. Their pastry selection is wonderful. Produce is outstanding. However the cheese and fish departments left quite a bit to be desired. While Wegman's may be a better overall place to shop than any one store in Manhattan (I still disagree) I'd take the Fairway/Citarella block of the UWS any day. (minus the pastries).

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I may have made a bold statement, but New Jersey is a pretty big state.

Our best stores easily equal the selection of the best in Manhattan and have far lower prices. Of course, that size is also a problem. There is no block in New Jersey that is the equivalent of the Fairway one.

Wegman's is outstanding for a chain supermarket, but our specialty stores are just as outstanding. My own favorite cheese selection in NJ is at Artisanal Bread & Cheese in Chester, but if I were getting in the car to buy the stuff, I'd wind up at the farm of a serious cheesemaker, not a store.

Fish is another story. I love Captian Fresh in Watchung and Mitsuwa in Edgewater, but I suspect there is much better that I haven't found yet.

So, I will stand behind my statement in terms of quality, but back off on the location aspect. We Jersanians can't hop from one shop to another, city style. But when we head off to some far flung destination for something wonderful, we get it, and we get it for far lower prices than you big city folk pay.

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I can't argue one bit about pricing. Food shopping in NYC is expensive. I am no longer a NYC resident, having moved to NJ almost two years ago now. I have yet to find a place in NJ that has fish remotely as good as what is available at Citarella or Wild Edibles. My local fishmonger (Westfield Seafood) is okay for a few items, but to me, the fish often looks just a drop tired. I would much rather pay a few dollars more for outstanding quality.

I often shop at the Whole Foods in Madison and Milburn. The fish department at both places is fine, but nothing more than that. There wasn't a piece of fish there that made me want to buy it and cook it. Granted it was Sunday. However, last Thursday evening I was in Citarella on the UWS. I was disappointed that we were having dinner in NYC, because I couldn't believe how many things I wanted to buy from the fish counter. I was in the Whole Foods in Milburn yesterday afternoon. I asked the person at the cheese counter if they had Roncal. He pointed it out to me. It was already pre-cut and saran wrapped with an expired sell by date on it. I couldn't have been more turned off. Today I will stop by the admittedly overpriced Artisinal and pick up some Roncal. Chester is a beautiful area, but about an hour from me. I just can't picture traveling that far for a half pound of Tallegio.

I work in NYC, and pick up cheese regularly from Artisinal and Murray's. If we know we want fish for dinner, I stop at Wild Edibles (very expensive) or Citarella. Pretty much every Friday I leave NYC with a small bag of groceries.

There is a Town and Country wine shop in Westfield that has some good cheeses that aren't prepackaged. The prices are okay too. My complaint is the limited selection.

I'd love to try the fishmongers in Watchung or Edgewater. Watchung is much closer, but still must be at least 20-25 minutes from me. How far is it from Blue Star Shopping Center on Route 22?

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Its been some time but I thought there where a couple of places in Red Bank. Up in the Maple and west front area.

Living hard will take its toll...
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I have yet to find a place in NJ that has fish remotely as good as what is available at Citarella or Wild Edibles

Han Ah Reum. But if you come all the way to Ridgefield or go to the Philly or Cherry Hill locations I recommend you get yourself a big cooler with ice in it.

Why I Love Han Ah Reum

Han Ah Reum (Original Thread)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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love to try the fishmongers in Watchung or Edgewater.  Watchung is much closer, but still must be at least 20-25 minutes from me.  How far is it from Blue Star Shopping Center on Route 22?

Captain Fresh is in the same center as BJ's. Just go down Terrill Road and turn left onto 22. Fun place to shop.

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Mike C

There is something a bit unfair about your reply. Comparing Manhattan's best to a few second rate shops here in NJ just doesn't seem right. I will cheerfully compare a cheese made by Boblink Dairy in Vernon to what you're getting in Manhattan (flown in from another country!), but not something from the cheese section of a wine shop.

Han ah Rhum is better for fish than any of the places I mentioned. (I just revisited the place with new glasses) Remarkable quality and selection and an enviroment that would be impossible to recreate in the big city. If you're talking about that fish market in Westfield that plays jazz 88 and only sells fillets, this is a whole other league.

Can we at least compare comprables?

As for Westfield, it's a beautiful town, but the only food shop worth entering is La Crema Gelato.

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I'm gonna have to disagree with your hypothesis. You are taking the best of all the specialty shops in the entire state of NJ (or at least the northern part of NJ) and comparing it to a tiny area called Manhattan.

Let's say that you are having a dinner party. Do you pick up cheese in Chester, fish in Edgewater or Watchung, meat at Wegmans, and bread somewhere else? That sounds like a whole day affair to me.

If I'm having the same party, I could (for a premium) get every single ingredient I need at Fairway. If I was looking for that extra special fish I would go next door to Citarella.

Now to be fair, I've never tried the cheese from Bobolink or the fish from the place that Jason mentions. I would love to do so. But to do so would involve driving an insane amount of miles to sample these places wares. Instead, I can take the 1&9 from my office to the UWS and be back in a half hour.

I'm not saying that all these places in NJ are inferior to the markets in NYC. However I'm saying that in order to sample NYC's best it doesn't take much and there are numerous places to do so. To do the same in NJ would involve driving miles and miles and spending many hours. In addition there are less places to do this.

Westfield is a wonderful town. I'm just sorry to say that the markets don't match up to the town. I enjoy Teresa's, Mojave Grill, and Chez Catherine (Unfortunately Catherine sold and recently passed away). I love the fact that I can spend time outdoors with my daughter. I love that I don't have to worry if she is playing in the backyard. I love that the golf course is close by. However, having had experience with the NYC markets for many years, I have a hard time finding comparable quality in NYC.

I have made notes on all of the places mentioned in this thread. On a rainy afternoon I will try to hit a few of them and report back.

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Mike:

As I said before, nobody is suggesting that anything here in New Jersey is concentrated in the urban sense. The question was about quality food shopping on the Route 27 Princeton/New Brunswick corridor. This stretch alone is twentyfive or thirty miles.

If you feel that driving these distances is "insane," then New Jersey shopping isn't for you, but it doesn't reduce the remarkable quality and variety of ingredients that are available to those who enjoy the trip. My own attitude is quite different - if I want cheese, I would rather spend an extra half hour in the car so I could meet the cows. For me, farm visits are one of New Jersey's great pleasures.

Your question about what I do when I entertain made me blush. The last time I had people over, I served them gelato from Westfield. I'm only about seven miles from there, but for something of that quality, I'd be willing to drive as far as I had to. My last dinner party featured smoked shrimp and grilled sardines, both purchased at Captain Fresh. (I should warn readers that I smoked them myself - the Captain doesn't sell them that way.)

As far as getting everything at Fairway, you don't just pay a premium in price, you pay a much larger price for being that much more removed from the people who produce your food.

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Well we went to Wegman's. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!! :rolleyes: Its GIGANTIC!! First, the liquor store--amazing and much better prices than the city! The cafe, the meats, the cheeses, the produce, the utensils, the tableware, the greeting cards, the books, the regular supermarket, the ethnic ingredient section, the lawn furniture, the bread, the pastries, the prepared foods, the seed packets...I could go on and on. Plus they're open till midnight 7 days a week! We had a blast! My Beau hasn't seen me that happy since I moved out here. :laugh:

I'll never totally give up Fairway, Citarella, Agata & Valentina, etc. (25 years in NYC) but now I know I won't starve! :laugh:

I am saving this thread so I can check out the other places you all have mentioned. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction! :biggrin:

Kitchen Kutie

"I've had jutht about enough outta you!"--Daffy Duck

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I have yet to find a place in NJ that has fish remotely as good as what is available at Citarella or Wild Edibles

Han Ah Reum. But if you come all the way to Ridgefield or go to the Philly or Cherry Hill locations I recommend you get yourself a big cooler with ice in it.

Why I Love Han Ah Reum

Han Ah Reum (Original Thread)

:blink:

dude, i don't see the fish there comparing to Wild Edibles, quality-wise. are ya sure?

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Byarvin,

We agree on some points and disagree on others. Again, since I haven't been to Bobolink or Captain Fresh, I can't really do an accurate comparison. But a few thoughts come to mind. Unless (and they may do this) Captain Fresh catches the fish himself and transports them from the water (in the back of his station wagon) to the store, then I don't see how the store is any closer to the actually producer (or in this case fisherman) than Fairway/Wild Edibles/Citarella. Actually I'd argue the contrary. Since the NYC stores that I just mentioned are relatively big operations, I would bet that they get some of the best selections from the Fulton Market. I will admit to not knowing a ton about the way the Fulton Market operates though.

As far as Bobolink or going direct to farms...can you get Roncal, Parmesean, Tomme de Savoie, Cabrales, etc. there? I would assume that you can get wonderful cheese there but if Bobolink is the actual producer, then the selection would most likely be very limited. If I was looking for cheese that Bobolink specialized in then by all means I would give it a try. But a limited selection can only get me so far. I go to the cheese counter at Artisinal and there are 100-150 different cheeses right in front of me. Again, while the idea of going from farm to farm to get apples, cheese, eggs, etc. is very romantic, I can't see it being a realistic way to shop.

This thread did start about Route 27. However I piped up in response to your comment that Wegmans was a better market than anywhere in NYC. FWIW, Wegmans is opening in Woodbridge this November. I am sure that I will be a frequent customer. I still don't think that it is a better market than anywhere in NYC.

In a bit of a non-sequitor, people kept mentioning a market called Corrado's (in Clifton I think) right off the Parkway. My In-Laws have friends from Maryland that make a special trip there each year to buy groceries. I thought, if it warranted a trip from Maryland, I better check it out, besides, I'm dying for a great market in NJ. My wife and I went when we were in the area. We spent about a half hour browsing around. I couldn't wait to leave. The place had a stench about it that was unbelievable. Plus I didn't see anything that even remotely interested me with the exception of some fresh pasta. I chalked it up to a serious difference of opinion.

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As for Westfield, it's a beautiful town, but the only food shop worth entering is La Crema Gelato.

Here we are in agreement. I find it strange that a town like Westfield could be so barren market wise.

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As for Westfield, it's a beautiful town, but the only food shop worth entering is La Crema Gelato.

Here we are in agreement. I find it strange that a town like Westfield could be so barren market wise.

do you mean that upper-middle class white folk settle for middle-of-the-road status quo?? :laugh:

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As for Westfield, it's a beautiful town, but the only food shop worth entering is La Crema Gelato.

Here we are in agreement. I find it strange that a town like Westfield could be so barren market wise.

do you mean that upper-middle class white folk settle for middle-of-the-road status quo?? :laugh:

Kind of...more like why doesn't some bright-eyed, bushy-tailed demographics guru realize that Westfield is a prime candidate for more interesting restaurants/markets. I mean is it fair that Montclair has 15+ restaurants with good food and some atmosphere and Westfield has like...three? We did get a Fujiyama Mama a few months ago. I haven't made it there yet.

I guess that's what you said with fewer words. :wink:

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