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Wife's B-day tonight... where to go?


love4god
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Hey all, looking for a nice place to take my wife for her birthday tonight. I live in Lakehurst and could drive up to about an hour. As far north as Red Bank and as far south as maybe LBI/Stafford are and anywhere in between. We just moved here from CA and don't have a lot of dining experience here.

She loves steak and Italian so either would be great. She isn't very partial to asian (except Thai) or seafood, but we both also love Mexican.

Doesn't have to be romantic, just fantastic food. Any ideas? thanks.

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You might call Bistro Ole in Asbury Park (732 897 0048) or Raspberry Cafe in Ocean Grove (732 988 0071) to be sure they are open on Monday, but both have terrific food. Both are BYO. If you do want romantic and good - if not brilliant - food, there's Matisse in Belmar (732 681 7680) and Moonstruck in Asbury Park (732 988 0123). Moonstruck has a liquor license. I don't remember if Matisse does.

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My NJ geography is always fuzzy--I am apparently still in rebellion against the fifth grade teacher who tried to make us memorize all of the counties--is Trenton inside of your available area? I went to this little (my parents always claimed crime-family run) Italian restaurant for my birthday in 1997. It was perfect in the sense that it had character, good food, and decent wine. It is not fine dining by any means, but it is as local as good local food gets in NJ. I can try and track the name down for you if you are interested.

Other options include Princeton, where there is always something halfly decent to be had. I usually hit Teresa's when I am in town, it's an Italian place (and has another location in New Brunswick)... The food can be a little bland, but for nice romantic strolling, Princeton is key.

And, in a shout out to home towns: Try the Cranbury Inn. George Washington slept there. The food is okay but the room is great. Have you seen the movie IQ? The scene in the restaurant takes place in the dining room at the Cranbury Inn. And while I only caught the closing shot, I pretty sure that Food TV's Food Finds did a segment on the Inn. I once spent a New Year's Eve at the Inn, and was a good 30 years younger than everyone else--but it was still a raucous good time.

If you are looking for something more foodie, hit either NYC or Philadelphia. That's the great thing about central NJ, either one is only an hour away--you can even take the train.

-Emily

----------------------------------------------

Emily in London

http://www.august18th2007.com

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If it's not too late then maybe Jeffrey's, 73 Main Street, Toms River, has a lot to recommend it; promixity to you, not cheap but not ultra-expensive, and fairly well-regarded (a high mark in Zagats); BYOB. A bit farther afield is the Spargo Grille on Route 33 in Manalapan.

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