For The Locals

For The Locals

For The Locals

WILDWOOD, NEW JERSEY - MAY 27: A restaurant worker cleans tables along the boardwalk days before the Memorial Day weekend, the un-official start of summer, on the Jersey shore on May 27, 2021 in Wildwood, New Jersey. Wildwood, like many beach communities throughout the United States, is looking for a successful and busy summer season after staying mostly closed or partially open last summer due to Covid-19 restrictions. Many resort community retail businesses are also suffering from a shortage of labor as some workers are choosing to stay home and others have changed career paths.

Back in May 2023, I did a list of hidden gem restaurants suggested by New Jersey folks. I have encountered quite a few kindred spirits during my internet travels. If you want to see the original list, just click the link below.

Original 2023 Hidden Gems List Can Be Found Here.

I enjoy finding new places to eat. What I love most is finding old places that are new to me.

The history of several long-standing New Jersey restaurants such as the Smithville Inn excites me. It’s like traveling back in time to an era very different from the modern-day eateries we frequent.

The original Smithville Inn was built by James Baremore back in 1787.

According to the Smithville Inn’s website, “It was just one room on a well –traveled stagecoach route and it may not have been planned as an inn. But houses were far between in those days, and word of the Baremore’s hospitality spread until inn keeping became their living.”

His family continued to operate the Inn through the years and by 1874, it had grown to six times its original size, and its fame seemed permanently established. Yet sometime after the turn of the twentieth century, it was abandoned.

In 1949, the Inn was rediscovered. Its long and colorful past was carefully studied, and in 1952 a local couple purchased the Inn and seven acres of property, restoring the structure and opening it in 1952 as a 42-seat restaurant.
The best part besides their incredible chicken pot pie, is the Historic Smithville Inn has been designated as a Historic site by the United States Government.

Not every hidden gem is going to be historic and that’s ok.

Traveling around the Garden State is fun and educational. Learning about towns I’ve never been to, restaurants I’ve never eaten in, and people I’ve never met.

I’ve met people I never expected to be friends with during my travels.

I perused through some of my favorite Jersey sites, and social media food pages and came across a thread where New Jersey folks were discussing their favorite hidden gems.

Now, it’s time for me to share Part 1 of some of the places that piqued my interest in early 2024. I hope they pique yours as well.

  • The Walpack Inn - 7 National Park Service Road Route 615, Walpack Township, NJ 07881

    Mentioned by Frank V. and other hidden gem seekers, The Walpack Inn is literally hidden in Sussex County. Tucked away in the heart of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and run by Jim Heigis Darco, son of original owners, Adam & Louise.

    My evening would start off with a cocktail followed by their Triple Cheese and Onion Soup. A hearty beef broth simmered with caramelized onions and Port Wine, topped with mozzarella, Swiss, and Gruyere Cheeses.

    For dinner, I go for either the Teriyaki Rib Eye, or the 14 oz Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus, slow cooked in their custom oven allowing the meat to retain flavor and tenderness.

  • E & V - 320 Chamberlain Ave, Paterson, NJ 07502

    I’ve seen this place mentioned many times in the chicken parm group I belong to. It’s been around since 1967, and serves large portions of old world Italian cuisine. Reasonably priced food in an old school atmosphere.

  • Sammy's Ye Old Cider Mill AKA Sammy's Steakhouse - 353 Mendham Rd W, Mendham Township, NJ 07945

    Sammy’s is one of the oldest family owned restaurants in the state. Now this place has some cool history!  This steakhouse in a former speakeasy offers prime cuts, with cocktails served in a basement bar. 

    Victoria P. said that her grandmother used to go here when it was a speakeasy. Betsy mentioned that she met former NJ Governor, Chris Christie here about 8 years ago and also mentioned how great the steak and lobster are.



  • The Stack - 205 River Rd, North Arlington, NJ 07031

    Dani H. brought this classic American food joint to my attention. It looks old school with booths and tables, kind of like a diner. Serving good old American breakfast, lunch, & dinner. I’d go just for the breakfast sausage. It’s those big fat hearty links that go great with pancakes and eggs. Oh, and the pancakes look amazing. So light and fluffy.



  • Luigi's Rancho - 480 US-46, Belvidere, NJ 07823

    Bruce S. was the first to mention Luigi’s and John D. followed up with a past experience by saying, “Many years ago we would spend the weekend fishing in Mountain lake and we went there for dinner a few times … friends still go there.” Luiigi’s has been around since 1939!

    Luigi’s serves Italian-American cuisine and seafood. Many spoke of the cozy rustic atmosphere and the ample food portions. I was advised to finish my meal with their amazing Limoncello cake.

  • The Harvest Moon Inn - 1039 Old York Rd, Ringoes, NJ 08551

    New American cuisine in a formal dining room or a rustic tavern in an 1811 Federal-style building. I’m a sucker for any restaurant that has a fireplace and a piano.

    The current menu has a Pan Roasted Pekin Duck Breast with roasted sweet potatoes, maple glazed delacota squash, and broccoli in a bourbon and roasted shallot demi glace . That sounds fabulous. But if I’m sitting on the tavern side, a burger and an ice cold beer are in order.





  • Christine's - 42 First Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

    We have several hidden gems on the Jersey Shore, including this romantic Italian fine dining restaurant. Chris B loves this place! The owner, Ron Marino is from my old stomping grounds on Long Island. I look forward to meeting Chef Marino someday.  Christine’s menu features many familiar favorites as well as a welcome twist or two in the form of daily specials.   


  • Tortuga’s Mexican Village - 41 Leigh Ave, Princeton, NJ 08542

    Susan E. mentioned Tortuga’s as one of her favorite hidden gems. Located in Princeton perfectly nestled in a residential neighborhood, with just a few commercial properties nearby. It’s a BYOB joint with an authentic Mexican menu that includes vegetarian options. Princeton is one of my favorite towns to visit. 


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