Category Archives: Restaurants

Between Trenton itself and its inner suburbs (Lawrence, Hamilton, Ewing) you have a wonderfully diverse set of inexpensive, ethnic restaurants close-by. Drive to the “outer” suburbs (Princeton, Bordentown, Hopewell, Lambertville, New Hope), and you can find wonderful, upscale dining.

French-ish (Cargot Brasserie)

Cafe Un, Deux, Trois  is one of our “go to” places in New York City for a meal before a Broadway show.  Cargot — an updated, Princeton-take on a similar dining concept — may assume a similar role for when we take in a show at McCarter (which is literally across the street). Cargot opened … Continue reading French-ish


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Ecuadorian Dream (El Negro de Oro)

El Negro de Oro (“Black Gold”) is the only Trenton restaurant we know that specializes in Ecuadorian cuisine, including such traditional dishes as: Hornado (roast pork) — at El Negro it’s served with hominy corn, Maiz Tostado (toasted corn nuts), potato cake, and salad (see header image). Seco de Chiuo — a rich, slow-braised goat … Continue reading Ecuadorian Dream


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Way Out West Trenton Avenue (Non Solo Pasta Ristorante)

Non Solo describes itself as serving “southern italian cuisine”: the menu provides most of the red-sauce “Italian” classics boomers will remember from their childhood: plus about a dozen veal or chicken dishes ranging from the omnipresent Francese to more exotic preparations like Saltimbocca or Romano. There’s also a fair selection of sea food, salads, and a nice selection of specials (15 on the day we visited).


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Last Pie-Man Standing (DeVito's Pizza IV)

DeVito’s Pizza IV is a neighborhood joint that makes great Neapolitan-style pizza (aka NY style). As far as we know, it is now the oldest pizza joint under continuous management within the city limits, having been founded in February of 1985. Devito’s pie isn’t “gourmet”, but it’s a really well executed version of a classic pizza. The rim is crispy and flavorful, and it’s topped with ample, good quality cheese, which is a nicely balanced with the sauce and crust. The, extra large (18″) pie is also a bargain.


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Subtle Sazon-ing (El Sazon Restaurant)

El Sazon is a friendly, Dominican restaurant located in one of my favorite dining spaces in Trenton: the former “Filling Station” at 501 Division St. The food is other worldly. It’s run superbly by a single family: Gloria is the chef, while her 40-something daughter, Mildred, waits tables, and her kid-sister Lily works both the … Continue reading Subtle Sazon-ing


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NE of the Border (Aurelio's Cocina Latina)

Aurelio’s serves the best Latino cuisine in Princeton. There are something like half a dozen restaurants in Trenton that are as good or better, and at least 2 in Hamilton. Still, operating an inexpensive restaurant with good food in Princeton is no small feat, and if you like Aurelio’s, you owe it to yourself to start exploring Trenton restaurants as well.


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East meets Mid-West (Michael's Diner)

Michael’s is a decent diner that supports a very good salad bar.  If you enjoy salad bars, you can get a great salad and a good, filling, fresh-cooked meal for not a lot of money. It’s open 7 days, early and late. NJ diners, collectively, should be a national institution. Where else can you get … Continue reading East meets Mid-West


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Squirreled Away (Squirrels Nest Cafe)

OK, I admit to loving dives. Especially ones like this where the sensibilities of the owner, even wacky ones, are plain to see. It reminds me of the places I used to eat growing up, from a time when most restaurants were owner operated, and McDonald’s were found only in California. In Manhattan, you might … Continue reading Squirreled Away


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Country Comfort (Hamilton's Grill Room)

Jim Hamilton, a Broadway set designer turned restaurateur, started Hamilton’s Grill (“HG”) more than 25 years ago. As you’d expect from a set designer, place and settings are impeccable. The restaurant is tucked away on a quiet alley. HG’s menu has been farm to table long before that term entered popular consciousness. The menu changes seasonally, and there are always a few specials. The food is simple, but exceptionally high quality and perfectly presented, featuring grilled seafood and meats. Unusually for a restaurant of this quality, it’s BYOB.


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