Princeton is Prominent In First Central Jersey Restaurant Week
By Anne Levin
A few decades ago, Princeton might have been considered a culinary wasteland. That description could hardly apply today.
Food has become a key attraction in the downtown and surrounding area, so much so that Princeton Restaurant Week was launched last March. An expanded version, Central Jersey Restaurant Week, is currently underway through Sunday, offering special fixed price menus at several local eateries and others in locations including New Brunswick, Hamilton, Pennington, and Lawrenceville. Lunches are $20; dinners $35.
“The restaurants that took part in the first Princeton Restaurant Week were really happy with it, and some said they had their best week ever,” said Michelle Pirone Lambros, whose Princeton Promotions company is behind the effort. “Peter Crowley [president and CEO of the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce] asked me to do something broader than just Princeton, which is how the Central Jersey week came to be.”
The Chamber and the MacLean Agency are partnering with Princeton Promotions on Central Jersey Restaurant Week. Lambros, who was recently elected to Princeton Council, said plans are for the local event to continue each March, while the Central Jersey week will be an annual event each November. “We didn’t want them to conflict with each other,” she said. “Right now is a little bit of a lull before the holidays, which we thought would work well for the Central Jersey week.”
Local restaurants participating in the current promotion include The Alchemist & Barrister, Blue Point Grill, Despana, Elite Five Sushi & Grill, Iron & Ivy, La Mezzaluna, Lan Ramen, Local Greek, Metro North, PJ’s Pancakes (Kingston), Salt Creek Grille, Springdale Golf Club, Yankee Doodle Tap Room, Tortuga’s Mexican Village, Trattoria Procaccini, Winberie’s, and Witherspoon Grill.
Recent restaurant openings in Princeton include Kristine’s, a French bistro on Hinds Plaza; Elite 5 Sushi & Grill, next to Avalon Princeton on Witherspoon Street; Spice Grill, an Indian restaurant at 182 Nassau Street; KBG Korean Barbecue & Grill next door at 180 Nassau Street; Thai Pin, which shares the 180 Nassau Street address; Roots Ocean Prime, in the former Cargot location next to Princeton University’s Lewis Center on University Place; and Sakrid Coffee Roasters at 20 Nassau Street. Small Bites, opened by Local Greek, is next to Sakrid at 20 Nassau Street. The Meeting House, in the space where Two Sevens was formerly located on Witherspoon Street (next to Elite Five), is targeted to open next week.
“Years ago, there weren’t a lot of choices. But in Princeton, especially, restaurants are now doing well,” said Lambros. “I think they’re good for bringing business into town. We’re kind of known these days for having great places to eat.”
New restaurants outside of town include a branch of the famous Shake Shack chain, opening November 18 across from Quaker Bridge Mall on U.S. Route 1. The popular Lambertville barbecue restaurant More Than Q is set to open a branch in The Square at West Windsor (where Trader Joe’s is located), also on U.S. Route 1.
Eateries outside Princeton that are included in Central Jersey Restaurant Week include Chambers Walk Cafe in Lawrenceville, Blooming Grove Inn in Ewing, Bonefish Grill in Mercer Mall, Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, Hamilton Tap & Grill, Lola Restaurant in Robbinsville, Mizuki Asian Bistro in Pennington, Molto Bene Ristorante in Cranbury, Piccolo Trattoria in Pennington, Project Pub in Somerville, Revere Restaurant in Ewing, Spice Isle in Warren, and The Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick.
“The whole idea is to build on central New Jersey as a destination,” said Lambros.
Visit centraljerseyrestaurantweek.com for a full list and information.