Turning Point to Host ‘Great Food for a Great Cause’ Event This Weekend (2/23 – 2/24)

Earn Turning Point gift cards and other prizes this weekend at the restaurant’s annual fundraiser benefiting pediatric brain cancer research.

South Jersey resident Kortney Rose Gillette lost her battle with brain cancer in 2006. She was nine years old. Just five months prior to her passing, Gillette was a healthy, vivacious youngster with a love for sports, water slides, and laughter.

Through the Kortney Rose Foundation (KRF) – named in her honor – Gillette’s legacy lives on. With a mission to “Help Get Brain Tumors Off Kids’ Minds,” KRF supports much-needed pediatric brain tumor research. Brain tumors are the number one cause of disease-related deaths in children.

For the tenth year in a row, Turning Point has partnered with KRF. Their annual “Great Food for a Great Cause” fundraiser will take place on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24 between 8 am and 3 pm. Diners who donate to the foundation during the event will receive Turning Point gift cards and other prizes (see list below).

Despite the prevalence of childhood brain cancer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) allocates only about 4% of its funding toward researching pediatric cancers. Of that 4%, just a tiny percentage is put toward brain tumor research.

KRF works to raise research funds for the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC). CBTTC, a collaborative initiative, unites sixteen worldwide research institutions dedicated to pediatric brain cancer research. Locally, CBTTC helps support the Neuro-Oncology Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Recognizing the need for research funding, Turning Point has raised $314,000 for KRF to date. This weekend’s event will take place at sixteen Turning Point locations, a dozen in New Jersey and four in Pennsylvania (see list below).

Donation levels & prizes:

Donate $25 to receive 2 free entrees on your next visit

Donate $50 to receive 4 free entrees on your next visit

Donate $60 to receive 4 free entrees on your next visit plus a Turning Point mug

Donate $100 to receive 8 free entrees on your next visit. The first two $100 donors at each location will also receive a custom doormat.

Gift cards are valid until 3/31/19.

Participating NJ Turning Point locations:

  • Brick
  • Cherry Hill
  • Hoboken
  • Holmdel
  • Little Silver
  • Long Branch
  • Manalapan
  • Marlton
  • Moorestown
  • Princeton
  • Sea Girt
  • Westfield

Participating PA Turning Point locations:

  • Blue Bell
  • Bryn Mawr
  • North Wales
  • Warrington
Turning Point seasonal special Sriracha Sweet Potato Hash

14+ South Jersey Food Events to Check Out This Weekend (2/15 – 2/17)

Banish cabin fever and head to one of these South Jersey venues for food and fun.

1. 3 Courses for $30 at Chubby’s Steakhouse, Sun. 2/17, 4 – 9 pm

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

For your appetizer, choose between soup or salad. For your main course, bite into a 7 oz. filet with mashed potatoes and asparagus sides. For dessert, treat yourself to a decadent chocolate torte – all for just $30.

3 courses: $30

Call ahead for reservations: (856) 456-CHUB (2482)

239 Monmouth St, Gloucester City, New Jersey

2. BBQ & Craft Beer Exchange at Mount Holly Lodge #14, Sat. 2/16, 5 – 9 pm

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Bring your favorite craft beer to share and enjoy pulled pork, baked chicken, and other barbecue favorites. Funds benefit the Free and Accepted Masons.

General Admission (21+): $20

Purchase tickets online.

15 Garden St, Mount Holly, New Jersey

3. Get Your Rub On hosted by I am Creative, Sat. 2/16, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Photo by Andra Ion on Unsplash

Bring your sweetie and get creative together. Create your own spice rub and dine on a four-course meal.

Purchase tickets online ($150 per couple). Vegetarian options available.

45 S Main St, Medford, NJ

4. International Dinner & Basket Auction for Crossing the Gap, Sat. 2/16, 6 pm – 9 pm

Photo by Andra Ion on Unsplash

Enjoy entertainment and a multi-cultural meal benefiting Crossing the Gap, an organization that supports Camden County’s refugee and immigrant populations.

General Admission: $25

Semi-formal. Childcare available. 

Tickets must be purchased in advance.

710 Collings Ave, Oaklyn, New Jersey

5. Junior Chef Cookie Baking Class at Kitchen 19, 2/16 11 am – 12:30 pm

Photo by Hannah Tasker on Unsplash

Kids between the ages of 8 and 13 can attend Kitchen 19’s Junior Chef class where they will learn to bake and decorate heart-shaped cookies.

Children (ages 8 – 13): $34

Purchase tickets online.

19 South 2nd Street, Hammonton, New Jersey

6. Kids Eat Free for President’s Day at Rodizio Grill, Sun. 2/17 & Mon. 2/18, 11 am – 9 pm

Photo by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash

Give your kids a taste of Brazil at Rodizio Grill, where they can eat free with the purchase of an adult Full Rodizio dinner.

One free kid’s meal for ages 11 & under with the purchase of one Full Rodizio adult dinner, which includes unlimited meat and salad. Offer only valid at Voorhees location.

13109 Town Center Blvd, Voorhees Township, New Jersey

7. MEOWentine’s Cookie Decorating at PURRsonal Space, Sat. 2/16 & Sun. 2/17, 1 – 5 pm

Photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash

Calling all cat lovers! Bring the kids to this cookie decorating event to support Lynn’s Animal Rescue. The event will take place at South Jersey’s favorite cat lounge.

Adults: $15
Children: $10

Purchase tickets online.

1005 Market Street, Palmyra, New Jersey

8. Multi-Cultural Dessert Bakeoff & Tasting at the Cherry Hill Library, Sat. 2/16, 2 – 4 pm

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Sample artistic sweet creations from around the world.

$5 for 5 tastes or $10 for 15 tastes (per person). Proceeds benefit library programming

1100 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

9. Sunday Brunch with Just the Gurlz at The Mansion, Sun. 2/17 at 12:30 pm

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

Bring your girlfriends to Just the Gurlz – The Movement – for conversation and Sunday brunch.

Reservations required: (856) 751-1717

3000 Main St., Voorhees, New Jersey

10. Sweetheart Menu at the Melting Pot, Sat. 2/16, 3 – 11 pm

Photo by angela pham on Unsplash

Bring your sweetheart to the Melting Pot (Maple Shade) for a belated four-course Valentine’s dinner. Includes cheese and chocolate fondue.

Reserve online.

584 Route 38 E, Maple Shade, New Jersey

11. Valentine’s Weekend at Carlucci’s Waterfront, ends Sun. 2/17 at 2 pm

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Head to Carlucci’s Waterfront for Italian cuisine and live music.

876 Centerton Rd, Mount Laurel, New Jersey

12. Vegan Valentine Sanctuary Trip to Funny Farm Rescue, Sun. 2/17, 10 am – 4:30 pm

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

Ticket includes bus trip, vegan lunch, movie about the importance of compassionate eating, lesson about the impact of a vegan lifestyle, and a donation to Funny Farm Rescue.

General Admission (includes bus trip): $95

Meet at the sanctuary (without bus trip): $50

Purchase tickets online.

6908 Railroad Blvd, Mays Landing, New Jersey

13.Wine Trail Weekend at Valenzano Winery, Sat. 2/16 & Sun. 2/17, 11 am – 5 pm

Photo by Monique Carrati on Unsplash

Bring your Valentine and enjoy chocolate, wine, and a gourmet meal prepared by Summit Catering at one of South Jersey’s favorite wineries. Reservations required. Purchase tickets online.

Adults: $10

1090 Route 206, Shamong, New Jersey

14. Winter Opera Gala at Tomasello Winery, Sun. 2/17, 2 – 6 pm

Photo by Viktor Nikolaienko on Unsplash

Sip from Tomasello’s finest award-winning wines as you dine on a four-course dinner and treat your ears to operatic arias.

Reservations required: 1-800-MMM-WINE

225 N White Horse Pike, Hammonton, New Jersey

Know of an event you think should be added to this list? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it when I get a free moment.

Christina Carrell is a writer from Medford, New Jersey. Learn more about her writing and social media management services.

9 South Jersey Businesses Offering Free or Discounted Food for Federal Workers

If you’re a federal worker affected by the shutdown, visit these South Jersey spots for special discounts and freebies.

As the government shutdown drags into its second month, there’s little relief in sight for families living without income. Understandably, workers are enduring high levels of anxiety, stress, and – in some cases – even boredom from weeks at home.

To offer a helping hand, numerous South Jersey businesses are offering freebies and discounts to furloughed and unpaid federal workers. Media outlets like the Courier Post, NJ.comand the Press of Atlantic City have recently published articles about these local businesses.

The following list covers a few of the generous South Jersey companies and organizations that haven’t yet received extensive media coverage, as of today (Wednesday, January 24).

If you’re a federal worker affected by the shutdown, visit these South Jersey restaurants and food pantries. Before you make the trip, be sure to call the business or organization in advance to verify that the offer is still valid.

Center Square Tavern (Swedesboro)

This week only, Center Square Tavern will provide free meals to local families not currently receiving pay. Bring your government identification (ID) and up to four family members before Friday, January 25.

120 Center Square Rd
Swedesboro, New Jersey


Tuesday – Friday: 11 am – 12 am


Charlie’s Crepes (Merchantville)

When you come to Charlie’s Crepes, write down “I ❤ crepes” on a sheet of paper and hand it to the owner. He or she will ask you for your preference of savory or sweet crepe. Please be sure to call before you visit, as Charlie’s was closed this morning due to freezing pipes.

177 S Centre St
Merchantville, New Jersey

Wednesday – Friday: 9:30 am – 1 pm, 4:30 – 8 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 12 pm, 4:30 – 8 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 2 pm

Chubby’s 1 1/2 Hearth Steakhouse (Gloucester City)

Bring your government ID to receive a burger and domestic beer for $10. Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of Philly Grub for recommending this one!

239 Monmouth St
Gloucester City, New Jersey

Sunday: 4 – 9 pm
Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 10 pm
Friday: 11 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 12 – 11 pm

Hammonton Presbyterian Church Food Pantry (Hammonton)

Bring your photo ID to the Hammonton Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays between the hours of 9 am and 12 pm for help with groceries. You do not need to live in Atlantic County, and you may visit once every 30 days.

326 Bellevue Ave
Hammonton, New Jersey

Wednesday: 9 am – 12 pm

People’s Pantry Relief Center (Toms River)

Eager to help local families affected by the shutdown, the People’s Pantry Relief Center will serve government workers with valid ID on Saturdays between 1 and 3 pm. Visit their pantry for fresh produce, meat, baked goods, and baby food.

1769 Hooper Ave
Toms River, New Jersey

Saturday: 1 – 3 pm

Philly Pretzel Factory (Mt. Ephraim)

Federal workers with government ID who come to the Philly Pretzel Factory’s Mt. Ephraim location can get one free pretzel dog.

301 S Black Horse Pike
Mount Ephraim, New Jersey

Sunday: 8 am – 6 pm
Monday – Wednesday: 6 am – 7 pm
Thursday – Saturday: 6 am – 8 pm

Robert’s Place (Margate)

Take your government ID to Robert’s Place for a free meal. Choose between grilled ham and cheese with soup; pizza; or a pork roll and cheese sandwich.

7807 Atlantic Ave
Margate City, New Jersey

Sunday – Saturday: 8 am – 4 am

Tiffin Indian Cuisine (Cherry Hill & all other locations)

Until Thursday, January 24, bring your government ID and enjoy a free entree and rice at any Tiffin location between the hours of 12 and 2 pm. Choose between Chicken Tikka Masala; Chicken Curry; Saag Paneer; Chana Masala; Dal Makhani; or Dal Tadka. Carry-out ordered on-premises only.

1892 Marlton Pike East
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Thursday, January 24: 12 – 2 pm

Tuckahoe Brewing Company (Egg Harbor Township)

Government employees over the age of 21 with valid ID can enjoy a free pint at Tuckahoe Brewing Company this Thursday, January 24 on the days and times specified below.

3092 English Creek Ave
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Thursday: 4 – 10 pm
Friday: 3 – 10 pm
Saturday: 12 – 8 pm
Sunday: 1 – 6 pm

As residents unaffected by the shutdown, we can help support these generous businesses who have stepped up to feed local families when our government fails to do so.

If you know of another South Jersey restaurant or food-related organization offering relief to federal workers, please comment below and I will add it as soon as I can. Thank you!

Image credit: Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

The Best New South Jersey Restaurants That Opened in 2018

Looking back at 2018: we review the best restaurants to hit South Jersey in the past year. How many of these have you been to?

Christina Carrell is a freelance writer based in Medford, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Set between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, South Jersey’s restaurant scene continues to diversify and innovate. In 2018, South Jerseyans welcomed a number of new restaurants.

To ring in the new year, we take a look back at a few of the best new restaurants to hit South Jersey during the past twelve months.

I crowdsourced this article by polling other South Jersey food bloggers on Instagram and Twitter to see which new restaurants they loved most. I’ve included an asterisk in front of the places I’ve personally visited and enjoyed.

One thing I learned from writing this article: I have a lot of new restaurants I need to try in 2019.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos

(Cherry Hill) – In 2008, Paul Altero and Bill Hart opened the first Bubbakoo’s location in Point Pleasant. After several years in operation, Altero and Hart set an ambitious goal to open hundreds of regional Bubbakoo’s shops. Today, Bubbakoo’s boasts more than two dozen locations – all sporting a surf-skater vibe – throughout the Garden State. In 2018, they opened one of their newest shops in Cherry Hill. With a menu that includes modern, customizable options like tacos, burrito bowls, and nachos, Bubbakoo’s quickly earned a reputation for fast, mouthwatering Mexican-American cuisine.

Online ordering available at some locations. Offers kids’ menu. Discount student meals (with valid ID) also offered.

56 Haddonfield Rd.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Monday – Sunday: 11 am – 9 pm

Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of PhillyGrub for recommending Bubbakoo’s Cherry Hill location.

Burger Barr

(Sewell) – Burger Barr calls itself a BYOB, but you can leave the booze at home. In this case, BYOB stands for “Build-Your-Own-Burger.” Burger Barr wants their customers to get creative. Using a highly customizable burger menu, diners can select from their choice of meats, cheeses, buns, sauces, and toppings to create a burger perfectly suited to individual tastes. Unique menu standouts include Kobe wagyu beef; pretzel buns; and truffle aioli.

Offers vegetarian option.

508 Hurffville-Crosskeys Rd.
Sewell, New Jersey

Tuesday – Thursday: 11 am- 8 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 9 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm

Thank you to South Jersey Instagrammer junkreviews for recommending Burger Barr.

Charlie’s Crepes

(Merchantville) – Enjoy a variety of crepes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Charlie’s Crepes. Co-owners Charles Koory and Lisa Ciacciarelli Koory, husband and wife, launched their crepe business at a South Jersey farmer’s market. Today, they remain committed to seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. Try traditional, savory crepe staples like Ham and Cheese – or order one of their more adventurous options like Sherry Shallot Mushroom Crepes with garlic lime crema. When you’re craving something sweet, Charlie’s also sells creative crepe desserts, like their Schober Orchards Vanilla Bourbon Peach Crepes with candied pecans and salted caramel.

Locally-sourced ingredients.

177 S. Centre St.
Merchantville, New Jersey

Wednesday – Friday: 9:30 am – 1 pm & 4:30 pm – 8 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 12 pm & 4:30 pm – 8 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 2 pm

Thank you to South Jersey blogger @tastytemptationssjso for recommending Charlie’s Crepes.

*Denim American Bistro

Beet Beignets at Denim American Bistro

(Cherry Hill) – Offering globally-influenced, modern American cuisine, Denim American Bistro opened in October in the historic Cherry Hill landmark that once housed La Campagne. Chef David Murray innovates with dishes like Ahi Tuna Crudo and Vegan Beetloaf. Visitors who remember La Campagne might be surprised – and pleased – by some of the changes to the restaurant’s interior, which include refinished hardwood floors and wells decked out in blue. When you come, bring a pair of jeans to donate and score a free dessert. Denim donations support Teens for Jeans, a nonprofit that helps clothe homeless youth.

312 Kresson Road
Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Romantic, intimate ambiance for date nights. Offers a kids’ menu; gluten-free menu; and vegetarian menu. Food-allergy-friendly. BYOB. Wine available for purchase.

Tuesday – Thursday: 11 am – 3 pm & 4 pm – 9 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 3 pm & 4 pm – 9 pm
Sunday: 10:30 am – 2:30 pm & 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Read my full review of Denim on the Jersey Bites website.

Disclosure: This fall, Denim American Bistro invited local food bloggers for a free tasting event prior to their official opening.

Hearthside

(Collingswood) – Cozy meets creative at this Collingswood BYOB, which has been lauded for its quality fare and romantic ambiance. Chef Dominic Piperno uses locally-sourced ingredients to create contemporary meat, seafood, and pasta dishes cooked on a wood-fired hearth in front of customers. Visitors rave about Hearthside’s attention to detail – in both food and setting.

Locally-sourced ingredients. Romantic, intimate setting good for date nights.

801 Haddon Ave.
Collingswood, New Jersey

Tuesday – Saturday: 5 pm – 10 pm

The Farmacy

(Palmyra) – In 2018, Philadelphia’s The Farmacy gained a second home in Palmyra. Chefs Ross Scofield and Danielle Coulte seek out sustainable, seasonal, and local ingredients for the comfort food they create. Visitors especially love their weekend brunch menu, which includes items like Cannoli French Toast and a Salmon B.L.T.

Locally-sourced ingredients. Vegan options.

307 W Broad St.
Palmyra, New Jersey

Brunch:

Friday: 9 am – 2 pm
Saturday: 9 pm – 2 pm
Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm

Dinner:

Tuesday – Thursday: 5 pm – 8 pm
Friday – Saturday: 5 pm – 9 pm

Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of PhillyGrub and South Jersey Instagrammer J
@tastytemptationssjso for recommending The Farmacy. Read Marilyn’s full review of The Farmacy on the PhillyGrub website.

*Frutta Bowls

Bowl at Frutta Bowl’s Marlton location

(Cinnaminson) – Amazon natives have been eating acai berries for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until recently that health-conscious restauranteurs popularized acai as a trendy breakfast item. In 2016, a recent college graduate and Jersey resident named Brooke Gagliano opened the first two Frutta Bowl locations in Freehold. Serving acai bowls, pitaya bowls, smoothies, and other health-inspired treats, the franchise now has locations all over the eastern United States – including ones in Marlton and Cinnaminson.

Note: I had two minor gripes with Frutta Bowls during my visit. They don’t offer a kids’ menu, which can get expensive if you’re a parent. Secondly, they don’t publish their nutritional information, which I feel should be standard at a health-inspired chain. Still, I kept them on this list because their bowls were delicious, and they’re offering something new and innovative.

195 Route 130
Cinnaminson, New Jersey

Monday – Sunday: 9 am – 8 pm

Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of PhillyGrub for recommending Frutta Bowl’s Cinnaminson location. Read her guide on where to find acai bowls in South Jersey.

Josie Kelly’s Public House

(Somers Point) – In 1908, the building that now houses Josie Kelly’s Public House was built as a grocery store before becoming a restaurant called Mac’s in 1924. As they renovated the historic building, co-owners Dermot and Kathleen Lloyd modeled the restaurant and bar in the tradition of a coastal Irish pub and named it after Dermot’s Irish grandmother Josephine. They envision it as a welcoming, neighborly place where people can come together for drinks and good food.

Offers vegetarian options. Catering available. Offers brunch.

908 Shore Road
Somers Point, New Jersey

Sunday: 10 am – 12 am
Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 12 am
Friday: 11 am – 2 am
Saturday: 10 am – 2 am

Thank you to Jim House for recommending Josie Kelly’s Public House – as well as their Irish breakfast, exceptional whiskey selection, and outstanding Shepherd’s Pie.

*Korner Bistro

(Marlton) – South Jersey has no shortage of Italian eateries, and this strip-mall BYOB’s standard Italian-American menu is nothing exceptional. But what Korner Bistro lacks in originality it makes up for in quality. Although it opened just a few months ago, the restaurant has already established a reputation for exceptionally tasty fare. Korner Bistro offers brunch all day long, every day, in addition to their lunch and dinner menu.

Offers kids’ menu. Offers daily brunch option. Catering available.

320 Evesboro – Medford Rd.
Marlton, New Jersey

Tuesday – Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm
Friday: 11 am – 10 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 10 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm

Macona BBQ

(Collingswood) – In 2018, Collingswood topped USA Today’s list of the “Best Small Town Food Scene” in the country – and for good reason. Whatever you’re craving, you won’t go hungry in Collingswood. Macona BBQ is one of the newest arrivals to the town’s restaurant scene. With walls adorned in murals painted by local artist Chuck Styles, this casual eatery specializes in southern-inspired comfort foods like smoked brisket and ribs, homemade pickles, and macaroni and cheese. Even if you’re an herbivore, don’t write this one off your bucket list: Macona also offers seitan-based, vegan options.

Casual. Vegan options available.

577 Haddon Ave.
Collingswood, New Jersey

Monday – Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 4 pm

Thank you to South Jersey Instagrammer @tastytemptationssjso for recommending Macona.

Mama’s Meatballs

(Pennsauken) – A hot trend throughout the country, food trucks continue to innovate by offering food to match every craving. With Italian takeout specialties that include flatbread, sandwiches, pastas, salads, and of course – homemade meatballs, Mama’s Meatballs began as a food truck before opening their store in Pennsauken. While Mama’s specializes in meat, vegetarians shouldn’t shy away from this popular eatery: Mama’s also serves up a vegetarian “Veg-Da Ball” made from beans and vegetables and fried in soy oil.

Takeout. Vegetarian options. Catering with online ordering option available.

2673 Haddonfield Rd.
Pennsauken, New Jersey

Monday – Friday: 11 am – 9 pm

Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of PhillyGrub for recommending Mama’s Meatballs. Read her full review on the PhillyGrub website.

*Mannino’s Cannoli Express

(Hammonton) – When a baker’s popularity outgrows her own food truck, she’s probably doing something right. In 2014, Gabriella Tomasello Mannino launched her cannoli food truck business. By 2016, The Daily Meal had named Mannino’s one of the top 100 food trucks in the country. While she continues to serve the tri-state area from her food cart, in 2018 Mannino also opened her brick-and-mortar shop along Hammonton’s newly revitalized Bellevue Avenue. Mannino’s offers a variety of cannolis, cakes, espresso beverages, and creamy Italian gelato in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Grab lunch at one of downtown Hammonton’s many noteworthy eateries – and don’t forget to stop in at Mannino’s for dessert. Bonus: they carry spumoni gelato, a flavor that’s proven difficult to find in South Jersey.

Offers catering. Gluten-free options available.

220 Bellevue Avenue
Hammonton, New Jersey

Tuesday – Thursday: 11 am – 6 pm

Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm

Sunday: 11 am – 4 pm

Porch and Proper

(Collingswood)  – Score another victory for Collingswood – and Stephen Starr. BYOB Porch and Proper has earned five-star reviews from diners and critics alike. Seasoned veterans in the restaurant industry, co-owners Jason and Casey Simkins have previously managed other Stephen Starr restaurants like famed Buddakan and Morimoto. At Porch and Proper, Executive Chef Ryan McQuillan sources his ingredients from local vendors. McQuillan uses seasonal vegetables and herbs – including those grown in Porch and Proper’s own picturesque garden – to create their gourmet dishes, which include items as diverse as Seared Fois Gras and Smoked Cauliflower Steak. The restaurant – set inside a historic building – has also been lauded for its beautiful design, which is the brainchild of local artist Hillary O’Carroll.

Seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Al fresco seating available. Intimate, romantic ambiance ideal for date nights. Offers vegetarian options.

619 W. Collings Ave.
Collingswood, New Jersey

Tuesday – Saturday:  5 pm – 10 pm
Sunday:  5 pm – 9 pm

Thank you to local Instagrammer @tastytemptationssjso and PhillyGrub’s Marilyn Johnson for recommending Porch and Proper.

*Rastelli Market at Hill Creek Farms

(Mullica Hill) – The epitome of “farm-to-table,” Rastelli Market’s newest location sources most of their ingredients directly from an on-premise farm. Even the wood used to smoke Rastelli’s meats comes from the trees at bucolic Hill Creek. To obtain ingredients unavailable on the farm, Executive Chef James Luizza and the rest of the Rastelli team work with local vendors to secure the highest quality products they can. The rustic Loft Cafe – set in the upper level of the store – features cozy seating, a large-screen television, and a cafe. Inside the lounge, relax with a bottle of Hill Creek Apple Wine – available for purchase – or head downstairs for freshly baked donuts, prepared foods, meat, and seafood. Or bring the kids and spend the day: Hill Creek Farms also offers hayrides and other seasonal, family-friendly activities.

Kids’ menu available. Local, seasonal ingredients. Wine available for purchase. Family-friendly activities offered seasonally.

1631 State Highway 45
Mullica Hill, New Jersey

NOTE: Due to state regulations on seasonal farm markets, this Rastelli Market location will close during the months of January and February. They will reopen in March 2019.

Read my full review of Rastelli Market at Hill Creek Farms.

Disclosure: In November, Rastelli Market at Hill Creek Farms invited local food bloggers for a free tasting.

*Tacos el Tio

(Medford) – Not long ago, Medford residents had to drive to Hammonton to score quality Mexican food. Then came Cielito Lindo, and Tacos el Tio quickly followed. Both eateries were worth the wait. After years as a successful Mexican restaurant in Egg Harbor, in 2018 the owners of Tacos el Tio Cantina opened a second restaurant in Medford’s newly revitalized Taunton Forge plaza. Like their first location, Medford’s Tacos el Tio quickly grew as a popular place to enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine and drinks. Eat indoors, have a drink at the bar, or when the weather’s right – take advantage of the restaurant’s beautiful outdoor seating.

Includes bar. Kids’ menu available. Offers takeout. Al fresco dining available.

200 Tuckerton Rd.
Medford, New Jersey

Sunday – Saturday: 11 am – 11 pm

Valente’s Italian Specialities

(Haddonfield) –  Marcello De Feo’s grandparents and their children came to America from Abruzzo, Italy. Having grown up around an endless supply of mouthwatering fare, Valente has passed his family’s tradition of homemade Italian cooking onto his children. After years of working in the restaurant industry and participating in farmer’s markets, De Feo opened his first retail store. At Valente’s Italian Specialities, he sells homemade pasta, bread, premade meals, coffee, kitchenware, and other culinary-inspired gifts. In addition to Valente’s imported specialty items, Valente sources the ingredients for many of his Italian foods from local vendors.

Locally-sourced ingredients. Catering available. Offers classes for kids and adults.

7 Kings Ct.
Haddonfield, New Jersey

Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm

Thank you to Marilyn Johnson of PhillyGrub for recommending Valente’s. Read her full review of Valente’s on the PhillyGrub website.

Edit: Thank you to David Stewart for recommending Central Taco and Tequila (Haddon) be added to this list. I will post a brief summary of it in the coming week.

Anywhere we missed?

Love a new (opened in 2018) South Jersey restaurant that’s not on this list? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add it when I get a free moment.

Christina Carrell is a freelance writer based in Medford, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Dominican Soul Food Restaurant Opens in Willingboro

A new eatery serving up Dominican soul food recently opened in Willingboro.

Sol Sazon’s chicken mofongo

Burlington County can add another cuisine to its repertoire. Sol Sazon, which opened in Willingboro in September, specializes in Dominican dishes with a modern twist.

A small, family-owned BYOB, Sol Sazon serves up traditional Dominican soul food like mofongo, a Puerto Rican staple also popular in the Dominican Republic. Mofongo owes its origins to traditional West African fufu, a dish that arrived on the Carribean islands during the sixteenth century.

Made from mashed plantains and chicharrones (fried pork skin), mofongo is a dry food usually stuffed with a second protein like chicken, beef, or seafood and served with a sauce or gravy. Sol Sazon offers their mofongo with your choice of chicken with alfredo sauce or shrimp with creole sauce.

Sol Sazon’s empanadas

Other Sol Sazon specialties include fried empanadas,  loaded yucca fries, and pasteles (Dominican tamales). Sol Sazon’s owner says the pasteles’s mushy texture might take some getting used to on an American palate.

Sol Sazon’s pastelitos

Empanadas and even yucca fries – which resemble thick french fries in both appearance and taste – provide a more conservative introduction for less adventurous diners.

Housed in a small strip mall off Route 130, Sol Sazon’s family-friendly, brightly-lit interior is decidedly casual. As diners wait for their meals, they have the option of playing Dominos, a game the owners have available for visitors.

Sol Sazon’s dominoes

Menu prices range from $2 to $18 for appetizers and $10 to $30 for entrees, which you can order in individual portions or family-style. To drink, bring your own wine or beer, or order the kids a morir sonando, a sweet drink made from orange juice and milk.

My Experience

Sol Sazon’s loaded yucca fries

On Saturday, December 15, 2018, I dined at Sol Sazon with a few other food bloggers.

To fully experience Sol Sazon’s menu, we ordered a variety of appetizers – including beef empanadas, salmon empanadas, chicken empanadas, pasteles en hoja, shrimp mofongo, chicken mofongo, and loaded yucca fries.

I enjoyed the empanadas – particularly the beef variety. As Sol Sazon’s owner mentioned, the pastelito’s texture was a bit mushy for me, though it was flavorful. The rest of the food was on the bland and dry side for my liking. Being a newcomer to Dominican food, I’m unsure whether these characteristics are typical for other restaurants serving similar cuisine.

A quick Google search revealed other reviewers describing Dominican food as ‘bland.’ So my suspicion is that my complaint has more to do with my unfamiliarity with Dominican food – along with a personal preference for spicier cuisines – than a failing on the part of the restaurant.

Sol Sazon’s friendly, welcoming staff was open to our feedback. As a new establishment, Sol Sazon is still working to refine its taste and work out kinks. Because food is so subjective, I firmly believe people should try things for themselves rather than taking someone else’s opinion as fact.

I know I’ll be giving Sol Sazon – and Dominican cuisine – a second try.

Sol Sazon

BYOB offering takeout, dine-in, and catering in South Jersey

4324 US-130 #4

Willingboro, New Jersey

14 South Jersey Food Events to Check Out This Weekend (12/14 – 12/16)

Looking for something to do this weekend in South Jersey? Head to one of these foodie events.

Breakfast with Santa at Cape May’s Congress Hall, Sat. 12/15 & Sun. 12/16, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm

Image credit: Smallbones [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a gourmet breakfast buffet with Santa at South Jersey’s southernmost shore. 

Kids (ages 4-12): $15 (plus tax & gratuity)

Adults: $22 (plus tax & gratuity)

Call ahead for reservations: (609) 884-6542

200 Congress Pl, Cape May, New Jersey

Breakfast with Santa at Ott’s in Washington Township, Sun. 12/16, 10 am – 12 pm

Image credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Bring along a new, unwrapped toy. Take the whole family for a visit with St. Nick and a breakfast buffet. 

No reservation necessary. 

340 Greentree Rd, Washington Township, New Jersey

Camden Children’s Garden Brunch with Santa, Sat. 12/15, 10 am – 12 pm

Discover the wonder of this four-and-a-half acre imaginative playground on the Camden Waterfront where families can enjoy brunch with Santa, hot chocolate, and a kids’ Polar Express ride.

Call ahead for reservations & details: (856) 365-8733

3 Riverside Dr., Camden, New Jersey

Chocolate Covered Anything Day, Sun. 12/16

There’s truly a holiday for everything. Chocolate Covered Anything Day happens nationwide this Sunday.

Bake your holiday cookies and then dip them in chocolate. Or whip up some chocolate fondue.

If you don’t feel like cooking, head to the Melting Pot for their Sunday Fondue Brunch with Santa. 

A Christmas Carol Dinner Theatre at Braddock’s Tavern, Sun. 12/16, 2 – 5 pm

Image credit: Stephen McKay / A Christmas Carol via Wikipedia Commons

The Riddlesbrood Touring Theatre Troupe will entertain with an interactive performance of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” as diners enjoy a multi-course dinner. 

Call ahead for reservations. I do not know if they still have tickets available for this performance: (609) 654 – 1604

39 S Main St, Medford, New Jersey

Comedy UnCorked at Willow Creek Farm & Winery, Sat. 12/15, 6 – 10 pm

Image credit: photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Willow Creek Farm and Winery in Cape May will host a three-course dinner and comedy show starring three New York City comics. 

Must be 21 or over to attend. Comedy show is rated MA for mature audiences.

Call ahead for reservations: 

Tickets: $65 -includes food, wine, and the comedy show. 

(609) 770 – 8782

168 Stevens St, West Cape May, New Jersey

Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Party at Elaine’s, Fri. 12/14, 7 pm

Image credit: Adam Lautenbach [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit Elaine’s in Cape May for an outdoor screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Stay warm by the fire as you enjoy dinner and drinks with friends. 

Admission is free. Drinks and food extra.

513 Lafayette St, Cape May, New Jersey

Live Music Series at Sharrott Winery, Fri. 12/14 & Sat. 12/15, 6 – 9 pm

Image credit: Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Head to Winslow Township where you can relax with friends as you listen to live music at Sharrott Winery. Choose between indoor and outdoor seating while you enjoy wine and food from Sharrott’s wine bar.

Outside food or beverages are not permitted, and seating is first-come, first-serve.

Friday 12/14: Nancy Malcun performs

Saturday 12/15: Jeff Twardzik performs

370 S Egg Harbor Rd, Hammonton, New Jersey

Lunch and Learn at Lucky Bones Cape May, Sat. Dec. 15, 12 pm – 1 pm

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities presents a series of educational programs that explore issues relating to the Victorian era. This Saturday they will hold the final program of the year. 

Cost: $20 per person (includes lunch buffet)

Registration required: (609) 884 – 5404 – I do not know if they still have space at this event. 

1200 Rt 109 South, Cape May, New Jersey

Open Mic & Art Walk at Lower Forge Brewery, Fri. Dec. 14, 7 pm

Image credit: Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Music starts at 7, but arrive by 6 if you want to sign up to perform. 

14 S Main St, Medford, New Jersey

Pajama Party at the Pop Shop Medford, Sat. 12/15, 8 – 10:30 am

Image credit: Photo by Michael Nunes on Unsplash

Let the kids stay in their pajama’s when you bring them to the Pop Shop’s Medford location for a FREE kids’ meal (per paying adult).

1 S Main St, Medford, New Jersey

Sunday Fondue Brunch with Santa at the Melting Pot, Sun. 12/16, 11:30 am – 3:30 pm

Image credit: Photo by Angela Pham on Unsplash

Sunday is National Dip Anything in Chocolate Day. Celebrate by bringing the whole family to the Melting Pot for brunch and a visit from the big guy in red. 

584 Rt 38 East, Maple Shade, New Jersey

Ugly Sweater Party at The Ugly Mug, Sat. 12/15, 9 pm – 2 am

Come hear Lima Bean Riot perform. Wear your ugliest garb for a chance at a $100 cash prize for ugliest sweater. 

426 Washington St, Cape May, New Jersey

Whole Foods’ 12 Days of Cheese Event, Marlton & Cherry Hill, 12/12 – 12/23

Image credit: Photo by Lana Abie on Unsplash

This event is actually at every Whole Foods location, but Marlton and Cherry Hill are their only South Jersey locations.

Every day, Whole Foods will feature a different cheese

Receive 50% off the cheese-of-the-day, Get an extra 10% off if you’re a Prime member. 

December 14: Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère

December 15: Vermont Creamery Bijou

December 16: Hervé Mons Camembert

Marlton location:

940 NJ-73, Marlton, New Jersey

Cherry Hill location:

1558 Kings Hwy N, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Have something to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below, and I will add it when I get a free moment.

Your Guide to White Sauces (and Where to Find Good Ones in South Jersey)

Do you know the difference between bechamel, veloute, alfredo, and carbonara? Find out here – and learn where to enjoy quality white sauce in South Jersey.

White sauce. Alfredo. Bechamel. What’s the difference?

That’s what I wondered earlier this week.

I had just whipped up a quick dinner for my family. I stirred together some milk, butter, flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, chopped up some spinach and canned salmon, tossed it all over a box of linguine, and finished off the dish with some freshly grated parmesan.

When my four-year-old son Elliot asked me what our meal was called, I hesitated. I wanted to say “linguine and salmon with bechamel,” but I was unsure.

“Alexa, what’s the difference between bechamel sauce and Alfredo?” I asked.

Alexa replied with some confusing nonsense where she basically repeated my question back to me. (Rest assured: artificial intelligence is not going to take over the world just yet.)

I vowed to do a little research to settle my confusion.

Behold a brief guide to white sauce:

White Sauce

‘White sauce’ is a generic term that can refer to any kind of creamy sauce made from milk, butter, wine, or cheese.

Photo credit: goblinbox_(queen_of_ad_hoc_bento) from Walla Walla, WA, US [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Bechamel

Bechamel’s origins are rooted in political history. In 1533, Catherine de Medici of Italy married a French duke named Henri. When Medici came to France, she brought her Italian chefs with her.

Back in Medici’s homeland, Tuscans had already been eating their own version of white sauce – besciamella – since the Renaissance. No one quite agrees on who exactly invented bechamel, but Medici’s arrival in France paved the way for the sauce.

Bechamel sauce is named for Marquis Louis de Bechamel, a businessman and steward of King Louis XIV. During the 1800’s, a French chef named Marie Antoine-Carême described four French “mother sauces” – including bechamel – in her book Le Guide Culinaire.

Today, cooks make bechamel using a roux of flour and butter to which they add milk, salt, black pepper, and often – nutmeg. (If you’ve only eaten nutmeg is sweet desserts, you need to try it in savory white sauce dishes.)

If you want to make a basic bechamel sauce at home, I recommend using this recipe from Epicurious. I double the recipe, add a pinch of nutmeg to it, and pour it over cooked tortellini or linguine. 

Photo credit: Photo by Viktor Tasnadi from Pexels

Veloute

If other white sauces are too heavy for you, behold the light, milk-free veloute. The word veloute derives from the French word ‘velour,” a reference to the sauce’s smooth, velvety consistency. Veloute is another of the four original mother sauces Marie Antoine-Careme outlined in the nineteenth century.

Like bechamel, veloute begins with a flour and butter roux. In lieu of milk, clear stock made from unroasted chicken or fish is added, making for a lighter sauce that is then poured over fish or vegetables.

Carbonara

The earliest known mention of carbonara sauce can be found in Richard Hammond’s 1957 book Eating in Italy: a pocket guide to Italian food and restaurants. Many people believe carbonara, which originated in Rome, was introduced to Americans at the end of World War II. American troops stationed in Italy had little to eat. But they added cured pork to dried pasta to create something similar to carbonara sauce.

‘Carbonara’ roughly translates to ‘charcoal burner,’ so another theory holds that carbonara was first created as a dish for Italian coal miners.

However, some historians doubt both theories. No one is entirely sure when carbonara was first created. Today, spaghetti alla carbonara is a popular Italian-American dish made with creamy white sauce, pancetta, egg yolks, and an Italian cheese like pecorino or parmesan.

Photo credit: Dllu [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Alfredo

Alfredo, one of the simplest white sauces, is made from butter and parmesan cheese over fettuccine pasta. Fettucine alfredo is one of the most common dishes you’ll find at American restaurants.

While Americans might consider it a quintessential Italian dish, fettuccine alfredo is not a common sauce in Italy – though it was invented there.

American actress Mary Pickford helped popularize fettuccine alfredo.

A Roman restauranteur named Alfredo di Lelio first made the dish for his pregnant wife. American actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford ate at di Lelio’s Ristorante Alfredo and told their friends back in Hollywood. Celebrities like Sophia Loren and Jimmy Stewart soon came to love fettuccine alfredo, helping to popularize the dish in America.

Where to Find Good Cream-Based Pasta in South Jersey

If you don’t feel like whipping up your own, head out to one of these South Jersey restaurants for quality white sauce.

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

Ristorante Toscana Fire Grill and Bar (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) – My former workplace held our annual holiday party at Toscana every year. I recall loving their Champagne Pear Sacchetti, which their menu describes as “Toscana’s Speciality.” The sacchetti pasta is stuffed with pears and ricotta and tossed in a rich, creamy walnut-champagne sauce. Yum.

Theresa M. Hinke, a public relations professional, recommends three South Jersey restaurants for quality pasta of any kind:

Photo by Emily Austin on Unsplash

Allora (Marlton, New Jersey) – Allora’s new “Pasta Your Way” menu includes two different white sauce options: carbonara and truffle cream.

Ill Villagio (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) – Ill Villagio’s white cream-based sauces include porcini cream and carbonara sauce.

LaScala’s Fire (Marlton, New Jersey) – I have not eaten at LaScala’s yet, but I keep hearing great things about them. Their menu includes a truffle cream sauce.

Instagrammer Tasty Temptations recommends the gorgonzola cream sauce at Maurizio’s Bistro (Moorestown, New Jersey). Their menu also includes a salmon dish with a wine cream sauce.

South Jersey Instagrammers South Jersey Foodies recommend trying Piccini Brick Oven Pizza (Ocean City, New Jersey). Their menu includes the unique dish tortellini carbonara. (Note that Piccini only accepts cash.)

Linda Pelaschier Mihlebach, a home cook and Instagrammer, suggests Filomena Lakeview (Deptford, New Jersey). While not a white sauce fan, “I never had a pasta dish there I didn’t like,” she says. Their menu includes a seafood and tortellini butter sauce.

Mihlebach also enjoys the Bronzino Francese at Chubby’s Steakhouse (Gloucester City, New Jersey) – which is made with butter, lemon, and white wine.

Photo credit: Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Angel Merrill’s family, which has owned and operated Merrill’s Colonial Inn (Mays Landing, New Jersey) since 1959, has passed down recipes for generations. Their homemade spaghetti with white clam sauce is a customer favorite. 

In good conscience, I couldn’t leave Hammonton off this list. Located in the Pine Barrens, Hammonton is home to a large Italian population. I attended high school in Hammonton and have never had bad Italian food there.

Photo Credit: United States Census Bureau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

While I can’t recall ordering any white sauces, I have always enjoyed Marcello’s (Hammonton, New Jersey) which has been serving up homemade Italian specialties for more than two decades. Marcello’s “Special Sauce” is made with cream, mushrooms, and peas. Their menu also includes carbonara and alfredo sauces.

Where’s your favorite spot in South Jersey for delicious white sauce pasta?