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.

South Jersey Family Outings: Visit Fernbrook Farms & Eat Lunch at Properly Fueled

Fernbrook Farms and Properly Fueled are family-friendly destinations offering locally-sourced, healthy food and fun.

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Properly Fueled’s Jasmine Green Tea ($2)

Highlights:

  • Fernbrook Farms in Chesterfield, New Jersey (near Bordentown) offers a CSA program, kids’ summer camp, hiking trails, and a farm market selling produce and other locally-sourced goods
  • Downtown Bordentown boasts a vibrant downtown area with a number of restaurants, including Properly Fueled
  • Properly Fueled serves locally-sourced, healthy breakfast and lunch items, kids’ meals, smoothies, coffee, tea, and baked goods. They also cater.

Fernbrook Farms

This year, I discovered something new. Well, really only new to me. I’ve lived in New Jersey my whole life, and until 2018, I’d never explored Bordentown.

It started as a quest to find a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program. In the spring, we went to Smithville Park’s annual Earth Fair where we met the friendly people from Fernbrook Farms just outside Bordentown. At their vendor table, we learned about Fernbrook’s CSA. After reading some positive reviews about their program, our family enrolled.

Fernbrook isn’t close – about a forty-minute drive –  to where we live in Medford. But throughout the whole season of shuttling back and forth to Fernbrook for our CSA share once a week, I never minded the drive. In fact, although I usually loathe driving, I almost always looked forward to the scenic trip up Route 206.

Yesterday was our last visit to Fernbrook for the year. I’ll miss cooking with the fresh produce we got there each week, but our final haul was much bigger than I expected. In fact, I hadn’t realized just how many crops could still thrive in New Jersey when the temperature drops so low. My son and I brought home bags of deep green kale, cabbage, butternut squash, potatoes, parsley, sage, turnips, radishes, carrots, and celery.

When we arrived for our final CSA pickup, the Fernbrook Farms staff had a campfire burning outside. As always, they greeted us upon our arrival. Beside the campfire sat a picnic table offering free samples of lavender-spiced cookies. (I’m still undecided on whether I like lavender in food.) Beside the basket of cookies sat a decorative fall centerpiece and a few bourbon pecan pies for sale. Inside the shop, Fernbrook also sells locally-sourced goods like dairy products, meat, frozen ravioli, eggs, potato chips, iced tea, coffee, and barbecue sauce.

Before we picked up our produce, my son (who is almost four) wanted to go hiking one last time despite yesterday’s bitter temperatures. (Okay, maybe not bitter, but I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold.) Fernbrook does a lot more than just grow vegetables. In fact, they do a little of everything – from weddings to summer camp for kids. The farm’s’ property is also home to a number of scenic hiking trails, and as a result of walking the trails each week, my son has a newfound passion for hiking.

Fernbrook is also home to a number of farm animals. Earlier in the season, we got to see the pigs they raised for meat. Explaining to my son why they were no longer at the farm in an age-appropriate way provided a bit of a challenge, but I’m glad he knows that his food doesn’t just magically appear at the grocery store. The rest of the animals at Fernbrook – goats, sheep, chickens, a cow, ducks, and rabbits – are for educational purposes only. We said our final goodbyes to the animals as my son petted the friendly goats.

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Saying ‘goodbye’ for the year to Fernbrook Farms’ cow

Properly Fueled

Driving away from the farm, I got one last look at the unique historic buildings on the farm (shown above). By the time we left, we were both famished. Over the summer, we had enjoyed a meal at Properly Fueled in downtown Bordentown, so I suggested we dine there again. After I reminded my son about their kids’ fruit kebobs, he agreed.

Bordentown has a beautiful and vibrant downtown area. Although we had to park a distance up the street from Properly Fueled, we didn’t mind the walk. But once we got to Properly Fueled, we were grateful for how quickly our food arrived.

Properly Fueled is a small, cozy cafe-style eatery that specializes in locally-sourced health food like quinoa and vegetable bowls. Their menu also offers breakfast items, smoothies, sandwiches, and seasonal specials. A wall in the cafe boasts a list of their local partners that supply everything on their menu – from honey to vegetables to coffee. (Fernbrook, of course, is one of their local suppliers.)

My son ordered his kids’ Fruit Kebobs ($5) – strawberries, bananas, and apples served with a side of sweetened cinnamon yogurt for dipping. I opted for their Rad Thai Bowl ($10.50). Although I didn’t enjoy it as much I enjoyed the Asian bowl I ordered there earlier in the year, it was still a tasty choice. To drink, my son had iced water served in a Mason jar, and I had a mug of hot jasmine green tea. Before we left, we both ordered to-go items: a gluten-free smores cookie for him and a decaf coffee for me.

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Properly Fueled’s kids’ fruit kebabs ($5)

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Properly Fueled’s Rad Thai Noodles ($10.50)

Right now, we’re undecided on whether we’ll join Fernbrook’s CSA again next year. As my son gets older and participates in more activities, a weekly forty-minute drive might prove too hectic for our family. However, I highly recommend Fernbrook to anyone who lives close to Bordentown (or who doesn’t mind driving there each week.) The CSA is not only affordable but also great for families who want to teach their kids more about where food comes from.

You can signup now for Fernbrook’s 2019 CSA program, which costs $660 for 26 weeks, from Memorial Day through Thanksgiving, approximately $25 a week. We always had plenty to eat each week – and some leftovers too.

Even if we don’t join the CSA again, I’m positive we’ll be back to Fernbrook for a visit in the spring. Afterward, I look forward to another relaxing lunch at Properly Fueled.  If you love to eat local, make the trip to explore Bordentown. I can’t imagine anyone would regret it.

Fernbrook Farms:

142 Bordentown Georgetown Rd
Chesterfield, NJ 08515

Properly Fueled:

1 1/2 Crosswicks St
Bordentown, New Jersey

Monday – Friday: 7 am-8 pm

Saturday: 7 am-3 pm

What are your favorite things to do in Bordentown?