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

The Art of Indian Cooking With Chef Chetna Macwan

Chef Chetna Macwan teaches South Jersey residents the art of Indian cooking.

Chef Chetna Macwan teaches an Indian cooking class at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, New Jersey on Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Disclosure: Fork in the Pines was invited to observe one of Chetna Macwan’s classes at Atlantic Cape Community college free of charge.

“I got a noise complaint,” the security guard joked when he walked into our classroom at Atlantic Cape Community College this past Saturday. Six students were gathered to learn the art of Indian cooking from South Jersey Chef Chetna Macwan. I was there to learn and observe.

The guard had never tasted Indian food, but the spicy aroma had enticed him to check out our class.

“It’s REALLY good,” one student told him. “You have to try it.” He conceded and took a bite. One bite led to another. He was glad he stopped by.

When a meal’s aroma can lure someone into a room and convince him to try a new cuisine for the first time, the chef must be good. Better than good. Before I left, I told Macwan that her Indian food was the best I’d ever tasted. I wasn’t buttering her up (pun intended). I was speaking the truth.

As a child, Macwan learned to cook North Indian cuisine from her mother. A no-nonsense instructor, Macwan’s mom ensured her children learned proper cooking techniques, including knife skills. Macwan likened her experience growing up to attending culinary school.

Leading With Dessert: Khajur Burfi

Khajur burfi (Indian almond and date balls)

We started with dessert. Macwan taught us to prepare khajur burfi, or Indian almond and date balls. Easy enough for beginner chefs, khajur burfi contains just five ingredients – and no added sugar. The almonds are toasted and combined with cardamom, dates, and ghee, a clarified butter common in Indian recipes.

Almonds, dates, and cardamom toasting on the stove

Cardamom lends the dessert a “soft, sweet flavor with a floral aftertaste,” explains Macwan.

Macwan and another student rolled the mixture into balls and coated each with shredded coconut. Then we got to taste them. The khajur burfi’s buttery, toasted flavor had me reaching for seconds (and, admittedly – thirds).

Modern Techniques With Traditional Roots

Hariyali marinade

Macwan then demonstrated how to make a hariyali marinade. Her sous chef, Juliana Torres, helped prepare the marinade’s ingredients. I noted Torres’s technique of rolling the lemons on the counter before juicing them. The marinade also contained lots of fresh cilantro and mint, which makes it especially well-suited for summer meals. Harilayi is the Hindi word for “greenery,” a reference to its bright green hue.

While Macwan’s recipes are rooted in traditional Indian cuisine, most of them have been modernized. By using a Vitamix blender, Macwan was able to reduce preparation and cooking time without sacrificing flavor. With a blender, home cooks don’t need perfect knife skills either, since all the ingredients are pureed.

Macwan suggested we use a blender at home to prepare the hariyali. Then, we can freeze a large batch and divvy it into small portions inside an ice cube tray. The marinade contains a special spice blend Macwan jokingly dubbed, “Chet’s Chix Mix,” telling us that it’s ideal for quick, weeknight chicken or seafood meals.

Hariyali marinade with chicken breast

We ate the marinade over chicken breast. A versatile blend, Macwan suggested other ways to enjoy it at home. She recommended serving the hariyali with chicken wrapped inside Naan bread and topped with garlic chutney and yogurt.

“You can almost eat it like a gyro,” Macwan elaborates. The marinade also works well with paneer, a popular Indian cheese.

Hariyali and chicken breast

Learning the Secret to Great Indian Cuisine: Oil & Spice

Chef Macwan’s Indian spices

I was relieved to still have room in my stomach for more food. We still had two dishes to make. Next up was lamb and pea keehma, a ground meat dish that can be eaten with rice or used as a filling for savory Indian pastries called samosas.

Simmering ingredients for lamb & pea keehma

As Macwan started to make the kheema, she stressed the importance of frying Indian spices in oil at the start of a recipe. While I’ve made my own version of Indian cuisine at home, I had never added my spices at the beginning as she did. Of everything I learned on Saturday, this technique fascinated me the most.

“Flavoring that oil is really key,” Macwan says. Infusing the spices with the oil ensures a dish with a consistent flavor throughout, as the seasoned oil seeps into every bite.


“Flavoring that oil is really key,” Macwan says.

“Pasta-Style” Basmati Rice With Aromatics

Aromatics (cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves) for cooking basmati rice

As we cooked, Torres prepared the basmati rice. Macwan had instructed her to cook the rice using a technique she calls “pasta style.” Rather than cooking the rice in a covered pot with a specific ratio of water to rice, Macwan allows her rice to simmer in an uncovered pot filled to the brim with water.

On the top of the water, she adds Indian aromatics like cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves. After she checks the rice to ensure its doneness, she removes the aromatics from the pot. (See Macwan’s blog post on “pasta style” rice.)

With the rice ready to be eaten, we started cooking our final dish: chicken makhani. Makhani is the Indian word for “butter,” appropriately named for the multiple sticks of butter it contains. Traditionally, makhani simmers on low for several hours with tandoori-style meat. This “low and slow” method of cooking allows the ingredients to integrate into one smooth-textured gravy.

But Macwan uses a blender to prepare her makhani, allowing the ingredients to fully combine before being cooked on the stove. By modernizing the dish’s preparation, Macwan reduces the cook time to 34-45 minutes. The shorter cook time makes the recipe much more accessible to novice home chefs like myself.

Chicken Tikha Masala Versus Chicken Makhani: The Distinction

To make a smooth makhani gravy, ingredients are either simmered for several hours or pureed in a blender before cooking

As she cooked, Macwan explained the difference between chicken makhani and another popular Indian dish: chicken tikha masala. Whereas makhani gravy is smooth, tikha masala contains chunks of vegetables like bell pepper and onion. While makhani also contains pepper and onion, all the ingredients are integrated into the gravy. (Macwan joked that makhani is a perfect dish for her young son, who doesn’t like to see any of the vegetables he’s eating.)

Traditional makhani contains yogurt, but Macwan prefers to use heavy cream. The cream mellows the gravy, resulting in a lighter dish. Jaggery, an Indian-style brown sugar with a molasses-like flavor, adds a hint of sweetness to the makhani.

Macwan instructed us to leave some fat on the chicken thighs. The fat flavors the dish and thickens the gravy. I was relieved to hear her say this. I already leave fat on my chicken thighs. Now I have an excuse other than laziness.

Meal Time and Second Dessert

Pictured (clockwise from left): naan bread, chicken makhani, lamb and pea keehma, and basmati rice

Once we all had a plate of rice, kheema, makhani, and naan bread in front of us, the room grew silent. Everyone ate together, and no one voiced a single complaint. When we were finished, Torres – who is a pastry chef – dished out some of her flan dessert. (Yes, we had two desserts!) The flan was creamy, light, and coated with a sweet, caramelized sauce.

Flan artistically prepared by Atlantic Cape student Juliana Torres, a pastry chef

I left inspired to try cooking Macwan’s recipes at home. After smelling the pungent aroma of her spices, I knew I needed to shop for some fresh spices of my own. (Mine have sat in my pantry far too long.)

After purchasing some fresh ingredients – like cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks, my house filled with the aromatic scent of curry. I haven’t even cooked with them yet. Coming downstairs this morning, my mouth watered just thinking about the makhani I plan to make for dinner tonight.

Chef Macwan’s Upcoming Events

Beginning on March 16, Macwan will be teaching another series of classes called, “Indian Style Breads.” The course, which will also take place at Altantic Cape Community College, will cover flat breads, fried breads, and stuffed breads. The campus is set in a beautiful, heavily forested area of Mays Landing about a half hour from the Jersey Shore. Find out more on their website.

Private Cooking Lessons with Chef Macwan

Macwan also offers private group cooking classes. If you’re looking for a creative gift for the foodie in your life or even a date night idea, contact her to find out more. You can read more about Macwan’s cooking adventures on her blog Spice Culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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.

South Jersey Nonprofit Unites Community to Tackle Hunger

Looking for a family-friendly way to help tackle hunger in South Jersey? Check out COMMUNITY.

On Sunday, February 10, South Jersey nonprofit COMMUNITY [sic] hosted an event at LourdesCare in Cherry Hill. Founded in November 2016 by a group of friends, the organization aims to bring people together to serve local communities in need.

This Sunday, volunteers assembled 400 bagged lunches that were then delivered to Project Home, Anna M. Sample Women’s Shelter, and underserved populations in Camden. The bags contained bagels with cream cheese; turkey and cheese sandwiches, granola bars; bananas; apples; and bottled water, items donated by volunteers.

I recently learned of the program through my friend Chetna Macwan, a local chef and culinary instructor who volunteers at COMMUNITY with her children. She explained that COMMUNITY events, which often take place on weekends, are family-friendly.

Because I brought my four-year-old son with me, I was relieved to see other young children at the event. By the time we arrived, the room bustled with busy volunteers. We were greeted by friendly faces who directed us toward kid-friendly ways to help.

We stayed for an hour, during which time my son helped place label stickers on the brown lunch bags. We also got to help put food items into the bags. The organization was kind enough to provide snacks and juice for the kids in attendance.

My impression of COMMUNITY was of a well-run organization with a sincere mission to help local communities. Finding kid-friendly volunteer opportunities isn’t easy, especially since I wouldn’t want our attendance to be a hindrance to any charity.

We felt welcomed at COMMUNITY, and I found the event to be a good opportunity to introduce the idea of hunger to my son in an age-appropriate way. He enjoyed having the chance to help out, and we hope to attend more COMMUNITY events in the future.

Want to help? Check out COMMUNITY ‘s Facebook page, which provides a listing of upcoming events. High school and college students can also apply for an internship with COMMUNITY through their website.

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

8+ South Jersey Food Events to Check Out This Weekend (1/12 – 1/13)

Looking for something to do this weekend? Don’t let cold weather keep you cooped up.

Country Music Night at Summit City Winery, Saturday, 1/12, 7 – 10 pm

Image credit: photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Yee-haw! Head to Summit City Winery for wine, snacks, and country music.

$10 cover charge includes light snacks. Outside food permitted.

500 University Blvd., Glassboro, New Jersey

January Restart Weekend at Whole Foods Market, January 11 – 13, 11 am – 2 pm

Image credit: photo by Melissa Belanger on Unsplash

Looking to eat healthier? Sample new products and check out live cooking demos at Whole Foods’ January Restart Weekend event.

940 Route 73 North, Marlton, New Jersey

OR

1558 North Kings Highway, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Live Music at Auburn Road Winery, Saturday, 1/12, 7 – 9 pm

Image credit: photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The Traveling Woodburys perform on Auburn Road Winery’s Vineyard Stage. Bring friends and dine on wood-fired pizza and other Italian specialties.

$8 admission (does not include food)

117 Sharptown-Auburn Rd, Pilesgrove, New Jersey

Live Music at White Horse Winery, Saturday, 1/12, 2 – 5 pm

Image credit: photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Visit White Horse Winery’s indoor tasting room or their outdoor patio (weather depending) for their live music series. This Saturday, musician Laura Shay performs.  

Admission is free. No outside food or drink permitted.2

106 Hall Street, Hammonton, New Jersey

Live Music at Sharrott Winery, Saturday, 1/12, 6 – 9 pm

Image credit: photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Check out Sharrott’s Winery’s live music series. This Saturday, musician Mike Lunemann performs. Enjoy indoor or outdoor seating. Wine tasting and Wine Bar food menu available at additional cost. F

Admission is free. No outside food or drink permitted.

370 South Egg Harbor Road, Hammonton, New Jersey

Lunch and Learn at Lucky Bones, Saturday, 1/12, 12 – 3 pm

Image credit: photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash

Learn about Victorian Vices at this week’s installment of Lucky Bones Backwater Grille’s Lunch and Learn Series.

$20 per person.

Reservations required: (609) 884-2663

1200 NJ-109, Cape May, New Jersey

Sunday Social Benefiting Cape May Stage, Sunday, 1/13, 10:30 – am – 2:30 pm

Come to Fins Bar and Grille for a Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar, brunch, or lunch. Fifty percent of all proceeds benefit Cape May Stage.

142 Decatur St, Cape May, New Jersey

Winter Restaurant Week at the Melting Pot, Sunday, 1/13 – 1/27

Image credit: photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

For this special event, the Melting Pot is offering a four-course dinner with your choice of three entrees.

$35 per person

584 NJ-38, Maple Shade Township, New Jersey

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.