If I am not cooking a family meal or creating a special dinner for a date night in, I am dining out at one our favorite restaurants. From Staten Island to Providence back to Brooklyn and New Jersey, wherever we’ve lived, I’ve found my favorite restaurants– places we can depend upon for fantastic food and services. Wherever we live, we become regulars. This page is where I will tell you all about where we love to eat and why.
Favorite Spots in Cranford, New Jersey
- Ambeli Greek Taverna:
Ambeli opened its doors in November of 2015, and my husband and I quickly became regulars. Before I even tasted the food, I fell in love with this restaurant. The owner, Chris, and his brother Billy immediately made us feel welcomed. They were quick to introduce themselves, they were attentive without being intrusive, and they were gracious hosts and grateful for our business. And, our dining experience only got better as the food arrived!
We have now been dining here for three years, and we have yet to find a dish that is anything but delicious. Our favorites appetizers include the octopus and the saganaki cheese; we’ve literally gotten into an argument over who gets the last piece of octopus (guess who won?). The horiatiki salad is also a go-to choice to start the meal.
For entrees, my husband loves the paidakia: lamb chops, grilled to perfection and served with hand cut fries and spinach. I usually opt for a seafood entree: both the branzini and dorado are amazing, served whole with lemon olive oil and capers. If I get one of the whole fish, I always opt for a side of the lemon potatoes, which quite frankly have become legendary amongst my local foodie friends. Another favorite entree is the thalassino giouvetsi: a clay pot filled with the freshest, most perfectly cooked shellfish in a light tomato sauce with fresh herbs and orzo. Then, if we have room, we round out the meal with the galaktoboureko: flaky phyllo dough filled with a creamy custard and topped with a honey syrup. I am not normally a dessert person, but this dish converted me. It’s just that good!
A few other things about Ambeli: The prices are reasonable and the portions are perfect. The waitstaff is courteous and attentive. And, it is BYOB! If this isn’t reason enough to dine here, let me offer you another one: Chris, the owner, is perhaps the most unabashedly humble yet generous restaurateur out there. If it is chilly outside during your wait for a table, he will personally bring you some complimentary appetizers. And, when our local schools needed a premiere sponsor for a fundraiser 5K race, Chris did not hesitate to volunteer. He is, without question, as grateful to his customers as they are to him for offering us such a wonderful dining destination. If you have not been, I don’t know what you’re waiting for!