CALANDRA’S MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
IL VECCHIO CAFÉ
The Calandra family name is synonymous with freshly-baked bread you’ve likely seen in your supermarket. The family-owned business also has three Restaurants known for authentic Italian cuisine. We recently ate at Cucina Calandra in a beautifully decorated heated tent. The pasta, meat and seafood menu has one of the best lasagnas we’ve ever had. Calandra’s Mediterranean Grill has outdoor igloos and a spacious tent. il Vecchio Café serves generously portioned Italian dishes and wood-fired pizzas in a sprawling space with a bar and outdoor tent.
FIG & LILY GARDEN
This Morristown BYOB favorite specializes in contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant uses locally-sourced ingredients including in-season produce and charcoal-grilled meats to embellish classic dishes. Fig & Lily’s heated garden igloos have two windows and a door which are kept open for maximum ventilation. Reserve one of 10 igloos—each accommodates up to eight people. Standout dishes include the Mediterranean Branzino Filet, Cheese Philly Rolls, Quinoa and Avocado Salad, Roasted Squash and Adana Pistachio, which is marinated beef and lamb char-grilled and rolled in lavash with kasseri cheese served with eggplant béchamel. The Chocolate Soufflé is a dessert favorite.
One of NJ’s most-buzzed-about restaurants for its gorgeous, authentic Greek dishes, stocked bar and celebrity sightings, Elia has a pristine outdoor dining tent setup that channels a Santorini vibe. Popular dishes include Watermelon Honey Fried Cheese, Sesame Crusted Feta and Grilled Octopus. The sushi grade grilled octopus is served with potatoes, grape tomatoes, balsamic onions and romesco sauce. The sesame-crusted feta is also served with grape tomatoes plus olives, red wine poached dried figs and mint. The feta is barrel-aged and its soft, milky texture pairs perfectly with crunchy sesame and figs. It’s also totally addictive. Don’t leave without ordering the homemade sangria.
FOX & FALCON
This South Orange standout has outdoor tents and a cozy patio with heaters and fire pits. We’re a big fan of executive chef Ruby Felix-Curtis and her seasonally driven, locally-sourced menu influenced by her Filipino roots. Put one of these signature dishes on your must-order list: Hot Soba Noodles, Filipino Fried Half Chicken, Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich or Roasted Cauliflower with romesco sauce, fire-roasted grapes, toasted hazelnuts and black pepper agave vinaigrette. The cocktails are just as special as the food and each has its own unique appeal. We recommend The Snowbird, made with tequila reposado, aperol, vanilla, grapefruit and lime and the Reservation Rye, made with old overholt rye, pernod, peychauds bitters and flamed lemon.
Kitchen Step is a modern American bistro in the historic Van Vorst neighborhood of Jersey City. The outdoor dining area has cozy fire pits and greenhouses adorned with heaters and twinkle lights. Come for light bites, locally-sourced entrees with vegetarian and vegan-friendly options and craft cocktails. Standout dishes include the Kale Caesar Salad, Crispy Zucchini Fries, PEI Mussels Frites and a Seasonal Vegetable Curry. Daily provisions specials come with a specialty craft cocktail. The Redhead from Holidays Past which is served warm and made with Misunderstood ginger whiskey, white hot chocolate, chai, graham cracker and mistletoe biters is among the most popular on the menu.
IT’S GREEK TO ME
A beloved authentic BYOB Greek cuisine staple in downtown Ridgewood, It’s Greek to Me has eight heated greenhouses along East Ridgewood Avenue and Chestnut Street. Dressed up with string lights and seasonal decor, each greenhouse serves up to four people and is disinfected and aired out with a sanitary blower between diners. We love the Beef, Chicken, Shrimp or Vegetable Souvlaki platters, Moussaka (made with eggplant, potato, ground beef and béchamel), Seafood Orzo and Saganaki. Fried Zucchini with Tzatziki, Eggplant Salad and It’s Greek to Me Mac ‘N’ Cheese served with feta and kasseri are all must-try apps. Greenhouses are not available at locations in Fort Lee, Englewood and Clifton.
STAGE HOUSE TAVERN
This historic restaurant has roots dating back to the 17th century. Originally the Stage House Inn, it was built in 1737 by John Sutton and served as a meeting place for troop messengers and officers during the Revolutionary War. Set up with toasty outdoor heaters and ambient lights, this Scotch Plains staple boasts daily all-you-can-eat happy hour specials, like signature wings and fries on Sundays and Mondays and homemade raviolis (we’re talking Chicken Saltimbocca and Goat Cheese) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other menu musts include Parm Crusted Chicken, the Tavern Burger served with bacon jam and bourbon sauce and Spiked Hot Chocolate with bourbon and vanilla liqueur. Outdoor dining is not available at the Mountainside and Somerset locations during the winter.
YANKEE DOODLE TAP ROOM
Located in Palmer Square in the heart of downtown Princeton, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room is beloved for its burgers, ribs and signature house salads. Vegetarians will love the Wild Mushroom Grilled Cheese. The menu also has some standout small plates including Burratta Naan made with red onions, basil, arugula, tomato and prosciutto with balsamic glaze and fig spread. Not surprisingly, Yankee Doodle Tap Room has 19 craft beers on tap. Its wine list and signature seasonal cocktails are also impressive. Order a hot cocktail to instantly warm up. Our favorite at the moment is the Pumpkin Spiced Hot Cider made with Captain Morgan, pumpkin liquor, apple cider, cinnamon cloves and nutmeg. If you’re a chocolate fan, you’ll love the Yankee Doodle Cocoa made with Van Gogh Caramel, Kahlua, Baileys Caramel Irish Cream, hot cocoa and whipped cream. There is a $150 order minimum to reserve a small igloo. After your meal, stop by the neighboring Lindt store for a truffle and if you have young kids learning to ice skate, swing by the ice skating rink in Palmer Square.
You can’t beat the ocean views at 100 Ocean and Branch Catina, the two restaurants that are a part of the Wave Resort in Long Branch. Both have patio heaters all winter. 100 Ocean is an American Mediterranean brasserie known for its seafood and local, in-season ingredients. Branch Cantina serves up Mexican classics, handcrafted Margaritas, and more than 100 Tequilas and Mezcals. Bundle up for a winter beach stroll after your meal or take a walk through Pier Village.
MARCUS AT NOHU ROOFTOP
There are heated igloos and then there are heated igloos on a rooftop with views of the Hudson River. Marcus at NoHu Rooftop in Weehawken offers private igloos dinners or you can have a cozy night by the firepits on the rooftop. Located in Port Imperial, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Manhattan skyline as you sip a craft cocktail and have a meal from Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s locally sourced seasonally-inspired menu. Each igloo experience requires a food and beverage minimum of $250 Sunday to Thursday and $500 Friday and Saturday, not including tax and gratuity. All reservations are valid for 2 hours, and igloos are sanitized between reservations.
For more igloo dining spots, click here. Have a favorite outdoor dining spot we should add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.
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