Aside from a clear culinary vision and strong attention to detail, the key to having a successful long running restaurant is about adapting to the changing times, while still remaining consistent. Although restaurants with longevity are a rarity, these local restaurants, all with over 20 years of business under their belt, are not only well-known classics, but favorites.
Over the course of 33 years, The Frog and The Peach of New Brunswick have been pioneers of sustainable cooking. Passed down in 2012 to current Chef-Owner Bruce Lefebvre, Frog and Peach still maintains a menu that corresponds to the locality and availability of fresh produce and farm-fresh ingredients. Standouts like the vintage bar and Garden Room provide a striking and memorable experience, areas in which the restaurant’s industrial history meets present day style. What could be considered a culinary oasis inside an urban town, The Frog and The Peach can’t help but stand out amongst the rest.
Owned and operated by Executive Chef James Laird and his wife Nancy, Restaurant Serenade in Chatham has been in business for 20 years. A fusion of American cuisine and French technique, Chef Laird’s manipulation of locally sourced ingredients and transcendent flavor profiles are what make him, and his restaurant, award-winning. A juxtaposition of both casual and upscale dining experiences, Restaurant Serenade houses a cozy bar area with its own menu, and two elegant dining rooms. Chef Laird cooks what’s in season and sources his produce regionally, maximizing the potential of each ingredient, and each dish can be thoughtfully paired with any of their selected wines.
Since 1994, Café Matisse in Rutherford has been a staple for their eclectic approach towards culinary excellence. Heavily influenced by Europe and French artist Henri Matisse, both the decor and cuisine are bold, colorful, and rooted in history. The indoor dining area is dense with paintings, gold mirrors, and rich fabrics, while the outdoor patio is a replication of a fine French garden. Café Matisse offers a seasonal tasting menu that is frequently changing and carefully conceptualized by Chef-Owner Peter Loria. His menu offers a choice of either a three, four or five course meal, all artfully presented with contrasting colors and textures.
An Italian staple in Chatham, Scalini Fedeli has a history that extends far beyond their 21 years of business. Transformed from a 260-year-old farmhouse, the restaurant has a distinct look and feel that is both rustic and antique, reminiscent of the Italian countryside. Chef-Owner Michael Cetrulo curated a menu that is distinctly Italian, while also paying homage to France, completing dishes with reduced sauces and traditional French ingredients. With an indisputable reputation and modern culinary vision, it’s no wonder that in 2000 Cetrulo opened a sister location in Tribeca.
For 30 years, Café Panache in Ramsey has specialized in simplistic and seasonal cooking. A farm-to-plate style restaurant, Chef-Owner Kevin Kohler sources his ingredients locally, incorporating fresh produce and free range proteins into his dishes. The restaurant underwent a renovation in 2009, resulting in a window-heavy, more ethereal structure that is consistent with their menu, light and clean. Not bound to a specific culinary theme, Chef Kohler simply lets the food speak for itself, focusing on the organic nature in which the ingredients are found and cultivated.