Families will welcome the new trend adapted by many restaurants in New Jersey. Knowing that there are countless families who are fond of eating out, these restaurants are now offering family style dinners.
Restaurants that offer family-style dining serve food the way it is served at home. For instance, in these types of restaurants, the main and the side dishes are offered at the table in serving bowls or on platters which are passed between the diners. The diners then take the foodstuffs that they want and put them in their own plates.
Eating out occasionally is good for families. There is a research study done in Syracuse University which proves that eating dinner together often is associated with stronger family ties, happier marriages, and better health for the kids.
An added benefit of eating out at family style restaurants is the opportunity to teach the kids the appropriate table etiquette and good manners. The attendant conversation and sharing of experiences around the dinner table also enhances the development of the children’s personalities.
If the parents are used to eating the right kinds of foods, this practice will eventually be taken up by the kids if the family is often eating at family style restaurants. Of course, the dining out experience will be better if families chose the right restaurants that offer family style meals.
Here are some of the New Jersey restaurants that offer family style dinner that any family will surely love.
Texas Smoke Barbecue in Jefferson
The owner of this joint saw the growing popularity of family style dinners in restaurants and hitched on the idea early on. “I could see the trend was going that way,” said Scott Reid. “People are always looking for value,” he added.
He got the idea of family style dinners in one of the barbecue joints that he often visits in Texas. This restaurant serves food on platters according to the number of the family members on the dinner table.
When he and his wife started their restaurant Texas Smoke Barbecue almost 6 years ago, he brought the family-style dinner setting. He continued this attractive concept of dining even when they relocated their restaurant at Jefferson, less than three years ago.
Family style meals at Texas Barbeque are classified according to the number of family members. Their meals start at four family members. One meal of this type consists of 1 1/3 pounds of meat, two large savory sides and four rolls. As the number increases, so is the amount of the food the meal contains.
Nonna’s Citi Cucina in Malboro
Nonna’s Citi Cucina was established 13 years ago. Even at the start, the owners wanted to serve family-style dinners only. However, the restaurant modified their menu and offered a la carte dining three years ago.
But they kept their core menu on their list which is a lunch menu consisting of oversized platters for large groups.
“Family style is more festive, and there’s more variety,” says Joe Mosco, owner of the joint. “Instead of everyone waiting for their entrée to come, they are all sharing. It’s a prelude to conversation,” he adds.
This restaurant offers three choices for group sharing. They are Fresco, Classico and Supremo. Fresco is a lighter three course meal, two appetizers and a salad with a dessert and coffee; Classico has two appetizers and two salads with a dessert and coffee; and Supremo has tree appetizers, two salads, and three entrees, plus dessert and coffee.
“People don’t necessarily come for the value but rather the experience,” explains Mosco. “But for the amount of food you get, it is a good value. You’ve got a lot of variety, and there are usually leftovers,” he enthuses.
Civile Cucina Italiana in Metuchen
Civile Cucina Italian is the latest pet project of restaurateur Nick Borzone. Nick has always offered family style meals at his restaurant Lola Latin Bistro where his patrons enjoy a Latin-fusion version of “todos-juntos.”
Nick’s latest Italian venture at Civile Cucina has a similar concept known as “a la famiglia”. But while Lola Latin’s meals are for large groups of eight or more people, Civile Cucina is limited to just about six or more.
The dinner table at Civile can easily accommodate a festive group of five or six. Diners can expect the same number of appetizers, and entrees of pasta, chicken, seafood and veal or steak.
The main meal is usually topped with an array of six or seven homemade desserts, such as cannoli, marscapone cheesecake, chocolate mouse and tartufo.
“It gives us the opportunity to showcase what’s really good in the restaurant and gets you to try something different,” says Nick. He said that his restaurant staff makes it a point to consult with their clients on the kind of food they prefer.
“We want to create a connection with the restaurant, like you’re eating at home…it sounds screwy, but it’s really successful,” he explains.