Welcome to the NJ.com food and culture team’s local dining guide series! For the next several months, our writers will publish a weekly guide to eating in a different foodie hub, tapping North, Central and South Jersey and everything in between. These lists are curated to give diners a mix of cuisines and the best restaurant experiences to indulge this summer and beyond. Let’s dig in!
Morristown has long held a reputation as one of North Jersey’s top food towns. Myriad bars, pubs and New American eateries ring the lush Morristown Green. Pizzerias, taquerias, Southern food spots and international offerings line the streets that feed into the center of town. It’s the unquestioned top place to eat in Morristown.
But that reputation can be intimidating. Where should you go to eat in Morristown?
That’s where I come in. I have spent that last three months making the trek to Morris County’s cultural epicenter, eating at every restaurant I could to find the best bites. My travels were revealing — some restaurants with big reputations disappointed and didn’t even make the cut. Newcomers that have yet to make a name for themselves surprised and climbed up the list.
So let’s hit Morristown Green and beyond for some pints and some plates. Here are the 11 best restaurants in Morristown, based on food quality, creativity, service, dining experience and value.
11. Millie’s Old World Meatballs & Pizza
Any restaurant with meatballs in the name is going to grab the attention of passing red sauce-blooded New Jerseyans. Millie’s titular meatballs are indeed great (they better be with a name like that) coming in at No. 22 on NJ.com’s list of best meatballs in the state. But Millie’s, which also maintains a location in Staten Island, offers much more than that with impressive Italian fare in a casual but fun setting. Their coal-fired pizzas enjoy the fluffy texture of a Neapolitan pie but much larger in size. The spicy sopressata pie was the best I had on my visit. Chargrilled oysters didn’t seem like the kind of dish you would find at an Italian restaurant, but when I saw them on the menu I had to order them. They were hot, sizzling and topped with a vibrant herb butter. And the creamsicle ice cream pie alone was worth a return trip.
Try: The chargrilled oysters ($16)
10. Pierogies House
It’s a lot easier to find ravioli in New Jersey than it is pierogi — we love our Italian food, what can I say? But that makes finding a good pierogi spot that much more special. Pierogis House chef and owner Evelina Berc brings food from her hometown of Leżajsk, Poland to Morristown with her grandmother’s recipes. Delicate hand-made pierogis ranging from classics like potato and cheese, sauerkraut and kielbasa and spinach and feta to more contemporary takes on the dish like cheesesteak and buffalo chicken. Those last few aren’t Berc’s grandmother’s recipe, but they’re still excellent. You can get them fried, but boiling them better showcases the delicate texture of the dough. Topped with caramelized onions and sour cream, it’s a plate of Polish comfort food that will rival any ravioli in New Jersey. The potato latkes here are so crispy and flavorful that I may have to order some for Hanukkah this winter. The dining room at Pierogies House is small and minimalist, but when you have delicious pierogi you don’t need much more.
Try: The potato and farmer’s cheese pierogi ($14)
9. South + Pine
One line of Leia Gaccione’s resume is enough to garner a visit to South + Pine, but her list of impressive accolades goes on and on. The Passaic native has appeared on numerous television shows, including “Top Chef,” “Chopped,” “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Iron Chef America.” That experience, plus years of training at restaurants around New York, New Jersey and Las Vegas has helped her craft one of the best New American menus in a town full of them. Her creativity is on display with dishes like crispy pork chops, grilled salmon with Korean barbecue glaze and kimchi fried rice, and New Jersey corn empanadas. The heirloom tomato panzanella with mint and tomato labneh is a refershing salad perfect to enjoy on the restaurant’s patio. But the most impressive dish on the menu is without question the “Fried Chix 2.0″ which puts chicken and waffles at most other New Jersey restaurants to shame. The sweet cornflake crust on the succulent chicken contrasts the sour cream and chive waffle to lovely effect, all topped with bacon maple syrup.
Try: Fried Chix 2.0 ($32)
Morristown isn’t exactly known for Indian food — no one will be confusing Mo’Town with Jersey City or Iselin in that category anytime soon. But it’s a credit to the town’s food scene that just off the Morristown Green is one of the best Indian restaurants in the Garden State. From the Mehtani Restaurant Group that operates upscale restaurants around the state, Mehndi serves Indian classics in a classy high-end environment. The murgh vindaloo is spicy without being overpowering and the chicken is succulent. Intimidated by spice? The tikka masala may be basic, but that doesn’t make it any less flavorful. Like much Indian cuisine, there are plenty of tasty vegetarian options as well like aloo ghobi masala and paneer butter masala. Mehndi’s executive lunch includes a starter, an entree, and a bread accompaniment along with complimentary dal and rice for $18.95. Compared to other prices around the Green? An absolute steal. The dimly lit, orange-hued dining room gives a meal at Mehndi adds to the ambiance, but if it’s nice out eating on their patio is just as pleasant.
Try: The executive lunch, which comes with a starter, an entree, a bread option, dal and rice ($18.95)
7. 1776 by David Burke
At this point, it might be easier to name where David Burke doesn’t have a restaurant than where he does. The Hazlet native owns 17 restaurants across New Jersey (nine in this state alone) New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and even Saudi Arabia. Burke opened 1776 by David Burke in Morristown in 2021, a sprawling 15,400 square-foot venue with indoor and outdoor dining, multiple bars, several event spaces for parties and presentations and … Top Golf. That’s right, it’s a restaurant with a golf simulator attached to it. You know, just in case you want to grab a steak and then work on your swing.
The vibe at 1776 is boisterous and loud, with large dining rooms and live music performed throughout the week — though the wait staff is accommodating if you would like to be seated in a quieter nook of the eatery. If you’ve eaten at one of Burke’s Garden State restaurants, the menu will probably look familiar to you. No trip to a Burke restaurant would be complete without ordering his signature bacon on a clothesline, served with a sweet and spicy black pepper maple glaze. Everybody is throwing lobster into macaroni and cheese these days (including here) but what about lobster spinach and artichoke dip? The fancy version of the popular dip was the early star of the meal, along with the sweet and spicy General Tso’s cauliflower and broccoli. There is plenty of seafood on the menu, but Burke is best known for his cuts of beef — you won’t regret ordering a steak here. And while you’re placing your dinner order, go ahead and order the tin can chocolate cake, which is made to order and worth the wait — a tin of gooey molten chocolate topped with vanilla gelato and whipped cream.
Try: The General Tso’s cauliflower and broccoli ($19)
6. Azure The Greek Mediterranean
The downward journey into the building’s ground floor, plus a blue nautical theme, make eating at Azure feel like a meal below deck in a ship — in a good way. Fancier than your typical Greek restaurant (this is no gyro stand) and with the prices to prove it, Azure boasts an intimate dining room and a warm wait staff. The menu is loaded with standard Greek fare executed at a high level. Sweet stuffed grape leaves, creamy tzatziki and vibrant Greek salads loaded with lemon olive oil dressing and feta cheese are excellent starters. The spanakopita is flakey up top and both smokey and creamy inside once you get to the spinach filling — which almost tastes more like creamed spinach from a steakhouse than a Greek restaurant. Lemony, buttery swordfish was the special when I last visited, and it was cooked to perfection. The chicken souvlaki, meanwhile, was a strong take on the Greek standby, tender and paired with delectably roasted eggplant cream and lemony potatoes.
Try: The stuffed grape leaves ($15)
5. Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen
xFew restaurants in New Jersey scream “special occasion” like James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Cannon’s restaurant inside Vail Mansion. Jockey Hollow looms ominously over Morristown and in a way, the New Jersey dining scene. Pulling your car onto the grounds and stepping made me feel like I had reservations at Wayne Manor — if Batman was an excellent chef. Some restaurants skate by on ambiance alone, but Jockey Hollow’s serves cuisine worthy of the posh environ — a restaurant that finds a way to make fine dining approachable even for neophyte foodies. The fresh oysters with delicate pomegranate mignonette and grilled asparagus with prosciutto, poached egg and hollandaise sauce were among the best appetizers I had on any of my journeys to Morristown for this list.
The main courses are just as impressive, the sweet onion risotto cooked to a perfect al dente texture while the delicate flavor of the onion permeated every bite of the dish. It may seem gauche to order a burger in such an upper-echelon restaurant. It isn’t. Jockey Hollow’s double smash burger with fontina, roasted garlic aioli and cornichons is proof that a burger can be fine dining. Finish your dinner with their chocolate pot de creme with cinnamon caramel and you’ve had yourself one of the finest meals you’ll find in Morristown. If any place can change your mind about fine dining, it’s here.
Try: The double smash burger with fontina cheese, roasted garlic aioli and cornichons ($29)
4. Central Taqueria
One of the newest restaurants on this list, Central Taqueria opened only in February but is already making a major name for itself in Morristown with some of the tastiest tacos in the state. Raul Santoyo was a banker in Mexico City whose job took him to New Jersey. And while he loved the Garden State, he couldn’t find tacos that compared to what he was used to in Mexico. So he stopped looking and decided to open his own taqueria, featuring incredible al pastor made with spit-roasted pork topped with pineapple. Cooking that al pastor on a trompo — the vertical rotisserie layered with beautiful, thin layers of pork forging a massive cylinder of meat — is the step many taco spots in New Jersey skip. It’s the key to Central Taqueria’s delicious success. Cochinita pibil tacos are harder to find in New Jersey. The dish originated in the Yucatan peninsula, features pork marinated with achiote, orange juice, oregano, cumin and vinegar. It’s then covered with banana leafs and slow-cooked for more than eight hours. It has a kick, especially if you top it with their hot sauce and hot pickled onions, but the flavor is undeniable. Central Taqueria is a small shop with a modest menu — they also serve tortas, quesadillas, platters and appetizers like guacamole, black bean soup and Mexican street corn. But everything they cook is excellent and authentic.
Try: The al pastor tacos ($4.25 each)
3. Stirling Tavern
There are seemingly endless bars, pubs and Taverns in Morristown that purport themselves to be restaurants. Most of them are fine, but they tend to blur together and do nothing to stand out. Burgers. Wings. Bar food. Bland salads. Stirling Tavern differentiates itself by being much more than a tavern, with thoughtful and well-executed dishes paired with stellar cocktails with a bright, inviting ambiance. Plenty of restaurants in Morristown have burger sliders, how many of them are serving them on sweet potato waffle fries with goat cheese? Stirling Tavern’s take on the classic appetizer is one of the absolute best bar bites I’ve had this year. The “snacks” section of the menu has the feel of a fancier restaurant while still having bar room flair, offerings like chipotle-lime crispy chickpeas and voodoo spiced peanuts. But the entrees have to shine to make Stirling Tavern worth the visit, and they absolutely do. The roasted duck breast was juicy and tender, paired with a sweet and spicy chili miso carrot puree and curried cashews that added crunch and spice. If you are going to have one meal at a bar in Morristown, have it here.
Try: The burger bites ($14)
2. Coniglio’s Old Fashioned
Being the best new pizzeria in New Jersey is no small task — there are great slice shops opening up across the state every year. But Coniglio’s is the clear cut best new pizza spot in the Garden State, led by pizzaiolo Nino Coniglio. The man isn’t shy to call himself the “king of the pies” to anyone who will listen, it’s written on every pizza box. But when you open up that box and see the kind of pies he’s making, you’ll be hard-pressed to disagree. Coniglio’s has an impressive arsenal of pizza types, ranging from a Brooklyn round pie to an upside down Sicilian. The latter is a soft, saucy triumph — the Garden State’s answer to L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn. There are no slices available, you’ll have to order a whole pie. That’s no issue, because as soon as you have one slice you’ll want another. It’s that good. The Morristown dining community wasn’t sure how to feel about a new pizzeria coming to town, but it opened last Halloween to much fanfare and a line out the door. Get here early, because this pizza is so popular it often sells out. Combine Coniglio’s terrific pizza with stellar pasta dishes, sandwiches and scrumptious pastries and you have much more than the best new pizzeria in New Jersey. You have one of the best restaurants in Morristown.
Try: The upside down Sicilian pie ($27)
1. Roots Steakhouse
Roots Steakhouse isn’t just the consummate steakhouse, it’s the best restaurant in all of Morristown. While Roots may also have locations in Summit and Ridgewood, the Morristown location curates a unique dining experience in this town. From the moment you walk in through the heavy doors into the broad dining room, the air of sophistication hits you — along with the unmistakable scent of sizzling aged beef. The lighting is dim, the leather chairs are comfortable, old time portraits of customers dining in the restaurant adorn the walls. The sharply dressed wait staff attends to your every need.
But nailing the steakhouse aesthetic would be meaningless without, you know, the steak — and all the classic sides that come with a steakhouse dinner. The applewood smoked slab bacon is as good as version served at legendary Peter Luger in Brooklyn, and the colossal lump crab cake is as big as the name suggests. Roots’ chilled seafood platter is opulence on a plate, loaded with lobster, oysters, shrimp cocktail and tuna tartare. The list of steaks here is predictably long, from the petit filet mignon to the 42-ounce prime porterhouse for two. They are all aged and cooked to perfection. Don’t overthink it, get the porterhouse medium rare and strap in for a beefy feast. If you’re avoiding red meat, the chilean sea bass with beurre blanc is flakey and succulent.
I have eaten at steakhouses across the state. Few match up with Roots. I have eaten at restaurants across Morristown. None of them touch Roots.
Try: The 20 oz. dry-aged cowboy steak ($55.95), but if you’re really looking to splurge? Try the porterhouse for two ($149.95)
More 2023 local dining guides:
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Atlantic City’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Cape May’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Hoboken’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Lambertville’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Long Beach Island’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Montclair’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Newark’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
New Brunswick’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Paterson’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Point Pleasant Beach’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
Red Bank’s 11 greatest restaurants, ranked, for 2023
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Jeremy Schneider may be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @J_Schneider and on Instagram at @JeremyIsHungryAgain.