December Dine Out: 3 Resident Reviews

Why should we have all the fun? You deserve to take a break and eat out—then tell us about Bergen’s best eateries.



Dining—particularly with good company—is something that can literally be savored for hours. These BERGEN readers share their holiday dining experiences, from tempting appetizers to mouth-watering entrees (there’s no fruitcake here!). There is plenty to “unwrap” and discover at these eateries.

Janice Is Just Right

From the front, Just Janice is nondescript— it blends in with the other storefronts along Sheridan Avenue in Ho-Ho-Kus. But inside this hidden gem is sensory overload, specifically for your olfactory organs and taste buds. Owner Janice Tinari has operated the restaurant under different names over the years, but many of the offerings have remained constant. Though the menu boasts various seasonal options, other selections provide the perfect warmth and comfort typically associated with a holiday dinner.

Mahwah resident Melissa Seiden, 44, recalls a dinner she enjoyed with her husband last December. They split two appetizers, Parmesan truffle fries and a Caprese salad that Seiden describes as “divine.” “The fresh mozzarella was complemented perfectly by the savory prosciutto,” she says. The entrees, however, were the stars. From the menu that also included seafood, chicken and pasta dishes, Seiden and her husband went with the pork osso buco and a perfect medium-rare ribeye. “The osso buco was fall-off-the-bone delicious, and it was served with a creamy vegetable risotto that was to die for,” she says.

Reservations at Just Janice are recommended, and the restaurant is BYO. “Carlo Russo’s Wine and Spirits is conveniently nearby,” Seiden says, “so it’s easy to pick up a bottle if you want to wine and dine.”

Just Janice, 23 Sheridan Ave., Ho-Ho-Kus, 201.445.2666, justjanice.net

Bibi'z: The Place to Be

With a melting pot of dining options in downtown Westwood, Bibi’z Restaurant & Lounge is the cream of the crop. It’s a popular destination for the happy hour crowd (there’s a cozy and chic bar area), but the food is truly what sets it apart from others. Owner Ida Assaf crafted a healthful menu that combines the best of light Mediterranean fare and rich, flavorful decadence. “You can start with something light like stuffed grape leaves, then follow it with a hearty rack of lamb,” notes Khalid Durian, 39, of Westwood. He dined with his girlfriend at Bibi’z during the holidays last year, taking advantage of the restaurant’s Christmas Eve specials.

The couple started with lamb meatballs and sesame-crusted tuna. Both dishes were gluten-free, ideal for Durian’s girlfriend, who has Celiac disease. “The plates were perfect in size and shareable,” he recalls. “We didn’t want to fill up before our entrees arrived.” For their main course, Durian had a juicy ribeye while his girlfriend ordered the pan-seared scallops with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. “It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had,” he recalls. “It came with a sweet potato that complemented the rich, buttery flavor of the meat.”

Reservations at Bibi’z are recommended. The restaurant offers Christmas Eve brunch and dinner menus as well as a New Year’s Eve special and party.

Bibi’z Restaurant & Lounge, 284 Center Ave., Westwood, 201.722.8600, bibizlounge.com

That's L'Amore!

Locals love Café L’Amore because it dishes out some of the area’s best pizzas from the front of the restaurant. In the back, however, diners come from all over Bergen for fine Italian dining. How well-liked is it? The always-packed parking lot speaks volumes. Inside the cozy dining room is a mix of longtime fans and first-timers, enjoying a range of dishes—pastas, steaks, seafood and pizzas. “I absolutely love the assortment,” says William Hester, 35, of Ridgewood, who visits Café L’Amore regularly with his parents.

When they dine, the Hesters always start with an order of fried calamari and grilled Portobello mushrooms. “The mushrooms are large, and the size of the order is generous,” Hester says. “And the burgundy sauce gives them a zest that really hits your taste buds.” For one dinner around the holidays, Hester recalls ordering from the specials menu. “I had an amazing wild salmon that was stuffed with crab meat,” he recalls. “It was covered with a tangy wine sauce that just gave the dish an extra oomph.” Though it’s easy to fill up on apps and the main course, saving room for dessert is a must. “The choices from the dessert platter are all so tempting,” Hester says. “The cannoli is a can’t-miss, but you also can’t go wrong with a slice of carrot or chocolate cake.”

Reservations at Café L’Amore are recommended, and the restaurant is BYO. Valet parking is provided.

Café L’Amore, 455 Ramapo Valley Rd., Oakland, 201.337.5558, cafelamore.com

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December 2018

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: Church of the Assumption
Telephone: 201-262-1122
Contact Name: Father Paul Cannariato
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Cost: free

Where:
Mahwah Public Library
100 Ridge Road
Mahwah, NJ  07430
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Sponsor: Mahwah Public Library
Telephone: 201-529-7323
Contact Name: Mahwah Public Library
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Preparing for Christmas "Spiritually" Concert with Al Barbarino In the past 15 years, Al has recorded 8 CD's with music that just radiates God's love to the listener....

Cost: Free

Where:
Church of the Assumption
29 Jefferson Ave.
Emerson, NJ  07630
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Sponsor: Church of the Assumption
Telephone: 201-262-1122
Contact Name: Father Paul Cannariato
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Cost: $5.00

Where:
Mahwah Public Library
100 Ridge Road
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Sponsor: Mahwah Public Library
Telephone: 201-529-7323
Contact Name: Mahwah Public Library
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Laugh the loudest for your favorite improvisation! In this comedic tour de force, WP students prompt suggestions from the audience and create improvisations that will have you rolling in the aisles!

Cost: More info: stroppele@wpunj.edu

Where:
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Telephone: 973.720.2371
Contact Name: Phillip Sprayberry
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Kevin Woyce uses original photography, vintage images, and live music to explore favorite Christmas traditions from the First Christmas to "A Christmas Carol", "White...

Cost: free

Where:
Mahwah Public Library
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Mahwah, NJ  07430
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Sponsor: Mahwah Public Library
Telephone: 201-529-7323
Contact Name: Mahwah Public Library
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Sketches are written and performed by WP students in a fun-filled evening of laughter. If you like Saturday Night Live, then this is the show f or you!

Cost: More info: stroppele@wpunj.edu

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Telephone: 212-993-5815

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Sponsor: WP Presents!
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Contact Name: Phillip Sprayberry
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Sponsor: Bergen County Historical Society
Telephone: 201-343-9492
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Telephone: 973.720.2371
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