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Best of Bergen Restaurants: 2010

201 Magazine recently published their yearly readers poll of the Best of Bergen 2010, online here (click).  It doesn't seem to be online yet, but I'll update this post once it is.

Since I haven't done a "best of" in a while, I figured I'd list their winners, and then provide the real (my) answers. 

Best Italian Food

201 says Aldo's, Wyckoff
t:e says Rocca, Glen Rock

I've never eaten at Aldo's, and I haven't eaten at Rocca in all of 2009 (presumably when the "Best of 2010" votes apply), but Rocca serves very good food with very good service.  You'll find the typical red sauce classics (their existence on the menu is merely to appease those who want them, from what I figure), but overall Chef Levy does a nice job with his twist on Italian food.  A great neighborhood spot.

Best Burger

201 says Bobby's Burger Palace, Paramus
t:e says Bistro 55, Rochelle Park

Having never braved the crowds at BBP, I'm told by friends that it's a "solid burger."  And I don't doubt that one bit.  This is a tough category because there are so many styles of burgers.  But, I've been really enjoying the grass fed burger at Bistro 55.  It hits all of the marks.  If you're looking for more of a Bobby's Burger Palace style, Jersey Burgers in Ramsey might do the trick.

Best Seafood

201 says Varka, Ramsey
t:e says Oceanos, Fair Lawn

Tough category, especially with so many Greek fish houses popping up over the past few years.  Varka is a fine restaurant, but Oceanos takes it for me.  The food is wonderful and the service the tops. There's no beating the hospitality of the Panteleakis family and their staff.  No beating it at all.  And the fish is top-notch.

Best Sushi

201 says Sakura Bana, Ridgewood
t:e says Ho-Ho-Kus Sushi Cafe, Ho-Ho-Kus

Sakura Bana gets the votes, and deserves them.  But the relatively little known gem up the road a bit serves some stellar sushi, without the huge lines or parking hassles.

Favorite New Restaurant

201 says Nisi Estiatorio, Englewood
t:e says Bistro 55, Rochelle Park

I sometimes feel like a pimp for this place.  Or is it a whore.  It's probably a whore.  Regardless, Bistro 55 is a restaurant that, quite frankly, I feel I designed;  a cocktail program, very good, simple food prepared well, good service and bartenders, a nice long bar, a wide selection of microbrews, music on all the time.  It has hands down become the t:e organization's go-to spot for a good drink, good food, and good fun.

Best Martini

201 says a tie with Blend, Ridgewood & Chakra in Paramus
t:e says a tie with Bistro 55, Rochelle Park & Oceanos, Fair Lawn

This is sort of a dopey category.  A martini, at least for most people, is nothing more than straight vodka, served cold.  What separates the "good" from the "bad" is size, and chill.  Cocktails with chocolate and neon colored fruity juices need not apply to the 'martini' category.  Bistro 55 and Oceanos serve big, cold glasses of vodka, which the missus finds just lovely.  I don't touch the stuff.

Best Sports Bar

201 says The Office
t:e says can't we do better than a bland, cookie-cutter chain?  I don't watch sports, especially at bars, so I don't have a dog in this race.

Best Happy Hour

201 says: a tie with The Ivy Inn, Hasbrouck Heights & The Office, Ridgewood
t:e says  My family room.  I have better music, a better beer selection, and a betterly stocked bar than just about every place in NJ.  The bartender is handsome and charming.  It's the place to be.  Tough to get into, though.

Best Place for Breakfast

201 says Country Pancake House

t:e says why do people stand on the sidewalk waiting for dessert at 8 am?  If I'm forced to have breakfast that's not a bowl of fruit or cereal, I end up at the Coach House Diner in Hackensack.

Best Dessert Menu

201 says Ivy Inn, Hasbrouck Heights
t:e says I haven't looked at a dessert menu in forever.  No help here.

Best Place for a Girls' Night Out

201 says Blend
t:e says all the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up.  

Best Mexican

201 says Blue Moon (various locations)
t:e says Rosa Mexicano, Hackensack & 3 Chicas, Wyckoff

Rose Mexicano for upscale quasi-mexican.  3 Chica's in Wyckoff for a clean, friendly taqueria.

Favorite Restaurant Personality

201 says Don Dickstein (Andiamo), Aldo Cascio (Aldo's), Buddy Gebhardt (The Park and Orchard)
t:e says  I've never met those fellas, though they seem nice.  My favorite restaurant personality is the waiter who says his name is "Danny" at Chengdu 23 in Wayne.  He has rubbed my face, and I think he kissed me on my head once. Not sure why.

Best Chinese Food

201 says Golden Dynasty, Hillsdale
t:e says Chengdu 23, Wayne (not Bergen, get over it)

Chengdu 23 has usurped my prior favorite of Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove.  Perhaps because Danny kisses me on the head and grabs my face.  But more likely because they cook some excellent Sichuan-style food that never, ever fails. 

Most Romantic Restaurant

201 says a tie between Chakra, Paramus & The Saddle River Inn
t:e says I can't argue with that.  But the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn is probably very romantic as well, as long as you're not in the bar areas.

Best Pub Grub

201 says Allendale Bar & Grill (AB&G), Allendale
t:e says this is a tough category, because no single restaurant does good burgers and good wings.  Nellie's in Waldwick had great wings, but their burger is an abomination. Bistro 55 in Rochelle park has a great burger and beer, but no wings.  

Best Place for Dad's Night Out

201 says Axia Taverna
t:e says I'm not sure what this category really means.  

Best Diner

201 says Matthew's, Waldwick
t:e says Matthew's clearly has a group of fans who votes every year.  They never lose.  My money is on the Coach House in Hackensack

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

201 says Baumgart's, Ridgewood
t:e says I'll take your word for it.

Best Steak

201 says The Park Steakhouse, Park Ridge
t:e says The River Palm Terrace, Fair Lawn

The RPT serves steak which most closely resembles that of Luger, Ben&Jack's, and Wolfgang's.  A style to which I am partial.

Best Pizza

201 says tie between Kinchley's, Mahwah & Pizza Fusion, Ridgewood
t:e says another tough category.  Like burgers, there are many styles.

When A Mano in Ridgewood has a handle on quality control (and they don't seem to very often), they serve great Neapolitan-style pizza.  For my cracker-crust cravings, I head over to Nellie's in Waldwick.

Notable edit:  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Pizza Town in Elmwood Park, for the best NYC/Jersey Boardwalk style pizza in the state. An enormous oversight.

Best Al Fresco Dining

201 says Varka, Ramsey
t:e says Oceanos, Fair Lawn

It's hard to argue with Varka vote.  I've never actually eaten on the patio at Oceanos.  But, I'm pretty sure it's nice.

Best BBQ

201 says tie between Bourbon BBQ, Wyckoff & Backwoods BBQ, Westwood
I like Bourbon, although I should say that I haven't been in quite some time, as I've been doing BBQ at home quite a bit.   And I thought Backwoods closed, so don't try to go there. 

Best Neighborhood Bar

201 says Dutch House, Fair Lawn
t:e says I don't do neighborhood bars much these days, but if I find myself in a neighborhood bar type of place, it's Nellie's in Waldwick.

Best Brunch

201 says Shelly's Cafe, Teaneck
t:e says the last time I "did" brunch was at East LA in Hoboken, in 1999, when it generally didn't matter how good the brunch was, but how greasy it was and how many margaritas you could drink before getting cut off.  Ahhh, the days of being footloose and fancy free.

So there you have it.  Tell me I'm wrong.