Move over New York, the state of New Jersey may be coming into its own this decade, from a foodie standpoint, with the opening of these new restaurants.

Agricola

Located in Princeton, the long awaited opening of Agricola earlier this year proved to be worth the wait. Located in the former location of Lahiere’s , where Albert Einstein (yes, that Albert Einstein)  was a regular.

Chef, Josh Thomsen, who has developed his craft under the likes of Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Bouchon), and owner, Jim Nawn have designed the ultimate ‘farm to table’ experience.

The décor is eclectic, yet friendly and offers several different seating areas, each morphing into its own unique atmosphere.  While the service can be hit and miss, especially on a busy weekend night, the food is impressively ‘rustic American’. Not to be missed is the Kale Salad and the Roasted Lamb Shoulder for Two.

Thirty Acres

In Jersey City, this new restaurant is considered a destination and worthy of New York City attention.  With an ever changing, seasonal menu (kudos to chef, Kevin Pemoulie) it is here that food presentation reigns supreme.

This is the place to go for beautifully prepared food and for those with a love of quality over quantity.  Since the menu changes based on what’s available, don’t expect to be able to get your favorite dish on demand.  Try the Gardanelli with Beef Shank Ragu, the Whole Roasted Trout, and Kevin’s Mom’s Lemon Bars, a desert so tart and luscious and lemony that it made me want to meet the woman behind the man, not co-owner and wife, Alex Pemoulie, but now-famous “Mom”.

Zeppoli

Located in Collingswood, NJ, it’s not often that a tiny, BYOB joint gets our attention. This one does, with its authentic Sicilian cuisine and dark, slightly noisy atmosphere.  The place is small, just 35 seats, so make a reservation to avoid being disappointed. Chef, Joseph Baldino, remains true to the Italian mastery of food preparation. His motto seems to be start with the finest ingredients, prepare them simply, and let the food speak for itself.

Not to be missed is the Antipasti Siciliano, homemade Fennel Sausage and the Gnocchi alla’ Argentiera which is fluffy and light and exactly like grandma used to make. Don’t miss the Zeppoli, small, crisp fried donuts. Hey, the restaurant is named after them so they have to be good, right?  Right.