JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – When you think of Jackson Township, you normally think of pizza, Chinese food and fast food. Over the past few years, that stereotype is slowly shifting as the township now has several restaurants that could be considered, “local fine-dining”. Most of these businesses have been hit hard by the extended COVID-19 regulations being enforced against restaurants and indoor dining, but if you’re planning on going out to dinner on a beautiful fall weekend with the choice of going indoors or outdoors, here are three recommendations. We have visited and checked each restaurant and each one is complying with the state’s guidelines on health and safety during the pandemic, including spacing of tables, enforcing mask-wearing while not seated and using best practices when it comes to menus, food handling and food serving.
These three restaurants define the present and future of dining in Jackson when ordering a pizza or Chinese food just isn’t going to do it and you don’t want to drive to far for an upscale dining experience. Each is unique in its own right. One is an Asian-American fusion, the other is a straight up steak house and the third is a traditional Italian family restaurant.
Cornerstone Kitchen and Tap – Cornerstone Kitchen and Tap is part outdoor bar and part healthy, locally sourced indoor fine dining. They offer a huge selection of craft beers. In fact, many people travel far and wide for their craft beer selection, but beyond that, they offer a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere that instantly transports you to a chic downtown eatery found in many small cities. CKT, though it has bar service is extremely family friendly and the menu is full of clean, healthy and fresh selections. The menu says American, but there’s a slight Asian fusion in many of the dishes served at CKT. CKT now has a full sushi and sashimi menu that includes hand crafted culinary raw fish delights to teriyaki and tempura dishes. Owner Angel Hatch prides herself and her restaurant for the high quality ingredients used in every dish served at CKT.
Whether you want to go out for a night of burger and fries, an asian fusion inspired meal or a traditional American style meal, there’s something for everyone on the menu. There’s also a few things you’re not going to find elsewhere in Jackson including pork belly and chicken ramen bowls, chicken and waffles and one of our favorites, Apple Hoison Salmon. Compliment your dinner with a full bar menu that includes wine by the bottle, sweet seasonal mixed drinks, sangria and specialty cocktails and your evening out is complete. Did we mention a huge selection of craft beers?
The Edge – The Edge is finally here after years of delays, followed by the COVID-19 shut down which could have put any new business startup out business before the doors opened, but owners Phil and Louise Cornick have persevered and made it to the other side. Now, their dream restaurant is open to all. It’s an upscale take on a modern saloon. While their great food is a good enough draw, the Edge has a huge selection of drinks from their bar. Guests at the Edge have three choices now, outdoor dining, indoor dining or a full bar menu at the bar.
The Edge’s menu can be defined simply as upscale steakhouse, Jersey Shore style. The menu includes burgers, roasted chicken, pork chops, ribs and a choice of four delicious cuts of steak including filet minon, New York strip, Delmonico rib eye and dry aged rib eye steak.
Brunch is served at the Edge with a full service menu of waffles, pancakes, burgers, eggs, pastries…and oh ya…mimosas, bloody marys and more. The bar menu at the Edge is huge…and by huge, we mean HUUUGE. There’s apparently nothing the bartenders at the Edge can’t make, we soon found out. The full bar menue has 9 full pages of mixed drinks, beer, wine and hard liquors to choose from.
Solo Bella – Solo Bella is the longest running of our three choices here in Jackson. While to many Solo Bella is known for having perhaps Jackson’s only wood fired pizza oven, it offers a great selection of traditional Italian menu favorites that are served with huge portions that you’ll end up taking home. Inside Sola Bella, you feel like you’re at the perfect Italian family getaway with the earthtone walls draped in burgandy accents, soft lighting and candle lit tables. The restaurant is billed as a “Southern Italian Bistro” and delivers with the food and the decor. Daily specials also await you at Solo Bella, but be warned ahead of time, it’s BYOB. Sola Bella does not offer bar service.
The entire menu consists of traditional Italian entrees kicked up a notch in taste and size. In all the years we’ve been going to Solo Bella, I can’t remember ever having a bad meal or bad experience, nothing even close. While many love Solo Bella’s wood fired pizza menu that includes off-the-beaten path options like clam pies, shrimp pies, and a delicious spinich artichoke pie. Pies can be described as a mix between Neapolitan and traditional New York/New Jersey pizzas or as Dave Portnoy says, fancy pizza.
There’s nothing in particular that stands out on Solo Bella’s menu, which has a large selection of traditional Italian dishes, but each one is as delicious as the next. You really can’ go wrong with anything on the menu at Solo Bella.
So there we have three of our top choices for fine dining here in Jackson Township. There are a couple of runners up that are worth mentioning if you’re looking from some scaled down options.
Wok and Roll – Asian Fusion – Rock and Roll is Asian fusion with traditional Chinese style options but kicked up a bit with taste and elegance.
Koto – Koto is a traditional Japanese sushi and hibachi restaurant with three large hibachi tables, a sushi bar and seating.
Kalamata – Opened just before the pandemic began, Kalamata is a place you shouldn’t miss, but more, you shouldn’t be afraid to go there. I’ve been there twice now and the the food is superb. Personal pizzas, dinners and more on their huge menu. Kalamata is 100% Kosher so if you’re open to expanding your palate in ways you haven’t yet experienced, give it a shot.