Summer Fun In Westwood

I love the warm weather just as much as I love visiting Westwood! In this charming borough abutting the bustling NJ Transit Train Station, you can shop for that fabulous outfit, find the perfect piece of jewelry, and indulge at eclectic restaurants and shops. Follow me as I take you through the hub of the Pascack Valley!

A visit to this great borough demands a stop at their landmark restaurant, The Iron Horse {20 Washington Avenue, Westwood;; 201.666.9682}. Situated at the railroad crossing upon entering the heart of town, this bar and kid-friendly cozy haunt has been in business for almost 50 years. It touts itself as home to Bergen County’s best burger, and I can attest. The Original Stuffed Cheeseburger is filled with your choice of gooey American, cheddar, mozzarella, bleu or Swiss cheese and served with their famous railroad fries or thick, golden onion rings. (If you’re a nibbler like me, it may take you two bites to uncover that lava-like cheesy goodness inside.) Speaking of, the French Onion soup is another must-try if you’re in the mood for some good old-fashioned comfort food. Coming with friends to spectate the World Series at the bar? Order a plate of their famed buffalo chicken wings! From garlic parmigiana to sweet chili and barbecue, these classic bar eats are best enjoyed with an icy cold beer or pitcher of Ed Hardy Artisan Sangria. Be sure to check their website for information on Oktoberfest, which is celebrated here annually.

Anyone who knows me knows my love of upscale dining. But I also like to kick back at more casual spots when in the mood, and PJ Finnegan’s {274 Fairview Avenue, Westwood;; 201.664.7576} is one of them. Westwood is a melting pot of culture, and they’re well-known for their Irish population. With the orange, white and green flag hoisted high above this brick-and-mortar pub, PJ’s is easy to find. Upon entry, I feel like I’m transported to downtown Dublin. You can have a seat at their comfy bar before a wall of memorabilia and choose from a vast selection of Irish beers. Or, have a seat inside their casual dining room — you’re in for some epic Irish fare! My favorite dishes are the (seasonal) Shepherd’s Pie and the Guinness Bacon Burger. Served on an English muffin, this char-grilled Angus beef burger is topped with Guinness-cheddar spread and bacon. They also make a mean hot corned beef sandwich. For dinner, we recommend a plate of their pulled pork sliders before sinking teeth into their Dublin Steak Sandwich served with a mushroom peppercorn sauce and crispy mashed potatoes.

In the mood for Mexican? Lolita’s Mexican Cantina {65 Old Hook Road;; 201.666.7998} offers not only endless options of authentic Mexican fare, but a fun night out. I love the high energy, colorful wall art, exceptional service, and of course, the spicy street food staples. Whether going on a weekend with friends or spicing up a dull Tuesday night with a Taco and Tequila Tuesday, the taco salad and paella varieties are my go-to entrées.

Speaking of a melting pot of flavor, for palates hankering for American with an Asian twist, Kimchi Smoke Barbecue {301 Center Avenue;; 201.497.6333} is a hot, hot, hot choice. Award-winning chef and owner Robert A. Cho, who appeared on “Beat Bobby Flay,” fuses Texas-style BBQ with Korean flavors and ingredients. Finger-licking favorites at this counter-serve eatery include the brisket, cholander fries loaded with kimchi, pulled pork, and cheddar cheese.

For those seeking the dietetic appeal of modern Mediterranean cuisine, bring your appetites to Mezza {20 Jefferson Avenue; 201.722.8822;}. This hip BYOB with candlelit tables and sidewalk seating serves all the best Mediterranean food your stomach can handle. I can’t get enough of their made-to-order hummus, tahini, baba ghanoush, and the ricotta fritter tree.

If you’re in search of a good cut of meat for cooking dinner, or looking to dine in, Westwood Prime Meats {190 Westwood Avenue;; 201.664.0069} has got your carnivorous needs covered. At this famed butcher shop, customers will be wowed by the renowned Petruso family’s expansive knowledge about meats and how to prepare them. Salvatore Petruso has served as the butcher for over 35 years. He began his foray into the culinary world as a youth working as an apprentice butcher at Jefferson Market delivering meats to James Beard at the Greenwich Village townhouse before landing at Westwood Prime Meats. Dining in? Have a seat at Westwood Prime Eats next door. At this two-year-old Manhattan-style eatery, feast on burgers, crispy tempura pickle spears with chili mayo, truffle fries, and so much more — made to order. The service is excellent and the food is outstanding. Don’t forget to BYOB!

Food is the proverbial way to a man’s heart, but to a woman’s? A trip to H❤RTLY Fashions {104 Westwood Avenue; 201.664.3111;} for a well-deserved shopping spree! Hartley Fashions is not just a clothing store. It’s one of the Garden State’s top one-stop fashion destinations catering to women of all types. Whether you’re a girlie-girl looking to shine in that floral blouse, a free-spirit valuing bohemian chic, or you enjoy letting your hair down in a concert tee, there are unique styles to suit every lady — and handbags to boot! Need a little help primping? Get styled with one-on-one service from head to toe (think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.)

Accessorize your new wardrobe with a sparkler or statement necklace from LaViano Jewelers {175 Westwood Avenue;; 201.664.0616}. This family-owned business is known for its one-of-a-kind, custom-made pieces. Friendly and knowledgeable sales associates can assist in helping you find a special gift for you or your special someone. At LaViano, two things keep me coming back: quality and fair pricing.

I’ve shopped, but before I drop, it’s time to recharge and refresh with some sweet stuff. For three generations, Conrad’s Confectionary {107 Westwood Ave; 201.664.2895;} has put smiles on customers’ faces with a tempting selection of homemade ice cream and candy. The aisles of this snug, family-owned business are dizzying with drool-worthy candies evincing a distinct passion for quality chocolate. With every jingling of the bell upon entry, I’m filled with nostalgia sitting at the old-fashioned ice cream soda fountain counter with my siblings swirling around on stools in between sips of that frothy goodness. These days, I can’t leave without a handful of dark chocolate pecan turtles. They’re to die for!

As part of my job, I love taking pictures and posting them on my Instagram page. To all my fellow snappers, you’ll love browsing Bergen County Camera {270 Westwood Avenue; 201.664.4113} for all your photography needs. For more than 40 years, Bergen County Camera is one of the last camera stores in the region comprising a staff of experienced photographers who will guide you through your purchases with their expertise, whatever your level. Whether you’re a pro seeking the latest line of high-tech cameras and photography equipment or an amateur in search of their first digital camera, you’re sure to capture a great find here. High quality online printing services are also available.

Thanks for hanging with me! I want to hear about your fun times in Westwood too! If there’s a great spot you’d like me to check out, tag me on Instagram @lindaslist_ and follow @diningoutnj. Ciao for now!