New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.

Enjoying a dinner for two al fresco is a summertime must for New Jersey couples — great food, a little candlelight and the only thing close to a ceiling has a 747 in the distance.

Taking full advantage of everything Jersey has to offer this season will keep you both warm with memories before we slowly make our way to autumn.

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Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night that will leave you seeing stars!

Where Paris Meets Paradise

Imagine you and your date enjoying excellent French-inspired food while listening to the sound of the waves hit the beach … and not suffering through a seven-hour flight to St. Tropez? Avenue in Long Branch is on the ready to serve up a date night that will make you think your passport was just stamped. 

Executive Chef Josh Sauer expertly crafts signature dishes including grilled Portuguese octopus with confit fingerlings, roasted tomatoes, pickled pearl onions, corn puree and chile de arbol gelée. Or try the Boeuf Bourguignon with fresh pappardelle, red wine sauce, braised beef, fresh veggies and bacon.  A salt-crusted branzino serves two with fresh summer vegetables, sauce vierge and fennel pollen.

When it comes to your beverages, General Manager and Beverage Director Thierry Carrier has crafted a stellar line-up of seasonal cocktails and a killer wine list. Check out the Peach Passion, made with 360 Georgia Peach vodka, champagne, white peach puree and passion fruit, or the Blue Velvet crafted with Stoli Blueberi, fresh lime juice, mint leaves and muddled blueberries.

For more information on Avenue, visit their website at

East Coast Cowabunga

When the surf’s up, the sun’s setting and the frozen pina colada machine is humming, you might think you’re in Key West at this Jersey City spot. Surf City is a Garden State gem perfect for a coastal casual evening.

With incredible views of Liberty Island and Manhattan, you’ll find a laid-back tasty menu to match the ambiance.  There are options perfect for two including the drunken shrimp boil (peel-and-eat shrimp cooked in a boil of beer, herbs and spices and served cold with lemon and cocktail sauce) and the crispy calamari (hand-breaded and tossed with cherry peppers served with a spicy marinara sauce). 

Consider the twin lobster rolls — two poached Maine lobster rolls with celery, red onion and herb aioli on toasted potato rolls served with coleslaw and French fries.  Save room for desert because the key lime pie is a must.

For more information about Surf City, visit their website at

The Brick Wall You Want to Hit

If you like your open sky evening served with a side of an expertly prepared meal, the Brickwall Tavern in Burlington City* has the perfect date night for you. Their regular menu will hit the spot with favorites including southern-fried catfish and the pork chop served with grain mustard au jus.  Their Sidebar Summer Cookout Series, featuring grilled clams and mussels, barbequed ribs and shish kebabs, might just tempt you, too.

When you get thirsty, they’ve got you covered with their craft cans including Oskar Blues Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water and 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon.  Their award-winning specialty cocktails are not to be missed, with favorites including The Northern Gentleman (Hudson Bay Bourbon, Cointreau, lemon juice and lemon-lime soda) and The Reverse Manhattan (Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, Bullett Rye and Angostura Bitters).

For more information on Brickwall Tavern, visit

Over the Fire and Onto the Plate

When it comes to iconic American dinners you really can’t go wrong with something off the barbeque. Surf BBQ in Rumson is the textbook example of grilled perfection. Chef Michael Carco and Pit master Sean Connolly together have created a menu reflective of the past and future of the American cuisine. 

Surf BBQ features counter-style service and communal seating. Meats including brisket and pork shoulder are sold by the half-pound and served with cornbread and pickles.  Other menu options include Oaxaca Chicken (half a smoked chicken served with salsa verde, pickled onion and green salad) and Surf Frites (8-ounce flatiron steak served with roasted red peppers, herb compound butter and fries). 

With sides like mac and cheese, fire-roasted baked beans and Swine Fries (hand-cut French fries served with pulled pork, cheddar cheese and cilantro ranch) choosing just one would mean missing out.

For more information on Surf BBQ, visit

The Only Way is Up

Sharing a meal with your love under the stars is romantic, but it also reminds us that as a dynamic duo there’s really no stopping you. Taking an evening to stargaze and eye gaze with your partner is a great way to tap into the power of two — an invincible energy that couples need to remember and to foster.  John Legend sang it best: “Let's raise a toast to all the good days to come. Let's save a kiss for us and the night is done.”

Your date night might be done, but as a couple you’re just getting started!

*Location corrected from an earlier version of this story.

Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of “The 49th Challenge,” Rogers has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about him, visit

What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date?  Tell Craig all about it at


More Date Night Ideas:

A Revolutionary Morristown Pub Crawl

Asbury Park is the Shore Thing

Getting Fresh at the Farmer’s Market

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