As each New Jersey summer comes to a close, one sure thing that takes away the sting from saying goodbye to hot, sunshine-filled days is attending a San Gennaro Festival. This celebration, lasting 11 days in Manhattan and with smaller-scaled celebrations in our state, is a food-fest of Italian flavor. Peppers and sausage and zeppolis reign supreme with their tempting aromas in the air.

With many festivals canceled this year due to the pandemic, we’re re-imagining a feast you can enjoy at home, where you can enjoy the Italian flavors you crave in a different and more homespun manner. 

Get ready for a do-it-yourself New Jersey Date Night where everything is spettacolare!

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Recipes for Success

Uncle Giuseppe’s in Ramsey is an experience from the moment you walk into the door. Featuring the best of imported Italian delicacies ranging from chocolates to pasta, you and your date are sure to find every ingredient needed to make your San Gennaro Feast squisito.

Their prepared dishes are certainly a great way to go. However, if you want to get busy in the kitchen, the Uncle Giuseppe’s website is your culinary new best friend!  Simply click on “Recipes” and a plethora of tasty dishes appear. With choices ranging from chicken francese to Tuscan bolognese, you’re sure to be cooking well after the holiday.

For more information about Uncle Giuseppe’s, visit

Date Night for Two or 20

Sometimes the best dates can actually involve more than just two lovebirds, and inviting the entire flock is super easy thanks to Tuscany Specialty Foods. With locations in Marlboro and Manalapan, you’ll find a complete source for all things Italian. If taking it easy is your style, choosing your menu from their catering department is both tasty and quite reasonable in price. 

Starting your feast with a classic Italian antipasto plate is always best. Main dishes include veal saltimbocca (thinly sliced veal, pan-seared and topped with prosciutto and sautéed spinach in a sage and shallot butter sauce) and anelletti al forno (pasta in a beef ragu with peas and fried eggplant, topped with fresh mozzarella). End your gathering with a plate of cannoli and a good time is guaranteed for all.

For more information about Tuscany Specialty Foods, visit

Pie in the Sky Happy

Enjoying a slice of pizza is a great way to celebrate San Gennaro, and you’re sure to want seconds and thirds when the pie is from D’Angelo’s Market. Located in Princeton, D’Angelo’s Market offers a full grocery experience of Italian favorites and provides options for catering.

One standout you and your date will discover is the greatness that comes from their stone oven. There are so many pies from which to choose including classics like margherita and the quattro stagioni (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms and artichokes). Trying one of their specialties is definitely in order, including the D’Angelo (mozzarella, grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil pesto, shaved parmigiana) and the Patatosa (tomato sauce, mozzarella and French fries). 

You and your date won’t want to skip dessert, be it classic tiramusu or D’Angelo’s signature sweet risotto (Italian-style rice pudding with arborio rice, dusted with cinnamon).

For more information about D’Angelo’s Market, visit

Little Pockets of Flavor

Perrotti’s Quality Meats in Cranford is the place to visit for Italian products and ingredients to prepare your San Gennaro feast. From meats and cheeses to Italian breads, you’ll find everything you need. And if it’s ravioli you’re craving, you’ve hit the lottery! Classic favorites like five cheese and porcini mushroom are ready to take home to your pot, but you might want to try a few of their other raviolis like lobster ravioli and crab ravioli. 

If you and your date want to keep it meatless, you can’t go wrong with ravioli varieties like spinach, eggplant, and garlic and basil. Considering that Autumn is upon us, be sure to try the pumpkin ravioli, too! As for the perfect sauce, be sure to check out their homemade sauces, including vodka, marinara and bolognese.

For more information about Perrotti’s Quality Meats, visit

The Best Laid Plans

Perhaps the biggest 2020 takeaway for singles and couples alike is that re-imagination is sometimes a necessary activity. Half a year of cancellations and quarantine has made us realize that things may not look the same, but it sure doesn’t mean that things can’t happen. Weddings have been augmented to promote social distancing and holidays have been transformed to seeing our loved ones in Zoom calls. Couples know that everyday scenarios may not resemble what’s in their head, but just because it looks different doesn’t mean it isn’t any less important or beautiful.

New Jersey couples know that there’s a choice to be made when the best laid plans go awry — you can wallow in the grief and pain or you can reconstruct your own promised joy.  Creating perfection in an imperfect world is what relationships are all about.

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

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


More Date Night Ideas:

These Spots Pour it on with Flights

Make it a Breakfast Date, Al Fresco

Life’s a Beach in Avalon

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