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

“Come out, come out wherever you are!” were Glinda’s famous words 81 years ago, and they’ve never been more applicable to New Jersey now. People have lots of reasons to come out in June; not only is it Pride Month but also we now can enjoy a date night in an actual restaurant, though it’s outdoors only for a few more days.

Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night that’ll get you out and about, in the safest and tastiest way possible!

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A Little Meal, A Little Song

Sometimes a date night requires a side of entertainment to accompany a fantastic meal and The Carriage House Bistro and Bar is on the ready to deliver just that! Located at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, this outdoor dining experience combines a two-course prix fix meal with the cabaret stylings of Joe Regan on Saturdays through July 11. 

Your date night will include some great entrée choices including Canadian salmon served with farro pilaf and roasted butternut squash, or boneless pork ribs with blood orange barbecue sauce, mashed potatoes and low country slaw. If you prefer to order some nibbly bits from the bar, the Tall Top Menu is impressive with choices including bacon-wrapped beef short ribs with Creole mustard and the antipasto plate with Italian prosciutto, sweet soppressata, Roman artichokes and cheeses.

For more information on The Carriage House Bistro and Bar, visit

Perfect Prix Fix

Cafe Matisse in Rutherford is an ideal choice for dining under the stars in a beautiful garden setting. 

Chef/Owner Peter Loria has created a 4-course prix fixe menu perfect for the season. Choices for your first course include fried artichoke wrapped in speck and spicy panko-crusted crab cake with cheddar-glazed shrimp.

You and your date will love the desserts like strawberry vanilla cheesecake with strawberry marmalade, malt anglaise, strawberry vanilla jus and a dollop of white chocolate crème or chocolate brownie with orange marscapone crème, espresso chocolate crème, orange honey vanilla jus and a caramelized banana.

For more information on Cafe Matisse, visit

A Slice with a View

Nothing says date night quite like an expertly prepared pizza, and Old Glory serves up both pie and sky.  Located in Keyport, their 900-degree rotating brick oven makes amazing pizzas. There are also delicious wings, steaks and other delights on their menu. 

When it comes to pizza, you and your date can choose from their signature crust using Caputo OO Flour or you may choose their gluten-free crust. Some of the pie choices include the Spicy Joey (with sausage, cherry peppers, caramelized onions, cherry tomato, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and the Spicy Hawaiian (with grilled pineapple, Jersey-style pork roll, cherry peppers, tomato sauce and mozzarella).

For more information on Old Glory, visit

A Hole in One

An outdoor view of a golf course can’t be beat and The Tavern at Ashbrook offers the perfect mix of outdoor ambiance and amazing food.  You can’t go wrong choosing one of their classic burgers or sandwiches like the meatloaf sliders with tomato-onion jam. 

If you’re craving more of a family-style service, you’ll love their choices of main courses including beef brisket with cracked pepper crust and mustard barbecue sauce, or the peach bourbon shrimp. Be sure to check out their cocktail menu featuring peach bourbon tea, stateside mule and both red and white sangrias.

For more information about The Tavern at Ashbrook, visit

Coming Out

One of the things that made The Wizard of Oz a cinematographic wonder was how it started in black and white and the “new” technology of color film was introduced to viewers when Dorothy landed in Oz.  If you think about how cool that was to a 1939 movie audience, you’ll agree that being able to dine in a restaurant after three months of not is right up there on the excitement scale. The shocking burst of color on the screen is similar to the feeling of the freedom of enjoying a date night that includes a chef and a waitstaff.

Dorothy was probably a little trepidatious stepping into a colorful new world just like we are when we decide to venture out for a date night in a public place. It worked out pretty well for Dorothy and it will for us too when the restaurants are complying with the necessary safety standards. 

We simply can’t be afraid to move forward. There’s no room for fear in being single, no need for uneasiness in relationships and no reason for timidity in progressing from one phase of reopening to the next.

You heard Glinda …. time to come out!

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:

Come to My Window (For Ice Cream)

Chicken Restaurants That Sizzle

New Jersey Date Night: Virtual Experiences Bring the World to You

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