CALDWELL, NJ — Downtown Caldwell will be celebrating its third annual Restaurant Week from Aug. 7 through Aug. 14, featuring many local restaurants on the Bloomfield Avenue strip. As of today, restaurants are still calling in to participate in one of the Caldwell Merchants Association’s (CMA) most successful events of the year.

According to John Lee, Director of CMA and Community Events, this is one of the busiest weeks all year for many of the participating vendors. In fact, this year, CMA Vice-President Michael Guerriero, whose local ice cream shop Gelotti is one of the participating vendors, said he hopes to incorporate more communities like West and North Caldwell in order to highlight the ever-evolving culture of the area and to show residents they don’t have to travel far for good food or a good time.

“People don’t know Caldwell as a restaurant town, that’s how the first Caldwell Restaurant Week started,” said Lee, who also noted that the event began with only two restaurants and grown in leaps and bounds since then. “This year it’s like every time we turn around someone’s jumping on board.”

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The ultimate goal, they said, is to promote Caldwell as a restaurant town and eliminate the misconception that everyone in town goes to the beach for the summer. In fact, Lee said this is one of the reasons Restaurant Week has done so well in the past—because “people are here; there’s just nothing to do.”

He also said that the idea grew out of the perception that Caldwell would never be a “restaurant town” like Montclair. Restaurant week is intended to prove that neither of those statements needs to be true.

“I’m a food writer and it seems to be that the only things that get any attention are the larger restaurants and there’s this weird perception that Montclair’s the only place to go for restaurants outside of New York City,” said Lee, who is determined to not let Caldwell restaurants like Dough and Big Fish Taco fall by the wayside. “The economy is doing fantastic, it’s just that if people don’t know something is there, they’re not as likely to try it. There’s a lot of good stuff in Caldwell, so it’s just about the restaurant community getting together and people discovering what’s in town.”

Lee said there is not a full list of restaurants yet because restaurant owners are still calling in to participate and will likely continue to be added to the list during the week of the event.

“It’s a really neat thing to see local businesses getting charged up about local businesses,” he said.

Throughout the week, several participating restaurants will offer prix fixe menus and specials for residents and non-residents to experience the variety of local flavor. 

Gelotti Ice Cream, for instance, will be offering BOGO on dessert, with a valid receipt from a participating Restaurant, and will also be introducing flavors throughout the week, inspired by neighbors and friends. In addition, Gelotti will provide a French Custard flavor for Asalt and Buttery, a Sangria for Xunta Tapas, and Baileys Irish Cream for Cloverleaf, which are other restaurants participating in the event.

Both Lee and Guerriero said the CMA wants to host more events like this in the fall and winter, like potentially pairing a movie night for adults with dinner by a local restaurant at Caldwell Flower Land. Ideally, Guerriero said, the association would do this once a month with a different restaurant and film each time.

The list of restaurants for Caldwell Restaurant and information on future events will be announced on TAPinto.net as information becomes available.