SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Family, friends, and community members gathered together for a ribbon cutting on Saturday, Feb. 22, for the newest restaurant in South Orange: Trip to the Tropics. 

Billed as “sophisticated comfort food,” the restaurant is being opened by married duo Rafael and Ellais Xiante. The location is 61 Academy St. 

The menu is full of soups, paninis, stuffed crepes, and a wide selection of “Island Shakes” with tropical fruit flavors. Several selections in each category are vegetarian.

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“This is such a great addition to our town!” said Julie Doran, executive director of South Orange Village Center Alliance, welcomed them as new neighbors and business owners. “Not only are they opening up in town, they’re moving up this way,” she said. 

Village President Sheena Collum was excited for her first meal at Trip to the Tropics. “The advance word on this place is fabulous. Everybody’s raving about the food,” she said. She wished the Xiante family success and said she couldn’t wait to celebrate again for the restaurant’s first anniversary.

In addition to the Xiantes' son and daughter, Dimitri and Sofia, and Doran and Collum, other friends in attendance were Bob Zuckerman, Walter Clarke and Donna Collier, all Village Trustees; Melissa Hodge of SOVCA, her daughter, Monet, and her mom, Claudette; Alyssa Aronson; Khizer Naizi; Omar Alston, owner of Zen Pets; Jill and Yang Lee, building owners; and friends Laurence and Gouzalia Okrogly.