Taking my 75-year-old mother to dinner every month has become our way of keeping in touch. It also led me to search for a northern New Jersey restaurant we could make our local. After a few misses—Sonoma Grill and Jamie's—I finally struck gold at Cafe Matisse. Chef Peter Loria likes to put a lot of ingredients on the plate, but he makes it work, especially with seafood dishes. The dining room is tiny, but in spring and summer it opens onto a garden patio. Plus, you can bring your own wine. Dinner only. $90. 167 Park Avenue; 201-935-2995.www.cafematisse.com
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