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Enjoying a Taste of Newton

My wife and I recently had our first baby. Needless to say, we don’t go out as often these days, but on the off chance we do, we generally avoid traveling very far and always search for great cuisine. As Newton residents, the opportunity for a night on the town sampling the local fare appealed to our interests. We are pleased to say A Taste of Newton also satisfied our palates.

In its 17th year, the event is traditionally held on Spring Street each September, but in 2021 it was relocated to a municipal parking lot on Trinity Street. The new location proved to be a good choice as it allowed for ample space to accommodate a sold-out crowd of over 300 people.

Event Chairperson and Vice President of the Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce, Kimberly Williams, informed us that this year’s event theme “From the Garden” was inspired by New Jersey’s reputation as the Garden State. Participating restaurants were encouraged to source produce from Sussex County farms and gardens, and they definitely delivered with local corn, tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients appearing in many dishes.

With the vendors and dining tables all set up, people started filtering their way in at 5:30pm as the band, Captains of Leisure, began to play. Fresh local fare, great live music, a drink tent serving alcohol and refreshments… what more could you ask for on a Monday night? Not a bad way to kick off the week!

Despite having to leave a little early on account of our son reaching his bedtime breaking point, we had a wonderful time—hopefully next year he makes it until 8:30pm! In the meantime, we’ll be placing a visit to all of these great establishments:

The Walpack Inn

North Shore House

Sussex County Community College Culinary Institute

I’m always excited to see what my colleague, Chef Martin Kester, is cooking up with his students of the Culinary program at Sussex County Community College. With a resume that includes Executive Chef at Summit House and chef de cuisine at 90 Acres, he instills world-class technique as was demonstrated by preparing bi-color corn panna cotta with lemon balm. It was light, sweet, and delicious, and I have no idea how they made it. Do you? Maybe we should enroll in a cooking class at the Culinary Institute on Main St. opening soon!

The Circle

The Farmer’s Daughter

Pig Whistle Inn

Pig Whistle Inn is a backyard BBQ joint almost literally in our backyard which we’ve frequented a few times since it’s reopening in 2017. The smoker is always on and their wings are off the charts. I’m pretty sure that’s because of the owner, Michael, whose jovial presence makes you feel right at home whenever you dine with them. Their pulled pork sliders hit the spot tonight.

O’Reilly’s Pub and Grill

O’Reilly’s Pub and Grill has one of the best burgers I’ve had in recent memory. Seriously, go order their house burger and let me know what you think. Tonight, they had pulled pork with cheddar and jalapenos, crispy and delightful while packing a nice punch.

Hayek’s Hometown Market

If you live in Newton, Hayek’s Market is a must. They’ve been around since 1939 and I’m there at least 3 days out of the week. Their homemade dinners are the perfect option on a night you don’t feel like cooking and their store-roasted turkey is so good on a sandwich you might never order Boar’s Head again. Tonight, Chef Aiden and Craig dished us some crab cakes that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Thai Na Khon

Mi Rancho

Newton First Aid Squad

Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream

When I saw Cliff’s was here, I had to refrain from making a beeline to the cart the moment I walked in. I am an absolute ice cream fanati–to the point that it’s an unhealthy obsession. I could write a book about how Cliff’s has impacted my life. While all their ice cream is exceptional, their fall seasonal flavors are their best. I await the annual release of their Dutch Apple Crumb, which actually ranks as my favorite flavor of all time by any ice cream maker. Their Sweet Potato Pie is a close second, which I feverishly consumed tonight after permitting my son a small taste.

The Newton Sports Bar and Kitchen Drink Tent

A much-needed cup of wine for Mama Vitale.

Special thanks to the Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce and all the sponsors who helped make this year’s Taste of Newton possible: ThorLabs, Teyma General Contractor, Up and Above Contractors, Planet Networks, The Newton Sports Bar and Kitchen, Ibranyi Is Floral, Wildflowers With Tami, and, of course, the Town of Newton.

Article and photos by Vincent Vitale

September 2021

The lucky guy who gets to eat the stuff his hot GF cooks.