The Highland Park restaurant scene is worth celebrating on New Year’s Eve and every other eve of the year. Even though Highland Park is a small suburban community (1.8 square miles and a population of fewer than 14,000 people), it is no sleepy little restaurant town. More than 50 restaurants feature foods from all over the world at prices not out of this world with ambience to suit all moods and tastes. The town has particularly appetizing entertainment and cuisine venues that have thrived this year and are finishing off the year with special New Year’s Eve parties.
1- Thanks to renowned jazz pianist John Bianculli and his connections with critically acclaimed jazz artists throughout the tri-state region, there is a world-class jazz music venue at the Italian Bistro several nights a week all year long in Highland Park. New Year’s Eve will feature Donna Harris and Ken Richards and a special four-course meal. (441 Raritan Avenue, 732-640-1959).
2- Pino’s Lounge has transformed the social scene in town. Pino’s , the Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar, in 2015 added Pino’s Lounge – with a bar, special events, live music, and a BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) option in partnership with other take-out eateries in town. Seven days a week, Pino’s Lounge features cocktails, wine and beer, plus special activities. For example, Martini Specials are every Monday; Trivia, every Tuesday; wine-tasting specials on Wednesdays; and every Sunday is Sunday BYOF Supper in the Lounge with half off all wine by the glass. On New Year’s Eve, the Lounge is having a party with nosh foods, champagne, and the live music of El Noordzo. (13 North Fourth Avenue, 732-247-5421).
3- Tete’s, known for its Peruvian and international cuisine, is also the place to be on Thursday nights for salsa bands and Saturday nights for karaoke. On New Year’s Eve, Tete’s will feature a D.J. and a live salsa band. (247 Raritan Avenue 732-246-1502).
4- The newest kid on the entertainment/cuisine block is Bridge Turkish and Mediterranean Grill, that is hosting “New Year’s on the Bosphoros,” with dancing by the “amazing and alluring” Scarlet, plus a DJ. (315 Raritan Avenue, 732-418-9000).
5-Pithari Taverna, authentic Greek Cuisine, is the favorite among Highland Park families for a home New Year’s Eve celebration away from home, where all generations are celebrated and celebrating together. BYOB and toast with milk and cookies or wine and cheese by “Eating Greek and Living Long.” (28 Woodbridge Avenue, 732-572-0616).