Bring your own bottles (BYOBs). Notice I made that plural because my motto is “never leave home with just one.”

We are so fortunate to live in Bergen County where we have some pretty great restaurants that we can bring our favorite wines or, in my case, my favorite wine and dessert – Amaro Averna.

I remember when… Oh no, not an “I remember when story.” When I was younger and my parents would tell an “I remember when story,” I remember pretending to listen but what I was really thinking was, “I swear I will never subject anyone to my stories.” I promise you, this will be a brief recollection.

Anyway, I remember when I first started writing. My initial topic was my very first BYOB restaurant – Sanducci’s Trattoria – that I went to back in the early ‘90s. Sanducci’s Trattoria, 620 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge, is still around. It has different owners and is in a new location, but the food is still great and I love eating out on the patio this time of year.

I remember the first time I went to Sanducci’s – a meal I often refer to as “the last supper.” I had gone with a date, a boring date. While it was our first and last meeting, it wasn’t my last time at Sanducci’s due to the spot on service and food.

Let’s get back to the present. I was at Sanducci’s, again on a date again. We enjoyed the chicken country-style, tri-colored salad and shrimp marinara with linguine. Wow, was that delicious! That date was keeper. He brought along one of my very favorite red wines (Gattinara D.O.C.G. Riserva) and, of course, a bottle of Amaro Averna. Remember my motto? Never leave home without a bottle or two when BYOBing.

Another reason why we are so lucky living in Bergen County is that we have so many different ethnic restaurants to choose from. For girls’ night out, we head to La’Mezza, 63 Nathaniel Place, Englewood, for some fabulous Lebanese-Mediterranean fusion fare. I just love their décor. It’s subtle with a pinch of exotic. We typically start with hummus, baba ganoush and the chilled jumbo shrimp in the avocado shell. My choice for entrée was the grilled salmon, my favorite fish.

The food and service was 100 percent and pair that with six women and 12 bottles of wine and I would say that’s a recipe for a fabulous evening, wouldn’t you? What an amazing night. Thank you, Uber, for getting us home safely. I’ll be back and next time I’m definitely having the cilantro shrimp. I swear, I must be the only person who absolutely loves cilantro.

On another night, my cellphone rings. I answer and a spontaneous date is planned. We meet at Saddle River Inn, 2 Barnstable Court, Saddle River.

Yikes, here it comes – another “remember when” story! I remember when Saddle River Inn, a long time area favorite, opened in 1981 under husband and wife ownership featuring fine dining, contemporary French restaurant. It’s interesting that the barn was built in 1791. There, that was a brief “remember when.”

Jamie Knott, the chef and co-owner, has restored the barn to an elegant, cozy and romantic restaurant. For a “spontaneous” date, we enjoyed tuna carpaccio and the baby beets for starters. The Arctic char for me; the Barnegat Light Sound sea scallops and a side of gruyere potato purée for him. A nicely chilled bottle of Duckhorn Chardonnay complimented our amazing meal. Now, that was definitely a keeper! Yes, the restaurant and the date. While we didn’t indulge that time, I cannot mention the Saddle River Inn without telling you about the olive cake. I also must extend a big thank you to the chef for modifying my meal to accommodate my dietary restrictions. A future trip to their other restaurant in Hoboken is on my  “must go” list. Stay tuned.

Before I know it, it’s time for my monthly date with my handsome eligible cousin. We went to Sushi Cruise, 725 River Road, Edgewater. It was a beautiful night to sit outside on the Hudson River. He brought the wine since he has his own taste in wines and I drink anything that’s good. The restaurant is in a strip mall; however, when you walk in, you are delightfully surprised by the amazing view of Manhattan. The sushi is always delicious and the service is fantastic – a must try for sushi lovers.

There you have it, my favorite BYOBs. I hope you enjoyed my fun times BYOBing throughout Bergen County. I would love to hear your favorite BYOB locations. Email me at linda@bcthemag.com.

Ciao, ma3 el saleme, au revoir and sayonara to all my Linda’s List readers. Thanks for coming along. See you soon…

Linda Barba is out and about every day of the week! Have something cool for her to check out? Just let us know! Email info@bcthemag.com with “Linda’s List” as the subject. Also, check out her daily postings at facebook.com/bcthemag.

 

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