After what seemed like the longest winter in Bergen County history, it’s finally warm. Is it just me, or do you all want to be outside 24/7 too?  My perfect evening includes great weather, wine, food, friends and outdoor dining in Bergen County.

Do you that the phrase “al fresco” is borrowed from the Italians? Meaning “in cool air,” it truly is the best way to dine during the spring and summer months. Today, Italians refer to dining outside by using the phrases “fuori” (out) and “all’aperto” (in the open).

As for me, I’ll refer to it as eating or dining outside, but never “al fresco” because that expression usually refers to spending time in jail… no “al fresco” for me, thank you.

Let’s go “mangiare” (eat) and “bevande vino” (drink wine)!

Le Jardin Restaurant, 1257 River Road, Edgewater

There’s no better way to spend a nice evening than dining outside at Le Jardin with the perfect view of the George Washington Bridge as your backdrop. Let’s start with a bottle of bubbly and a couple of appetizers while soaking in the view. Then, I’ll order my favorite entrée: Salmon Le Jardin. Of course, I’ll have an Averna or two for dessert.

I recommend checking their website, www.lejardinnj.com, for their upcoming events, such as lobster night, and their sunset menu.

Andiamo Restaurant, 23 Hardenburgh Ave., Haworth

In keeping with the Italian expressions, here’s a little story for you. Growing up when someone in my family had a food craving, we would say, “I have a voglia.” Mine was usually for eggplant. I love grilled eggplant with marinara sauce – simply delish!

Speaking of yummy Italian food, “andiamo” (let’s go) to Andiamo in Haworth.  It is always quaint and cozy when I dine outdoors there. I’ll have a bottle of white and the shrimp avocado bowl to start, please. This restaurant just feels like home to me, so I’ll have a classic: pasta with garlic and olive oil, such a simple dish that is so good. Eating this dish always brings back memories of my father. On every holiday, after hours of feasting, my father would say, “Mar (short for Maria), how about a little pasta aglia e olio?” I have no idea how he stayed so slim, because he loved his pasta.

MK Valencia Restaurant & Lounge, 228 Main St., Ridgefield Park

Just when I think my life cannot get any better, I realize I have a dental gang reunion planned at MK Valencia Restaurant & Lounge. The gang is all here, so we eat, drink and get very merry.

I begin my night with blue point oysters and a glass of white – wow, this is good. The sesame-crusted tuna with couscous, fava beans and sundried tomatoes with a citrus miso glaze is definitely one of my favorites here.

Varka Estiatorio, 30 N. Spruce St., Ramsey

On the menu today is patio dining at Varka Estiatorio in Ramsey. Opa, we’ll have the Greek spreads, charcoal grilled octopus and a bottle of white to start. When I was in Greece, my girlfriend Beth and I based our restaurant selection on who had the cutest host – shallow, but true story. Lucky for us, we had exceptional meals.

Oh well, let’s get back to the fabulous meal at this buzzing Greek seafood eatery. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love salmon, and Varka’s grilled organic salmon with extra virgin olive oil and herbs is amazing.

For all the single ladies out there: Thursday night seems to be a bustling night.

Sofia, 36 Engle St., Englewood

It’s “Sunday Funday,” which means I’m off to brunch at Sofia in Englewood. I just love to sit at a high top with the open doors and people watch. The $5 brunch prices per bellini, mimosa, Bloody Mary and sangria don’t hurt either!

A couple of mimosas and the autumn salad for me sans pecorino hits the spot. My friend, of course, has no food allergies so she happily indulges in the lobster benedict. We both agreed the food was fantastic and the prices were reasonable.

It was my first time brunching here, and I definitely loved it. If you are like my girlfriends and me and are always searching for a place to go with music, Sofia has a DJ on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Don’t be surprised if you run into me there!

Hearth & Tap, Co., 125 N. Kinderkamack Road, Montvale

OK, now it’s time for a walk, a nap and dinner at Hearth & Tap, Co. in Montvale. It’s a comfort food kind of night, and I’m sure in the right place – it has a great rustic, cozy atmosphere. It’s surely a very unique pub, and I like it.

What a great menu, and I love that they use local farms! The chargrilled baby Spanish octopus and the olive oil roasted king salmon were over the top yummy. Thanks for the unforgettable food and service; I’ll definitely be back.

Thank you for dining with me. I’ll reserve a seat for you next time. Ciao for now.

By Linda Barba

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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