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A Romantic Date in Newark

It’s a big day for you and your honey – a birthday, an anniversary, or maybe you’re planning to pop the question. Whether you want to make it a formal occasion, with flowers and a candlelight dinner, or take a more casual approach with tapas and dirty martinis, you can plan the perfect date in Newark. Here are some can’t-miss places for romance.

For Portuguese food in an intimate setting, try Adega Grill (130 Ferry Street) Share a paella or go all out with the 

Parilhada de Marisco (para dois), described on the menu as “a presentation for two of whole lobster, lobster tails, prawns, jumbo shrimp, king crab legs, clams, New Zealand mussels and scallops, served with crisp Spanish style potatoes and saffron rice.”

Adega means “wine cellar” in Portuguese. With stone fireplaces and lots of candles, the two dining rooms even have nooks for privacy.

Ice cream

If a wine cellar isn’t your idea of romance, how about a bank?  The Hotel Indigo Newark Downtown (810 Broad Street) is  housed in the former National State Bank, built in 1912, and there are elements of the original design throughout.

The hotel’s restaurant, Alva Tavern features traditional bistro fare and handcrafted cocktails. The walls are exposed brick, pizzettes are baked in the original bank vault and the dinner menu offers charcuterie plates, roasted chicken and steaks. For warmer-weather romance, head on up to the Indigo’s rooftop lounge, Skylab, and enjoy the twinkling city lights of Newark and Manhattan with your cocktails.


Romance can be grand and dramatic, like NJPAC’s elegant restaurant, Nico Kitchen + Bar (1 Center Street). Nico specializes in shared plates, such as grilled octopus and crab cake sliders – perfect for two.

For a really special evening, attend a performance and make reservations to dine here beforehand. There’s a three-course prix fixe menu available on performance nights only, featuring a selection of appetizers, entrees and house-made desserts. 

The atmosphere is at once theatrical and intimate, with soaring ceilings, bold art and showy chandeliers mixed with soft hues and candles.

You may not be thinking of the great outdoors at this time of year, but Branch Brook Park, with its lush landscaping and the ornate spires of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart as a backdrop, is lovely in all seasons.

In April, when more than 4,000 cherry trees blossom in pink and white, it becomes undoubtedly the most romantic place in Newark. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival attracts tourists from around the world.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the festival, which starts on April 9 with the Cherry Blossom Challenge Bike Race and concludes on April 24 with Bloomfest.


The Ironbound is a perfect place to stroll hand-in-hand, window-shop and people-watch.  When you need a break from the crowds, stop in at Mompou Tapas Wine Bar & Lounge (77 Ferry Street). There’s an extensive wine list, craft beers on tap, and creative cocktails. The innovative tapas menu features modern takes on culinary classics, including codfish croquettes and savory, stuffed piquillo peppers. The dining room may be a bit noisy for a tete-a-tete, but the windows open onto the streetscape, and there’s a hidden garden patio available in the warmer months.


New Orleans is one of the sexiest places in the world. But if your budget doesn’t include a flight from Newark Liberty to the Big Easy, never fear: Jazz and jambalaya are both on the menu at Duke’s Southern Table (11 Clinton Street).

Newark restaurateur Vonda McPherson serves Southern cuisine with a twist, including fried green tomato B.L.T. sliders and blueberry BBQ spare ribs. Sunday brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for those who don’t want the weekend to end.

You won’t find candles and flowers at Nizi Sushi (28 Central Avenue), but you will find a lot more than sushi.

The menu includes Japanese and Korean dishes, as well as sake, beer, wine and cocktails. Sit at the sushi bar and feed each other sushi, or eat in the dining room or outdoor courtyard. It may be New Jersey’s largest city, but Newark has plenty of intimate as well as grand spots where you and your sweetie can find romance.

Newark Bound Magazine: This piece is an expanded compilation of excerpts from the Winter/Spring 2016 NewarkBound.

Anne-Marie Cottone, senior editor of NewarkBound, was a reporter and editor for many years at The Star-Ledger. As a writer, her work also has appeared in Inside Jersey, 40/74 magazine and the Asbury Park Press. Like many New Jerseyans, Vince Baglivo has ties to Newark that extend through generations. He has written for NJ Business, NJBIZ and North Jersey Media Group, and blogs for Newark Patch.

Brooke Tarabour has been a food and features writer for 25 years. She has written and blogged for The New York Times and other regional and national publications and penned Taste of New Jersey for The Star-Ledger for 18 years.