Taking It Outside

Taking It Outside

 

Restaurants are opening up their outdoor dining options for the warmer seasons, a particularly welcome advent for those who aren’t quite ready for indoor dining but still want to enjoy good food that doesn’t involve picnic benches and plastic tablecloths.

We’ve rounded up some local restaurants offering a finer outdoor dining experience that’s still mindful of social distancing and cautious patrons’ need for space, just in time for warm-weather celebrations and all those occasions deserving of a special night out.

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Keep in mind that some places require reservations or operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to call ahead.

Barone’s Tuscan Grill in Moorestown
Dig into some generously portioned, reimagined Italian comfort food underneath the greenery latticed throughout Barone’s outdoor patio, which also offers umbrella tables and heat lamps. Patrons have lauded Barone’s authentic northern Italian fare, making particular note of the calamari and updated classics like the crab mac and cheese. Mama’s Sunday sauce, though, remains the most enthusiastically received crowd-pleaser.

The Bistro in Haddonfield
The Bistro is open early for the breakfast crowd and late enough to serve up dinner, too, and its partially covered patio has heat lamps to accommodate spring’s daily temperature ranges, as well as more than 40 guests. The breakfast omelets and dishes are infused with Greek flare, but it’s the grilled octopus appetizer that everyone raves about.

Caffe Aldo Lamberti in Cherry Hill
For decades, this destination restaurant has been offering local diners house-made pasta, fresh-caught seafood and an award-winning wine list, plus a sommelier is available to pair each Italian dish with the right wine or cocktail. Weather permitting, the partially covered patio is open to host dozens of diners and includes a fire pit and space heaters.

Carlucci’s Waterfront in Mount Laurel
If you want to take in fresh scallops, meaty crab cakes, lamb chops or tender pasta along the water, Carlucci’s offers both dinner and scenic views of the Rancocas Creek all day. An open tent keeps the patio dry from spring rains and summer storms, while movable heat lamps ward off any chill from the water’s breeze. Come for the Italian fare and stay for the weekly live entertainment.

The ChopHouse in Gibbsboro
The ChopHouse’s covered deck complete with a bar overlooks Silver Lake so you can feast your eyes on the waterfront while also tucking into satisfying portions of signature salads, seafood, chicken, meatballs or myriad cuts of steak, all accompanied by expertly paired sides. Or treat yourself by capping off your weekend with the Sunday four-course prime rib dinner.

Estia Taverna in Marlton
Enjoy appetizers, seafood, a raw bar, entrees from the land and sea, and even gluten-free options that reflect Estia’s Mediterranean and Greek fare. And the menu isn’t the only thing that’s authentic: You might catch a live Greek band here, too. Grab one of at least 60 seats in front of or behind the property to enjoy the outdoor-only happy hour between 3:30 and 4:30 every day.

The Farm & Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill
The team behind Farm & Fisherman were already some of our favorites and then during the pandemic they started their speakeasy Back Door Pizza and we quickly had a new obsession. The patio offers heat lamps and partial covering and is open whenever weather permits, so you can comfortably sample the selection of refined but never fussy cuisine.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Moorestown Mall
This family-friendly spot and its upscale-lodge setting have lots to offer groups comprising a variety of tastes, preferences and ages. There’s seating for more than 30 at the covered patio, with umbrella tables along the sidewalk and infrared heating lamps keeping the evening chill at bay as you people-watch at the mall.

Giumarello’s in Haddon Township
Hunker down in one of three outdoor dining sections—a patio, an open tent and a handful of uncovered tables, all with heating when needed—and dive into the oyster sampler, decadent burger options or what diners describe as some of the fluffiest gnocchi around. You’ll want to save room for dessert, but be mindful of the two-hour dining limit currently in place.

Li Beirut in Collingswood
Li Beirut prides itself on being a “culinary Lebanese embassy,” celebrating the region’s flavors and spices with a menu featuring baba ghanuj, tabule salad, kebabs, falafel, stuffed vine leaves, shawarma and more with a modern mix of tastes. Tables are nestled under an open tent or situated along the covered patio; some are uncovered, too. Diners are asked to limit their stay to two hours.

Redstone in Marlton
The two-level patio here can seat up to 100 guests, with the upstairs offering umbrella tables and the lower story providing both a covered dining area and roof heating. From brunch to dinner, Redstone and the wood-burning rotisserie and open-flame grill for which it’s named elevate Americana dining with tasteful twists, all of which you can enjoy among the patio’s verdant foliage or while watching the Promenade’s fountain display and shoppers.

Ristorante Fieni’s in Voorhees
Since 1995, the Fieni family has brought Old Country Northern Italian fare to South Jersey with its own spin on classic dishes passed down for generations. Take a seat in the covered back patio with room for nearly 20 tables, and find out why reviews are filled with praise for Fieni’s authenticity, portion sizes and complementary Sambuca. There’s no heating, but windows keep the evening chill away.

RiverWinds in West Deptford
This popular special-occasion destination is situated right on the Delaware River, and prides itself on an elegantly simple dining experience as remarkable as the sunset views. Fittingly, the menu reflects its waterfront dining with a raw bar, appetizers from the sea, and plenty of main-course options from the surf. It also features a full-page drink menu and the uncovered patio is the perfect place to enjoy the weekday happy hours running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Robin’s Nest in Mount Holly
The restaurant is nestled among Mount Holly’s historic downtown and shopping district, and its patio overlooking the Mill Race waterway offers a scenic background to a cocktail, meal or dessert enjoyed after a day of taking in the surrounding area. A tent and heating lamps provide additional protection from the weather.

Terra Nova, Washington Township
Everything from the creative sushi to the raw bar to the pasta are made with fresh and local ingredients at this villa-style restaurant that has a covered patio and moveable heating lamps for al fresco dining. It’s also the perfect place to enjoy weekly offerings like Pasta Sunday, Tuesdays’ Burgers, Bourbons and Brews, and Wine Down Wednesdays.

Toscana, Cherry Hill
A frequent honoree on local best-of lists for everything from outdoor dining to pizza to overall Italian fare, its interpretation of the staples range from a warm crab cheesecake appetizer to wood-fired pizza and, of course, house pasta. Both levels of its covered patio include movable heating lamps and can ensure more than 70 people can safely dine outside.

By the Bar
If you’re looking more for a casual pub atmosphere, there are plenty of outdoor options for those who just want to some drinks or shared munchies. These are just a few South Jersey watering holes to check out.

PJ Whelihan’s, multiple locations
The popular sports bar has plenty of outside options at its many locations scattered around South Jersey; from parking lot setups to patio and outdoor lounge seating with a large amount of tables, endless rows of HDTVs and fire pits.

Dooneys, Delran and Voorhees
With more than 30 years of restaurant experience, the owners of this dual-location Irish-themed pub are serving up authentic food and drinks, including brunch options that pair well with its early-afternoon cocktail menu and patio seating offering a mix of tables and high-boys.

Whistlers Inn, Cinnaminson
Wings and award-winning barbecue are the stars of the show at this neighborhood bar that, after 20 years of serving Cinnaminson, considers its patrons more like family. Its outdoor deck was renovated in 2014 and is fully stocked with more than 20 draft beers.

SweetWater Bar and Grill, Cinnaminson
Sip on a specialty cocktail or one of the 24 beers on draft while noshing on elevated pub grub as you relax on the open-air paver patio that features both covered and uncovered seating areas.

Cinder Bar, Clarksboro and Williamstown
Cinder Bar boasts a seasonal menu with an array of sharing plates along with 60 draft beers, 200 whiskeys, 40 tequilas and more than 40 handcrafted cocktails to help wash them down. Each location has its own unique patio area that becomes highly coveted whenever the sun is shining.

 

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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 18, Issue 2 (May 2021).

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Author: Madeleine Maccar

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