FROM PRINCETON TO HOLLYWOOD

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With Oscar season swirling, it seems fine time to take a look at some A-LIST movies, past and present, with a Princeton area connection.

The 1994 romantic comedy “I.Q.”, is the story of Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau) and his attempts to orchestrate the love life of his niece (Meg Ryan) and a local interest (Tim Robbins). It is filmed entirely on location in Princeton, Cranbury, Hopewell, Montgomery, and Lawrenceville, NJ.

“Princeton is very well-preserved,” notes director Fred Schepisi. “The buildings alone were terrific to photograph and gave us a great atmosphere to work in. In Princeton, you get to meet a lot of academics and you understand what that community is like. It informed our work.”

The chosen locations mirror much of Einstein’s own life in town, which he called home from 1933 until his death in 1955. The Institute for Advanced Study, Palmer Hall at Princeton University, and his former home to name a few. Other recognizable scenes include the Princeton Battlefield and a gas station/garage just outside Hopewell Borough.

“I.Q.” began shooting in early spring and lasted through July. “We took full advantage of all the blossoms,” says Schepisi during a press conference in Manhattan. “Princeton to me is the most amazing place I’ve ever seen in springtime.

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Cut to “A Beautiful Mind, the 2001 drama based on the life story of the late John Nash (Russell Crowe), a Nobel Laureate in Economics and Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University.

This film, directed by Ron Howard, was inspired by a bestselling book nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The film was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director. On-site film locations included Holder Courtyard and Firestone Common Room on the University campus.

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Next up: “Whiplash“, the 2014 drama written and directed by Princeton native Damien Chazelle.  The film tells the story of the relationship between a jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his conductor (J.K. Simmons).  Chazelle himself was a drummer in the acclaimed Studio Band at Princeton High School. “Whiplash” was nominated for five Oscars, with three wins, including Best Supporting Actor.

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And somehow, Damien Chazelle has struck gold twice.  He is on the Oscar hunt again Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the 89th Academy Awards, with his romantic musical “La La Land.”

The film is nominated for 14 awards including 3 for Chazelle: Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director, and heads into the Oscar race on the heels of record-breaking wins at the Golden Globes. 

Treat yourself and head over to the Princeton Garden Theatre to see this extraordinary film before Oscar Sunday.  A-LIST TIP: Get there in time to see the pre-film video and see the writer/director share his own movie memories, made right here in town.

 

 

 

 

OH, WHAT A NIGHT: FROM THE BOATHOUSE to HAMILTON’S GRILL ROOM

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The biggest challenge surrounding a night in Lambertville is choosing where to eat! Named “One of America’s Prettiest Towns” by Forbes.com, it is flush with galleries, antiques shops, unique retail spots, and a stunning array of delicious dining options within just a few blocks.

Today’s A-LIST post features the incredible pairing of a stop at The Boathouse, followed by dinner at Hamilton’s Grill Room.  Both are one-of-a-kind, just like the town itself, and together make for a perfect night out.

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The Boat House is the ideal stop for a pre-dinner cocktail. Off the beaten path, and tucked away along the Delaware, this ivy-covered, nautical-themed bar is a cozy gem with a fireside atmosphere and extensive drink selection. (And don’t miss The Blue Racoon next door, a home furnishings store that “blends modern design with country cozy,” for some interior decoration inspiration.)

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From The Boathouse, head across the way for a meal to remember at Hamilton’s Grill Room. The menu at this BYO changes daily to artfully enhance seasonally sourced farms and butchers. The Winter Menu features, oysters, steak, seafood, and short ribs, to name a few; and the fried oyster atop deviled egg appetizer is an A-LIST favorite!

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Restaurant owner Jim Hamilton, is a Lambertville mainstay and has garnered a loyal following (as have his daughters – Melissa is the cofounder of Canal House Cooking magazine, and Gabrielle is the chef/owner of Prune restaurant in New York City and author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter).

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Said best by Jim himself, “Dinner is not what you do in the evening before something else. It is the evening at Hamilton’s Grill Room.” Bon appetit!

IN THE KNOW: BRICK FARM TAVERN

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The A-LIST has long loved The Brick Farm Market in Hopewell, NJ, an incredible one-stop-shop featuring ingredients from nearby Double Brook Farm. And now the doors are open to owners Robin and Jon McConaughy’s latest addition to the mix, the Brick Farm Tavern.  Don’t let the name fool you; this elegant, food-lovers restaurant is the fulfillment of their ultimate vision, a truly authentic farm-to-table dining experience in an 1800s Hopewell farmhouse.

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Brick Farm Tavern is one of the country’s truest farm-to-table experiences

Success has come swiftly to this destination hot-spot, and the accolades have started early, including an honored spot in NJ Monthly’s January 2016 “Best New Restaurants” edition.  It’s no surprise given the McConaughys’ dream team of Greg Vassos, Executive Chef, formerly of The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL and Mike Lykens, General Manager, hails from the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, CO.

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A-LIST FAVORITE – The Charcuterie Platter on the Bar Menu

Once inside the award-winning restoration of the converted stone Tavern, head to the cozy bar with exposed walls for local craft beers, artisanal cocktails & wine tastings – guided by their sommelier. The bar menu is top-notch (an A-LIST favorite is the burger with fried egg and the charcuterie platter) or go for the full dining experience and enjoy the constant creativity as the availability of meats, poultry, and produce from Double Brook Farm dictates the menu on any given night.

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Private Dining in the Wine Room

Daring diners can go for the five or eight course Chef’s Tasting Menu, and enjoy Sunday Suppers, a new concept added for family style meals of fresh, local ingredients. Unique options for private dining include the Wine Room, the Chef’s Table, and the Library – ideal spots for celebrating special occasions.

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The perfect table for two

When the first seed was sowed for Robin and Jon McConaughy’s farming and culinary adventures with Double Brook Farm, they were looking to provide healthy, local food for their family.  Their idea blossomed into sharing their bounty with others through the Market we all know and love.  And now, they have brought their vision full circle for all of us locals and “traveling foodies” who get to dine on “seasonal, delicious food in an atmosphere reminiscent of the old farming days of Hopewell Township.”

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Visionaries Robin and Jon McConaughy

WEEKEND GETAWAY TO THE BIG APPLE

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There’s a lot to love about Central NJ: Our great public schools, picturesque natural surroundings, and charming historic communities draw residents from all over the world. And our enviable location at the center of the state means that New York City and Philadelphia, two bustling cities, are just a short distance away — making each perfect for a weekend getaway.

To help our friends take advantage of those not-too-distant urban cousins, we’ve put together a two-part, A-List feature on quick weekend trip ideas for both places.  First up is our neighbor to the north, New York City.

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EXPLORE THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE: Philadelphia, PA

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There’s plenty to love about Central NJ: Our great public schools, picturesque natural surroundings, and charming historic communities draw residents from all over the world. And our enviable location at the center of the state means that New York City and Philadelphia, two bustling cities, are just a short distance away—making each perfect for a weekend getaway.

To help our friends take advantage of those not-too-distant urban cousins, we’ve put together a two-part, A-List feature on quick weekend trip ideas for both places. Last time, we explored New York City, and for this week, we’ve assembled a guide to The City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

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IN THE KNOW: A-LIST MOVIE NIGHT

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Princeton Garden Theatre on Nassau Street

While some may lament daylight’s dwindling hours and winter’s fast approach, here at THE A-LIST we like to look on the bright side – movie night! Cozy nights, toasty fireplaces, and getting lost in the adventure of an at-home-flick sound divine. But every now and then, a night out on the town hits the spot. Check out these A-LIST theaters for your next great escape:

PRINCETON GARDEN THEATRE

Founded in 1920 to host Princeton University’s Triangle Club, this landmark is rich with history. Over the years, the Princeton Garden Theatre has undergone many renovations and improvements, most recently in 2014, and is proud to show independent, foreign, and classic films for local movie lovers. The Garden offers tons of options for cinephiles including TALK CINEMA, a monthly series featuring sneak previews of award-winning independent and foreign films selected from leading festivals, and membership options.  A-LIST MOVIE PICK: Hidden Figures.

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AMC Market Fair

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For a seat in the literal lap of luxury, look no further than the just opened AMC Market Fair 10. This theater going experience is summed up best by the New York Times: “The Screen is Silver, but the Seats are Gold”.  Advance ticket sales, seat choice, and individual recliners will make this a movie night to remember. A-LIST MOVIE PICK: Moana.

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Montgomery Cinemas in the Montgomery Shopping Center.

MONTGOMERY CINEMA

Montgomery Cinemas in Skillman started out as an old-fashioned, one-screen cinema in the early 1970’s.  After a renovation in 1995, the Cinemas reopened as a 6-screen multiplex.  Montgomery Cinemas focuses on presenting the best in art, foreign and independent films.  A-LIST MOVIE PICK: LaLa Land.

LET’S GO!

OUR TOWN: PRINCETON

Hosting the nation’s top University might suffice for some towns, but Princeton, N.J., has always been an overachiever. It redefines the term “suburbia” with its proximity to New York City, Philadelphia, and easy rail access. But make no mistake: Princeton is in itself a destination. Recently the The Huffington Post featured their “12 Top Picks in Princeton, NJ”.

For some local flavor, look no further than The Princeton Tour Company, whose tours include Princeton University campus; Einstein’s neighborhood; the neighborhoods of T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Oppenheimer, James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, J.F.K., signers of the Declaration of Independence, and more. Another amazing fact, according to the Tour Company: Princeton has more prize winners than any two square miles on earth (and that’s of the Nobel and Pulitzer varieties).

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At the helm of Princeton’s cultural community is its shining star, The McCarter Theatre. One of the most active cultural centers in the nation with more than 200 theater, music, dance, and special events each year, McCarter has sent many productions on to Broadway and Off Broadway. In June 2013, Artistic Director Emily Mann accepted a Tony Award for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a play she commissioned from playwright Christopher Durang and debuted in Princeton. More must-do’s: Take in Monet’s Lilies at the Princeton Art Museum, enjoy the latest Oscar-winning film at the Garden Theatre, or peruse the shelves of Princeton’s state-of-the-art Public Library.

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For fine dining and shopping, look no further than the town’s center to find two of the top 25 restaurants in New Jersey: Agricola and The Peacock Inn, and stores including local gems Luxaby Baby and Child, Rouge, and Jane Consignment, or the best of big retail including J. Crew and Ralph Lauren.

This is just a sliver of all that awaits you in Princeton—the perfect town for a day trip, weekend jaunt, or, best of all, to call home. Click here to find a property in Princeton.  

H1912: FIND VINTAGE TREASURES IN THIS INDUSTRIAL CHIC BOUTIQUE

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Our latest A-LIST spot is the newest addition to the Hamilton Jewelers brand, H1912.  Hamilton, owned by the Siegel family, has a longstanding Princeton history that dates back to…you guessed it, 1912, and includes a storefront in Palm Beach.  They launched H1912 to showcase vintage and estate jewelry. Why vintage? “Each piece is unique, and each has a story and a history,” says Head Merchant Anne Russell. “They’re telling the story of a period. Everything is authenticated and restored, and like antiques, they get better with time.” The A-LIST caught up with Anne to find out more about H1912, its “industrial chic” shop on Nassau Street, and what treasures await.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.30.07 AMA-LIST: What made you decide to open up a vintage shop in addition to Hamilton Jewelers?

ANNE RUSSELL:  Vintage jewelry and watches have always been part of the Hamilton business, but over the past few years we recognized a demand in clients looking for a larger selection of pre-owned watches and vintage pieces.

A-LIST: How do you find the inventory?

ANNE: We buy pieces from clients who are looking to trade in pieces they don’t like or wear anymore. We have a team of expert watchmakers and gemologists that evaluate and authenticate each piece to make sure that the seller is getting the most for their unwanted items. At H1912 we are committed to the beauty and value and restoration of vintage watches and jewelry. We have each piece restored to its original quality and craftsmanship. All pieces are authenticated and come with a certificate of authenticity by our team. We believe that these pieces are unique and have a history and story to be told.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.29.42 AMA-LIST: What’s behind the name and the design concept?

ANNE: The store is called H1912. Hamilton Jewelers was founded in 1912, and when thinking about an appropriate name for the Vintage brand  we didn’t need to look any further than our history.  The store is located at 104 Nassau Street and the design inspiration is Industrial Chic. We wanted a unique design for this store that would allow the jewelry and watches of so many different styles to stand out. There’s a lot of grey in that store, my favorite color, but the space has a vintage vibe. The cases are refurbished, the ceiling is stripped down to the original bead board, and the center table is an antique found locally. We had so much fun putting this space together. Even the desk chairs were refurbished from my office.

A-LIST: What are some of the most interesting pieces you’ve seen so far?

ANNE: This store is such a treat to merchandise because it’s always changing. One week I’m refurbishing a Cartier Love Bracelet that is from the 90’s and the next day we are looking at a very fine ART Deco Emerald and Diamond Sautoir from the 1930’s. Every day is a new opportunity for both the client and staff to learn about the history of watches and jewelry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.29.29 AMA-LIST: Any tips for combining vintage and new pieces?

ANNE: We love seeing so many new clients coming into the store especially the couple looking for a really unique, one-of-a-kind engagement ring. Those couples then mostly purchase new wedding bands, which is a great way to combine new and unique pieces.

A-LIST: How did you choose Princeton as the location for the new shop?

ANNE RUSSELL: Princeton is such a wonderful community. We love the clients that walk through our doors each day and the other businesses in the community that we partner with. When we first launched, Tico’s made an H1912 signature cold pressed blend for the store. We give it out to our clients and they love it! In addition to our partnerships with other businesses, we wanted to be sure we were giving back to the community so a percentage of our sales is donated to a local charity. We feature them on our website and social media and try to not only give them a financial donation but also raise awareness among our clients for their good work.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.29.59 AM

A-LIST: Do you have any favorite, iconic jewelry pieces from history?

ANNE RUSSELL: I had the opportunity to attend the JEWELS BY JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was amazing, each piece is a curated commissioned piece that transcends jewelry to art.

A-LIST: Any trends yet of best-selling vintage items at the store?

ANNE RUSSELL: Signed jewelry pieces from Cartier, Chopard and Tiffany have been the most popular.  For watches, vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe and Cartier are most in demand, but we also have items priced from just around $100. There is great value in buying pre-owned and people are really responding to the design as well as the price.

A-LIST: Can you engrave/monogram vintage items?

ANNE RUSSELL: Absolutely! We have a team that can personalize most pieces.  For example, the case back of a watch with your graduation or wedding date, or your child’s initials on a pendant.

Here at the A-LIST we love to keep our eye on the latest and greatest spots. To check out these one-of-a-kind pieces, visit H1912 at 104 Nassau Street, Monday-Friday 10-5, Sunday 12-5, or visit H1912.com (A-LIST tip:  you can sign up for new item alerts!). Happy hunting!

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LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE: Hosting The Perfect Pool Party

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We proudly premiere the next video in our “Love Where You Live” Lifestyle Series… “Hosting The Perfect Pool Party” was filmed in collaboration with author and lifestyle expert Maureen Petrosky. As we head into the holiday weekend, take just a minute or so to pick up some quick tips for making your next pool party the best ever!

Hosting a pool party can be fun and fabulous with just a few key preparations. Hosts often spend the entire party running in and out of the house gathering items for their guests. Instead of playing fetch, “Tray It Up”… Most home stores offer a variety of tray options that work well both indoors and outdoors. Having a stylish, easy way to efficiently transport a collection of items from the inside of your home to your outdoor entertaining space will enable the host spend more time at the party.

A­-List Essentials For Hosting the Perfect Pool Party:

Kitchen Carrier: Use a large tray with handles to hold your condiments, plates, napkins, and utensils inside until the party starts. You can assemble this tray hours in advance so it is ready to go when guests arrive. Simply carry it to your grill or outdoor dining area at mealtime. Makes for easy clean up, too!

Towel Transport: Provide your guests with plenty of extra towels. Choose one color that suits your poolside decor and place them all in a basket. If they are all the same color, it makes it easy for you and your guests to identify which towels remain at the house. Using a basket allows for easily transport from the linen closet out to the pool. After the party, reload the basket with used towels for a quick trip back to the laundry room.

Detailed Delivery: Successful entertaining is always in the details. Anticipating guests’ needs with a tray of summertime outdoor essentials like extra sunscreen, bug spray, swimming goggles, sun visors, band­aids, and even sunglasses will ensure your guests are comfortable and their various needs are met.

Pouring Poolside: ­This is the one time where plastic is perfect! Use another tray to set up a pretty plastic pitcher and tumblers to serve your guests a refreshing poolside sip.

As you can see, “Traying It Up” makes for easy transport of all sorts of pool party supplies between the house and your outdoor entertaining space. It not only helps keep you stylishly organized, but more importantly lets the host spend more time enjoying the party with their guests poolside. Enjoy!

Click here to watch “Love Where You Live: Hosting the Perfect Pool Party”.

Missed the first video in our lifestyle series? Pick up some quick tips for hosting an impromptu, fun-filled evening with friends and neighbors: Click here to watch “Love Where You Live: Outdoor Entertaining At A Moment’s Notice”.

Maureen Petrosky appears regularly as a Lifestyle Expert on NBC’s Today Show. Author of The Wine Club, The Cocktail Club, and popular columnist for TODAY.com, thekitchn.com, and many more publications, fans love her accessible and fun approach to making quick and easy yet sophisticated recipes, parties, decorating, food and wine pairings, and of course cocktails. Maureen is the ultimate hostess, and the only Lifestyle Expert focused on helping young professionals, moms, neighbors and co­workers bring their online social experiences to life with real­world social clubs inspired by her smart­chic book series, TV and spokesperson appearances, and regular editorial features like her “The 10­Minute Happy Hour.”

SUMMER MEANS AL FRESCO DINING

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The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. And that means it’s the perfect time of year for dining al fresco! Nothing beats enjoying some fresh air and sunshine along with a delicious meal.

Luckily for residents of central NJ, our area is rich with great places to eat and drink outdoors. Just in time for the start of summer, here’s our list of great outdoor dining options in Greater Princeton:

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Despaña Restaurant & Tapas Café – Princeton

Billed as “the best of Spain in NJ,” this Tapas and small plates bistro serves fare that’s perfect for sharing. For diners looking for a quick trip to the Old World without the airline ticket, Despaña offers an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy hot Flamenco music and cool Sangria.

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Witherspoon Grill – Princeton

This classic American steakhouse has become a destination for carnivorous Princetonians. In addition to a vibrant beer and cocktail bar, the Witherspoon Grill features an expansive patio right in the center of downtown Princeton. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a hearty meal and take in the sights and sounds of the town during the summer months.

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Mediterra – Princeton

This Princeton gem specializes in Mediterranean flavors. Their signature dish – the Spanish paella – is a generous portion best enjoyed with company and washed down with a glass of one of their many Spanish wines. Fans of al fresco dining will delight in savoring their meal next to Mediterra’s beautiful outdoor fountain – you might close your eyes and think you’ve been transported to Barcelona!

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Vidalia – Lawrenceville

At this “Kitchen with Passion” in Lawrenceville, Sicily-born chef Salvatore Scarlata prepares fresh recipes from his native land. His attention to detail and masterful command of flavors earned him a loyal following, along with rave reviews. This BYOB doesn’t charge a corkage fee (bonus!), and their canopied outdoor seating area, softly illuminated with strings of lights, offers diners whimsical escape.

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Nomad Pizza – Hopewell

This funky Hopewell pizzeria gets its name from its origins as a pizza truck, but its BYOB outpost in Hopewell is a now great place to stay put. Pies range from classic margherita to more adventurous interpretations, such as “Gorgonzola-pear” or shitake mushroom. Diners in their quirky yet refined outdoor area can see their historic 1949 REO Speedwagon pizza truck and take in their large garden of fresh herbs and arugula, which they use to season their food.

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The Boathouse – Lambertville

The Boathouse in Lambertville is a classic bar on the Delaware River. It’s cozy, but tipplers who can secure seating will delight in the establishment’s charming nautical décor, rustic ambiance and some of the best margaritas around. Their vine-covered patio is a model of vintage charm, and it can become quite lively with revelers during the warmer months.

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Lambertville Station – Lambertville

Another destination along the banks of the Delaware, the Lambertville Station is situated in an old train station (hence the name). This rustic inn and pub serves modern American fare and features an extensive wine list. Their outdoor dining area – complete with stunning views of the Delaware and New Hope, PA – makes it irresistible.

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Antimo’s Italian Kitchen – Hopewell

Antimo’s Italian Kitchen in Hopewell specializes in dishes from Italy’s southern regions. Called a trattoria and a pizzeria, guest can’t go wrong ordering either. Their monthly specials all feature handmade pasta, and they serve both thin crust and thicker crusted,“Brooklyn” style pizza. The atmosphere here is casual and their outdoor patio area is large enough to accommodate bigger parties. A great place to come with friends or the kids after a soccer game or a day at the pool.

Beyond great food made from fresh, seasonal ingredients, summer also offers a chance to explore your own backyard. We certainly find new places to love everyday! So we’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite local spots for al fresco dining?