Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the August
22, 2001 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Can the ‘Net Solve The Lunch Dilemma?
Looking for a new place to have lunch? Internet site
Citysearch (www.citysearch.com) lists 3,172 restaurants
within 50 miles of downtown Princeton. Inc. magazine includes the
site in an article in its July issue on online dining guides. The
business magazine’s rundown is aimed at business travelers. Looking
at the nationwide sites Inc. included, and at a couple of local
too, turns up the fact that no one site offers all the information
hungry Route 1 corridor office workers need at lunch time. Taken
however, the online resources provide lots of information.
Inc. faults Citysearch for having "little for suburbanites,"
but, hey, 3,172 restaurants seems like a pretty good number. In fact,
no other online restaurant guide comes close to listing as many
within an easy drive of Princeton, and some list not many more dining
spots than there are tines on a dessert fork.
Citysearch can be searched alphabetically — not very helpful;
how many people say "Hmmmm. Let’s try a restaurant that starts
with a `B’ today? — or by cuisine. The search begins at whatever
location you indicate as ground zero, and moves out geographically.
Under Italian restaurants, Citysearch lists 1,589 choices within 50
miles of 08542, the zip code for downtown Princeton. Romano’s Macaroni
Grill (2.51 miles away) comes first. The Winepress in Kingston,
in Skillman, and the Olive Garden on Route 1 are all there. But where
is Teresa’s Pizetta Caffee on Palmer Square? Seems like an omission,
but a little hunting turns it up under "pizza restaurants," which
is not terribly accurate, although the popular restaurant does serve
pizza along with its extensive list of entrees and salads.
Citysearch turns up 4,944 more pizza restaurants within 50 miles of
downtown Princeton. It counts 120 such dining spots within 10.43
including the venerable Conte’s on Witherspoon Street, and lots of
chain outlets. At 11.60 miles, there are 160 pizza restaurants. Go
out 13.72 miles, and the number is up to 199 — number 199 is
pizza at George’s Road.
Talk about time killers! It’s fun just to run the searches. Great
fodder for a trivia game. (How many Mexican restaurants are there
within five miles of downtown Princeton?) Another good feature is
a "map this" icon on every listing. Click, and up comes a
detailed street map pinpointing the location of the restaurant. On
the down side, descriptions of the restaurants and their menu choices
are skimpy. Users are invited to submit reviews, but few appear to
have done so. A random survey of 10 popular Princeton-area restaurants
turned up no reviews at all.
This "user review" feature appears on nearly every dining
website, but reviews are about as scarce as white tablecloths at
Even when they appear, substance often is lacking. On CuisineNet
(www.cuisinenet.com), for instance, only seven Princeton-area
are listed, and that includes Quilty’s, which moved on years ago.
There are reviews for just two — PJ’s Pancake House and the
& Barrister. LadyIsATramp reviewed both. In her opinion, PJ’s, at
which hordes wait patiently on the sidewalk for a table every Saturday
and Sunday, regardless of the weather, has "its share of crying
babies and fussy toddlers…Definitely not your choice if you’re on
a low fat diet." Her review of the A & B is not much more
She writes "If you’re not too concerned with atmosphere, then
this is a good place to go if you’re into a diverse menu."
CuisineNet’s reviews are representative of what most dining sites
post, and no other parts of the site offer much redemption. The site
gives addresses and phone numbers, and not much else, not even
staff-written reviews. Restaurants are rated, but the ratings are
based on comments of a very small group of people, and sometimes just
website in the Inc. article, but now appears to be linked to
The two share editorial content and have identical home pages.
specialty is covering the dining scene in small communities, and it
does list more Princeton-area restaurants than does CuisineNet, but
not many more. It has about 12 listings. It is hard to figure out
how the selections were made. Sunny Garden is listed along with
Ribs and Roasters, Small World Coffee, and Karen’s Korner. Again,
there are few visitor reviews, and precious little information of
The only choice within the Garden State is the Shore with Atlantic
start-ups have tried — and failed to get very far off the ground.
The site links users to eateries offering take-out and delivery. The
idea is click, and then sit back and wait to open the door to dinner
or a late-night snack. Off to a slow start in the Princeton area,
Food.com lists only a few take-out spots, and most of them have either
closed or dropped out of the Food.com network.
lists exhaustive menus, including each meal, take-out options, and
— most helpful of all for office party planners — complete
catering menus. Type in "Princeton" and 109 restaurants come
up, but some are only "Princeton" by a very long stretch,
one that reaches all the way into the hills at the northwest part
of the state. Still, this site has dining options few others list.
Tiger Noodles on Nassau Street opposite Wild Oats is here, as is
deli on Witherspoon — home of amazing chicken salad and an
Menus.com, however, could use that mileage feature on Citysearch.
The first listing to come up under "Princeton" is Allileo’s
Kitchen in Denville, a town that only a native of Montana or some
similarly wide-open state could consider anywhere near Princeton.
The next listing, Chez Alice on Nassau Street, hits the target. Not
only is the gourmet take-out shop right in the heart of the area,
but its listing is wonderfully complete. Its offerings are divided
into categories, even going so far as to break out for fowl (seven
choices, including Ostrich loin at $19.90 a pound) and poultry (16
choices, each with prices and a complete description).
Included with the menus is a map, phone number, hours of operation
— and that ubiquitous "add a review" feature.
as "the world’s largest dining guide." It lists 150,000
in over 8,000 cities. But only 24 of them are within five miles of
downtown Princeton, and that includes two Burger Kings, two Dominos
pizzas, two McDonalds (including the mini-Mickey D’s in the Wal-Mart
store at Nassau Park), one Papa John’s, two Pizza Huts, one Subway
sandwich shop, and one Wendy’s.
The site allows users to make reservations online — at least in
theory. There is a charge of $4.95 per reservation, unless users sign
up for an account at $7.95 per month or $22.95 per quarter, each of
which entitles subscribers to unlimited reservations. Restaurants
on the site — in addition to all those fast food joints —
include the Triumph Brewery, the Red Lobster on Route 1 South,
at the MarketPlace mall, Tre Piani, and Acacia.
The hostess who answered the phone at TGIFriday said she has never
heard of the site, and added, "we don’t take reservations."
At Tre Piani, chef and partner Jim Weaver said "I didn’t know
we were on the site." None of the people available to answer the
phone at Acacia had ever heard of the site, either. This site might
very well be invaluable to diners in big cities trying to score a
table at a hot restaurant, and could be a good bet for a night out
in New York or Philadelphia or for business travelers, but it is of
little use locally.
user-ratings that made its paper-bound restaurants so popular, is
beautifully organized and fun to browse. Searches can be done by a
number of criteria, including business dining, cuisine, or
Lists guide users to the "Most Popular" restaurants and those
with "Top Food." Alas, Zagat’s raters are either unfamiliar
with Princeton-area restaurants, or aren’t crazy about many of them.
Among the very few restaurants in this area that made the
lists are Acacia in Lawrenceville, SoHo on George in New Brunswick,
and Rats in Hamilton.
Zagat.com lists 98 choices under business dining in New Jersey, but
doesn’t allow visitors to narrow the search more than that, either
by town name or distance, as many other sites do.
full, professionally-written reviews for restaurants in the immediate
area and as far afield as Highland Park, New Hope, Newtown, and
Searches are by cuisine, and not by town. New reviews are highlighted,
and each review contains basic dining information.
website dining guide lists restaurants from New Brunswick through
Trenton, west to Skillman, and across the Delaware into Yardley.
are by town, cuisine, or special feature, including historic, outdoor
dining, fireplace, brunch, entertainment — or any combination
of these criteria. In some cases, listings link to full length,
reviews. All listings contain staff-written descriptions of the dining
experience, including decor, ambiance, and type of cuisine.
As with many dining websites the princetoninfo.com site gives diners
the chance to add their own comments (or vent their anger over an
egregious dining experience). Each listing links to the posted
And the diners are not shy about expressing themselves.
A dream dining guide might include U.S. 1’s search feature, the
extensive reviews, Citysearch’s mileage calculator and maps, Zagat’s
user ratings, and menu.com’s unabridged menus. Until some ambitious
entrepreneur combines these features, surfing around among the
is a good way to find new places to entertain clients, celebrate
or explore some of the 3,172 restaurants (more than in the entire
state of Montana?) within an easy drive of Princeton area offices.
<B>A-1 Limousine has raised $5,410 for the Susan
G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The money was raised through a
softball game with radio station WPST held in July at Armstrong Park’s
baseball field in Ewing.
Nearly half of the money was raised by A-1 employees who obtained
pledges from their family and friends. Key contributors were Tammy
Azzolini and Susan Vorwick, who raised more than $950, and John
who donated $240. The Starr family, owners of A-1, doubled the money
has given a $25,000 grant to HomeFront, the Lawrence-based nonprofit
that helps families, many of them homeless, get back on their feet.
The money will be used to construct a state-of-the-art food panty.
"This grant will allow us to construct a much-needed food pantry,
large enough to allow families to choose food from shelves, not just
receive pre-packed bags," said Celia Bernstein, HomeFront’s
child for back-to-school. In July volunteers from that organization
fanned out, writing down sizes for 668 children who are homeless,
or living in motels, or in families too poor to buy them some or all
of the universal first-day-of-school staples — sneakers, a
a new outfit, fresh notebooks, and money for fall field trips.
So far HomeFront’s volunteers have uncovered about 568 people who
want to help the kids feel like all their classmates — in a word,
spiffy — when the school bell rings. That leaves 100 children.
Give one of them a hand, HomeFront asks. Or better yet, talk your
whole office into a pitching in.
Call HomeFront’s hotline at 609-882-1544 to get information on the
first-day-of-school needs of a child who could use a little help in
getting ready for that big day.
Literacy Volunteers of America in Mercer County
are in "great need" of tutors to help their basic literacy
and English as a second language students. Tutors must attend seven
classes, beginning Wednesday, September 12, and held from 6 to 9 p.m.
The first session takes place at the Hamilton Library. Other sessions
rotate between that library and the Weaton Pointe Library in East
There is no cost for the training sessions. Participants will earn
certification in basic literacy and in English as a second language.
Call June Vogel at 609-393-8855 for more information.
For the complete calendar of events in central New Jersey, go to
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.