Home Features Family Best Family-Owned Restaurants in NJ

Best Family-Owned Restaurants in NJ

The latest update for the Best Family-Owned Restaurants in NJ is written by Lindsay Podolak.

If you’ve ever wished you could walk into a restaurant and get personally greeted by the host, this one goes out to you. You — yes you — have the chance to become the Jersey version of Norm from Cheers. All you need to do is frequent one (or all) of the family-owned restaurants listed below.

No one does food better than Jersey, and these local folks are the ones who make it all happen.

Quick Click Guide: Select an NJ Region below to find the best the best Family-Owned Restaurants near you.
| North Jersey | Central Jersey | Jersey Shore | South Jersey |

More From Best of NJ

North Jersey Family-Owned Restaurants

Angelo’s Ristorante

chef stirring large pots of sauce

Angelo’s quickly became a Lyndhurst staple after opening its doors in 1966, and the Piccirillo family has been proudly serving the area ever since. With classic Italian-American cuisine in a fine dining room, this is the type of place that makes you feel like you’re really in Italy, eating a dish someone’s Nonna made fresh for you. It’s that good.

Location: 263 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst
Must-Have Menu Item: For appetizers, go with the clams oreganata and the shrimp with sauce and biscuit. For dinner, Angelo’s is known for their homemade manicotti and their veal Milanese.
BYOB: No — but if you’re in the mood for just a glass or two, Angelo’s offers half-bottles of wine.
More Info: Give them a call.

Chapala Grill

sizzling fajita plate

For nearly a decade, brothers Louis and Ricardo Chavez have been serving up classic Mexican fare in a fun and friendly environment. Visit Chapala Grill for some delicious margaritas and can’t-miss Mexican delights like chiles rellenos and ceviche.

Location: 52 South Washington Avenue, Bergenfield
Must-Have Menu Item: Fajitas Chapala – shrimp, skirt steak, and chicken grilled with onions, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, and served with tortillas, rice, beans and guacamole.
BYOB: No — Chalapa has a full-service bar (and margaritas made with fresh fruit)
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Mama’s & Cafe Baci


For over 45 years, the Schiano family has been serving up the best northern and southern Italian cuisine at Mama’s. They also create gluten-free meals, and even offer separate menus that cater to guests looking for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options (even pizza!). Mama’s is BYOB, but they exclusively sell Old York Cellars wines by the bottle. The attached Café Baci offers live entertainment every night, which is played on TVs and speakers throughout the dining room.

Location: 260 Mountain Avenue, Hackettstown
Must-Have Menu Item: Owner Thomas Schiano couldn’t choose just one dish to recommend, so he gave us three. Champagne Penne Palma (sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and artichokes in a homemade white champagne sauce over imported penne), Chicken Toscano (battered chicken, roasted peppers, prosciutto and spinach sautéed in white wine over angel hair pasta), and Di Tomasso “Old School” (rigatoni tossed with ricotta cheese and homemade red sauce over meatballs and sausage, topped with mozzarella cheese).
BYOB: Yes – Mama’s also sells Old York Cellars wine by the bottle.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Sammy’s Ye Old Cider Mill

mushroom smothered steak and fries from family-owned restaurant

Opened as a speakeasy in the 1920s by Samuel Fornaro, Sammy’s is now run by Fornaro’s grandkids. Known for dry-aged steaks and its unique service style (guests order when they enter and wait for their food at the downstairs bar), Sammy’s is a favorite among those looking to take a step back in time and enjoy great food while they’re at it. Stop in to see it for yourself!

Location: 353 Mendham Road West (Route 24), Mendham
Must-Have Menu Item: You can’t go wrong with any of Sammy’s steak options, but the double-cut lamb chops (served with apple sauce or vinegar peppers or potatoes) and Shrimp Scampi Sammy’s Style are favorites among Sammy’s guests.
BYOB: No — but Sammy’s offers half-price bottles of wine on Tuesday nights!
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

The Star Tavern

cheese pizza on stand

Serving arguably the best pizza in New Jersey (and that’s a bold statement for any Jersey girl to make), the Star Tavern is known for its thin-crust pies. Owned and operated by the Vayianos family since 1980, this is the perfect place to take the whole family, or to watch the game at the bar with a beer and a pie. From the food to the décor, it’s a true Jersey pizza joint, and not to be missed!

Location: 400 High Street, Orange
Must-Have Menu Item: You can’t stop here without trying the pizza, it really is one-of-a-kind, but The Star Tavern’s buffalo wings are definitely another must-have.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Thistle Fish & Chip and Caterers

large battered fish with chips and dipping sauces

Since opening its doors in 1963, The Thistle has been serving up Old Country-style fish and chips in a warm, family-oriented space. The Leahy family treats patrons like family and provides some of the best fish and chip dinners this side of the Atlantic, in addition to a full menu of seafood dishes. Stop in, or call up for a catered event and they’ll come to you. (Full disclosure, this family-owned restaurant happens to belong to my family. I’ve been a bus girl, dishwasher, cashier, and waitress, but they won’t give me a go at chef.)

Location: 442 Valley Brook Avenue, Lyndhurst
Must-Have Menu Item: The obvious choice here is fish & chips, but my personal favorite is the baked crusted flounder special — a fresh piece of flounder baked with a light breadcrumb crust in a lemon caper butter sauce, served with rice and your choice of roasted potatoes, sautéed green beans, or French fries.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Central Jersey Family-Owned Restaurants

De Martino

cuban meat dish

After years spent working at Martino’s Cuban Restaurant (the family business), Chef Martino Linares branched out on his own to open De Martino, a cozy setting for the same delicious Cuban food. However, not long after he left, his father’s restaurant closed. Of course, fans of Martino’s will find some staples from the old place on the De Martino menu; as well as a host of new, inventive offerings.

Location: 9 Davenport Street, Somerville
Must-Have Menu Item: The fan favorite is the Pernil Ossobuco, an oven-roasted pork shank served over mofongo and topped with mojo vinaigrette and sofrito.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Lovin’ Oven

eggs benedict with potatoes and watermelon

Owners (and spouses) Julie Klein and Mike Quinn believe that food is love, and their farm-to-table dining spot will make you feel right at home. The menu offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch items, plus a range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Location: 62A Trenton Avenue, Frenchtown
Must-Have Menu Item: Come by on a weekend for the Grilled Ham & Jersey Tomato Eggs Benedict (only served for weekend brunch), all piled on a toasted English muffin with Hollandaise sauce and garlic-rosemary potatoes.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Jersey Shore Family-Owned Restaurants

Federici’s Family Restaurant

meat pizza on stand

Federici’s has been a New Jersey staple for almost one hundred years. It all began with Frank and Ester Federici in 1921, and it lives on today as the business passes down through the family. The menu only grows with each new owner, but that old school Italian taste remains – for example, their famous thin crust pizza pies are as good as ever.

Location: 14 East Main Street, Freehold
Must-Have Menu Item: Federici’s thin crust pizza is their claim to fame, but the cheese lasagna here is still made with Ester’s original recipe, making it a must-try for anyone craving a real, homemade Italian dinner.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Piccola Italia

deconstructed dish

Piccola Italia is owned by Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Brian Gualtieri; in fact, he also worked at acclaimed NYC eateries Chanterelle and Montrachet. The menu offers traditional Italian dishes with a modern flair — and Piccola also hosts events such as wine tastings, beer sampling dinners, and cooking classes.

Location: 837 West Park Avenue, Ocean
Must-Have Menu Item: Owner Brian Gualtieri recommends the Porcini Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops – served with truffle mashed potatoes, beurre blanc, port wine reduction, sautéed mushrooms, and mache.
BYOB: No — Piccola offers a robust wine list and an impressive selection of craft beer
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Ventura’s Offshore Cafe

sauced chicken wings

Throughout a 2017 renovation that saw the making of an all new bar area, owner Lou DiVentura has kept Ventura’s a cozy, family-focused restaurant. DiVentura took over from his father in the late 1990s, adding some fresh items to the menu.

Location: 2015 Shore Road, Northfield
Must-Have Menu Item: Split the Caribbean Chicken Fondue with a friend…you’ll dip spicy, grilled chicken, croutons, apples and grapes into a tantalizing smoked Gouda fondue. Pair it with the Peach Cobbler dessert for a refreshing finish to your meal.
BYOB: No — Ventura’s has a vibrant happy hour menu each weekday, plus an attached wine and liquor store.
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

South Jersey Family-Owned Restaurants

Luna Rossa Biagio Lamberti

chicken Parmesan

Luna Rossa Biagio Lamberti has been serving up traditional Italian cuisine for over 25 years. Owner Biagio Lamberti is a member of the Lamberti restaurant family, who have opened seven unique locations over the past three decades. If you’re looking for a casual, family-friendly night out with classic Italian dishes like lasagna and gourmet pizzas, the Lamberti outpost is the spot for you.

Location: 3210 Route 42, Turnersville
Must-Have Menu Item: Luna Rossa – chicken or veal sautéed in a white wine lemon sauce with asparagus, jumbo lump crabmeat, topped with mozzarella cheese and served with capellini.
More Info: www.lambertis.com or click here to call.

Pic-A-Lilli Inn

large bowl of wings

For over 90 years, Pic-A-Lilli Inn has been the go-to for tasty Buffalo wings in South Jersey. Now run by the fourth generation of founder Thomas Snyder’s family, Pic-A-Lilli’s casual dining setup and full bar continues to draw an eclectic crowd each and every day of the week. Head to Pic-A-Lilli for the best wings, on Wednesday if you can; Since 1987, Pic-A-Lilli has offered all-you-can-eat wings each hump day for just $11.95.

Location: 866 Route 206, Shamong
Hours: Open every day from 10:00 am to 2:00 am
Must-Have Menu Item: The Buffalo wings, obviously. Drenched in Pic-A-Lilli’s homemade wing sauce, they’re some of the best you’ll find in New Jersey. The creamy crab soup is also a must-get.
BYOB: No — Pic-A-Lilli has a full liquor bar and rotating craft beers on tap
More Info: Visit the website or click here to call.

Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Chapala Grill
Additional Images): ©
Angelo’s Ristorante / Facebook
Chapala Grill / Facebook
Mama’s Cafe Baci / Facebook
Sammy’s Ye Old Cider Mill / Facebook
The Star Tavern / Facebook
William Leahy / Thistle Fish & Chips
De Martino, A Cuban Restaurant / Facebook
Lovin’ Oven / Facebook
Federici’s Family Restaurant / Facebook
Piccola Italia / Facebook
Ventura’s Off Shore Cafe / Facebook
Lambertis / Website
Pick-a-Lilli Inn / Facebook