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Best of the Best 2015

by Erica Bauwens, Matt Cosentino, Amanda Hamm Hengel, Liz Hunter, Rachel Morgan and Peter Proko; Select photography by Jeff Fusco

As you may imagine, canvassing South Jersey for our annual Best of the Best feature is no small job. It’s the culmination of a year’s worth of eating, drinking, shopping and pampering. OK, we realize that doesn’t actually sound too bad, but trust us, it’s a lot of hard work. We traveled through¬out the area in search of worthy winners from both well-known establishments and those off the beaten path. The payoff is being able to bring you our selections for everything from chocolates and cigars to fine jewelry and flowers. To make the list even more comprehensive, we’ve also included our readers’ choices for their favorite places in a variety of categories. It certainly was a busy year, but we’re always up for the job.

FOOD & DRINK

STROMBOLI
Abbruzzi & Giunta’s
There’s something about Abbruzzi & Giunta’s strombolis that keep us coming back for more. Maybe it’s the variety, with strombolis like prosciutto and roasted peppers, salami, broccoli rabe and provolone and grilled veggie listed alongside classic pepperoni and meatball. Or maybe it’s their specialty blend of cheeses that ooze out with the first bite. Whatever it is, we’re not the types to question perfection. Mount Laurel, (856) 231-0203, AbbruzziGiunta.com

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Allora by Da Soli
Chef and owner Mark Berenato has done it again with Allora, his second South Jersey restaurant featuring a completely original menu full of flavor. You get rustic, classic Italian served up generously with fresh, top-of-the-line ingredients in an inviting space where the vibe is as comforting as the plates on the table. Marlton, (856) 596-6882, AlloraFood.com

NAAN BREAD
Paradise Biryani Pointe
Indian lovers around the area have probably had their share of this traditional flat bread, but trust us when we say you ain’t seen naan-thing yet. We use Paradise’s extensive menu of curries and kebabs as an excuse to dive into their garlic naan, which comes bursting with garlic flavor and topped with ribbons of fresh cilantro. Marlton, (856) 574-4967, MarltonParadise.com

AL FRESCO DINING
Zaffron Mediterranean Cuisine
There are few places more charming than Haddonfield’s Kings Highway, but dining outdoors on the main street also means sharing your space with the pedestrians, pets and street traffic. Zaffron’s al fresco seating is built into its own private alcove, so you can enjoy the bustling downtown without passersby hovering over. Haddonfield, (856) 429-2800, ZaffronMediterraneanCuisine.com

FROZEN YOGURT
Frusen Berri
Take your pick from a variety of fun and funky frozen yogurt flavors (cinnamon bun, anyone?) then dive into the selection of toppings, syrups, fresh fruit and candies. Grab a seat at one of their outdoor tables or chill out in their upscale lounge space inside, which includes couches, a television and plenty of tables and chairs. There’s even an espresso machine and coffee station for the grown-ups, so you can make it through that sugar high with a bit of energy. Collingswood, (856) 858-6200, FrusenBerri.com

WINGS
Whistler’s Inn
Whistler’s wings come fried crispy before being tossed in your choice of sauce, and we speak from more than enough experience when we say there’s nothing quite like that first, satisfying crunch. The homemade sauces come in flavors like garlic, barbecue and bald eagle—a spicy concoction not for the faint of heart. Cinnaminson, (856) 786-7427, WhistlersInnNJ.com

SOUP OF THE DAY
Marie’s Sandwich Bar
It’s hard to pick just one soup that we love from Marie’s, and not just because they change from day to day. The team behind Marie’s daily soup specialties use the freshest ingredients to produce out-of-this-world varieties like Sante Fe chicken, vegan tomato bisque, and even cold options like raspberry and tomato gazpacho or cucumber avocado basil that keep us coming back all year long. Haddonfield, (856) 375-2449, MariesSandwichBar.com

LAMB TACOS
Oasis Mexican Grill
Meaty leg of lamb gets cooked slow until tender, then shredded and served in plates of three tacos, all on corn tortillas and topped with fresh lettuce, queso blanco and just a bit of sour cream. They’re proof of what attention to detail and a respect for authentic Mexican technique can do. Collingswood, (856) 858-1807, OasisMexicanGrill.com

FAST CASUAL RESTAURANT
Honeygrow
Let’s face it, fast food and healthy eats don’t typically go hand-in-hand. Honeygrow takes that notion and flips it upside down, creating fast casual stir fries, salads, smoothies and more with a focus on high-quality ingredients served as fresh and simply as possible. The menu also appeals to vegan and gluten-free eaters, with clearly labeled sauces, toppings and salad dressings to pick from. Cherry Hill, (856) 520-8122, Honeygrow.com

CHOCOLATES
Giambri’s Quality Sweets
Chocolate lovers will appreciate all of the handmade items from this fourth-generation family-owned candy shop, but for something that will truly blow your mind, try a box of the caramel-filled European waffles covered in Belgian milk chocolate and toppings like M&M’s or rainbow jimmies. This is one six-pack that won’t last very long. Clementon, (856) 783-1099, Giambris.com

CAKES
Adelaide’s Cakes
Whether you’re looking for a birthday cake shaped like your child’s favorite character—think Elmo or R2-D2—or a dazzling wedding cake that your guests will never forget, Adelaide’s is the spot. Their cakes, which are delivered from South Jersey all over the East Coast, are creative, original and most importantly, delicious. Glendora, (856) 939-3677, AdelaidesCakes.com

CHEESESTEAK EGG ROLLS
Catelli Duo
You can find cheesesteak egg rolls at just about any sports bar in the area nowadays, but not like this. The flavorful steak comes “wit” plenty of Catelli’s homemade cheese whiz sauce for dipping, and is the ideal choice to start off a memorable meal. Voorhees, (856) 751-6069, CatelliDuo.com

PRIME RIB SANDWICH
The Red Hen
With a diverse menu that suits the eclectic atmosphere of the restaurant, The Red Hen has become a popular stop for any meal of the day. Might we suggest the prime rib sandwich—thinly sliced meat with cheddar cheese and creamy horseradish—as a standout on their impressive sandwich list. Swedesboro, (856) 467-3058, TheRedHen.biz

CORN ON THE COB
Duffield’s Farm Market
No summer barbecue is complete without sweet Jersey corn from this Gloucester County favorite farm. Not only is the corn itself sizable, but the kernels are full, giving intense flavor in each bite. Now is when the corn is at its best and the good eating will last through the rest of the summer season. Washington Township, (856) 589-7090, DuffieldsFarm.com

ITALIAN DELI
Matteo’s Italian Food Products
Originally located in South Philly, Matteo’s selection of high-quality products is now easily available on this side of the bridge. That includes homemade pastas and mozzarella, loaded hoagies, specialty meats like parma prosciutto, cannolis and more. Sicklerville, (856) 629-5799, MatteosItalianFood.com

SHRIMP AND CRAB BISQUE
Pat’s Pizza
We weren’t expecting to find great soup at this pizzeria, but Pat’s does so many things right, and this bisque is at the top of the list. Filled with plenty of baby shrimp and lump crab meat, this tasty treat always warms us up on a cold day. Marlton, (856) 810-9999, PatsFamilyRestaurant.com

SOUL FOOD
Aunt Berta’s Kitchen
It can be tough finding real, home-style Southern dishes around South Jersey, which is why we can’t get enough of the plates coming out of Aunt Berta’s Kitchen. Take your pick from Southern staples like fried chicken, ribs and fried fish then add on unbeatable sides like candied yams, mac and cheese, and our personal favorite: slow-cooked collard greens. Berlin and Oaklyn, (856) 858-7009, AuntBertasKitchen.com

FOOD TRUCK
Kevin’s Salad Station
In a sea of trucks serving up fatty street food, Kevin Stanton serves up a fresher roadside option. Stanton chops and tosses a variety of salads out of his custom-made truck, with impressive homemade dressings to match. You can follow the truck’s route on Facebook or catch it at the Westmont Farmer’s Market throughout the summer. (609) 424-4282

CARIBBEAN FOOD
Little Negril Jamaican Restaurant
This family-run restaurant takes us on a Caribbean vacation every time we come in with Jamaican plates that are packed with tropical flavor. We’re partial to the jerk chicken and oxtails, but will never turn down one of their crispy, flavorful meat pies. Cherry Hill, (856) 755-0002; Berlin, (856) 753-3100, LittleNegrilJamaicanRestaurant.com

MACARONS
Posh Pop
You’d be surprised to learn that the tasty treats coming out of Posh Pop’s ovens are all gluten- and wheat-free. Especially the Parisian-style macarons, which come in an interesting assortment of flavors like cinnamon French toast, Nutella, green tea and fleur de sel. Each macaron is light and fluffy, with a hand-crafted, creamy filling that you won’t soon forget. Haddonfield, (856) 428-7674, PoshPopBakeshop.com

COMFORT FOODS
The Apron
You can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy inside after sitting down for a meal here. Food prepared from scratch that reminds us of childhood meals prepared by mom is why we’re regular customers. From the hearty soups and refreshing salads to fresh baked baguettes and meatloaf, the menu changes frequently, just like at home. Haddonfield, (856) 795-4333, TheApronOnline.com

WATER ICE
Primo Water Ice
There’s so many fine flavors of water ice here that no matter what winds up on the menu board during your visit, you’ll find something to suit your taste buds. Tangerine and mojito both rank high on our list, while others like white Russian and chocolate banana are also attention-grabbing. Picking just one may be the hardest part. Westmont, (856) 854-822, PrimoWaterIce.com

PANINIS
Lulu’s Lunchbox
A popular spot for grab-and-go lunch in Medford, this place makes fresh paninis that will satisfy those midday hunger pangs. They change frequently but if you spot the spinach, artichoke and sundried tomato or the crispy chicken with havarti cheese and honey mustard, you won’t be disappointed. Actually grab one for us, too, we’re hungry just thinking about them. Medford, (609) 953-5800, LulusLunchbox.com

TAMALES
La Cita
What this teeny Mexican joint lacks in size it makes up for with bold, authentic flavors. There’s a lot to like on the menu, but no order is complete without sampling their tamales. Chicken or pork is cloaked in masa for a starchy, savory bite enhanced by your choice of sauces. (We suggest going with the complex mole.) Cherry Hill, (856) 375-2194, LaCitaAuthenticMexicanFood.com

BABKA
L&M Bakery
Most folks associate babka—the soft, spongy cake-like bread—with the common cheese variety. You can find that at L&M, and it’s quite good, but you’ll want to expand your horizons a little. Raspberry, chocolate and apricot are some of our favorites and we are not alone as Polish food vendors in Philadelphia often order from here, as well. You may want to start thinking about your holiday orders now. Delran, (888) 887-1335, LMBakery.com

FRIED PICKLES
Fat Louie’s
Once considered a Southern delicacy, fried pickles have thankfully made their way up north. And while most places tend to coat whole spears, which inevitably become unsheathed after one bite, Fat Louie’s does it right by slicing the pickles and frying them as chips. The result is a crispy, audibly crunchy side order that’s a bit of a main attraction. Woodbury, (856) 853-1000, FatLouiesNJ.com

TO GO ORDER
Iron Hill Brewery
It doesn’t have to be game day to score Iron Hill’s fabulous $25 takeout special of two pizzas and a 64-ounce growler filled with one of their signature handcrafted brews. We go for the parma pizza (prosciutto, spinach, balsamic-glazed onions, asiago and mozzarella cheeses finished with a garlic sauce) or a traditional pizza where we like to add bacon and goat cheese. Maple Shade, (856) 273-0300; Voorhees, (856) 545-9009; IronHillBrewery.com

HAPPY HOUR
Distrito
Moorestown meets Mexico City at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ vibrant Distrito where happy hour is a daily celebration of quality food and drinks. Sip on $5 sangria and margaritas while munching on fresh guacamole and chips or dig into the $5 tacos (two per order) that come with your choice of chicken, fish or pork and well-thought out accompanying ingredients that give sophistication to food you eat with your hands. Moorestown, (856) 252-0300, Moorestown.DistritoRestaurant.com

BISCOTTI
Bella’s Biscotti
Medford Lakes’ Natalie Stone is behind this online-based cookie distributor and she makes some of the most sinfully delicious Italian cookies we’ve ever tasted. We love the mint chocolate chip and the cranberry almond, but there’s something to be said about the good old-fashioned anise. BellasBiscotti.com

CLAM STRIPS
Val’s Seafood Trattoria
Breaded, fried and oh-so-addictive, the clam strips here are anything but skimpy. Served with homemade tartar sauce, these briny, crunchy delights just taste like summer. They come in half-pound orders, which makes them perfect for sharing, but we wouldn’t hold it against you if you preferred to keep things to yourself. Sewell, (856) 468-6655, ValsSeafood.com

FLATBREAD
Champps
Some pizza purists are overly dismissive when it comes to flatbreads. We would challenge them to eat the chicken, bacon and spinach version from Champps and not become a convert. Grilled flatbread is the foundation for grilled chicken, silky spinach, crunchy bacon and finished with mozzarella and an artichoke sauce for a bit of an added flavor profile. Marlton, (856) 985-9333, Champps.com

SALAD
Blue Fig Café
You can get a salad at most any restaurant, but the Blue Fig Café takes theirs up a notch with quality, fresh ingredients and unique homemade dressings. We especially love their signature salad, which includes spring lettuce, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, roasted walnuts and grilled halloumi cheese, topped with their special fig vinaigrette. Moorestown, (856) 638-5186, BlueFigCafe.net

DOUGHNUTS
Beiler’s Coffee and Donut Shop
If you’re a doughnut aficionado and have yet to bite into any one of Beiler’s pillows of goodness, you’re missing out. Made fresh Thursday through Saturday (operating days for the Amish Market where Beiler’s is located), you won’t find a place offering more topping varieties or filling flavors that make up delectable bites like chocolate covered strawberry and peanut butter and jelly. Mullica Hill, (856) 223-9998, AmishMarketMullicaHill.com/Beilers_Coffee_Donutshop

PIES
Sweet T’s Bakeshop
As the name suggests, sugary confections are the specialty at Sweet T’s, and while we’d never turn down any of their baked goods—their muffins and scones are the perfect morning treat—we’re partial to their pies, which lean more toward the traditional. Think pumpkin and lemon meringue, but also the unique—you won’t find a better pear pomegranate anywhere else. Haddonfield, (856) 428-0222, SweetTsBakery.com

WINERY
Sharrott Winery
Whether you like your wine dry or a little on the sweeter side, Sharrott Winery has something for everyone. From a light-bodied pinot grigio to a bold chambourcin to our favorite, Just Peachy Sangria—the name says it all—we can’t help but look forward to a warm weekend afternoon relaxing on Sharrott’s patio, glass in hand. Blue Anchor, (609) 567-9463, SharrottWinery.com

GRILLED CHEESE
Eat. Pizza
The authentic (and very delicious) Neapolitan wood-fired pizza might be the main attraction at this new Cherry Hill eatery, but tucked away in another section of the menu is the grilled cheese panini. Loaded with not one, not two, but three different cheeses—smoked gouda, fontina and smoked mozzarella—this panini is a polished twist on one of our favorite childhood meals. Cherry Hill, (856) 424-2020, EatPizzaRestaurant.com

LOBSTER TAIL
Carlo’s Bakery
Far sweeter than its sea-faring counterpart, the lobster tails from Carlo’s Bakery in Marlton— the only South Jersey outpost of Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro—are crafted from a flaky, crunchy dough, baked to a perfect golden brown and filled with cream. The pastries are the bakery’s top-selling item, and after tasting them, we can’t say we’re surprised. Marlton, (856) 452-5552, CarlosBakery.com

FOOD COURT
Rastelli Market Fresh
Rastelli Market Fresh is far more than just a high-end grocery store, and boasts a variety of made-to-order options, from the taqueria to the sushi and raw bar to Craftwich, featuring ready-made gourmet sandwiches to anchor a hearty lunch. Try the Caprese panini, which features the usual suspects: basil, fresh tomato, mozzarella, a dash of balsamic vinegar and sprinkling of rosemary to give it that extra kick. You’ll also find brick-oven pizza, fresh salads and Asian-inspired offerings like pad Thai. Marlton, (856) 334-8074, RastelliMarket.com

COOKIES
Sweet Eats Bakery
While this local hotspot is perhaps most well-known for their specialty cakes, it’s their butter cookies we can’t stay away from. Featuring 16 tantalizing varieties, like raspberry spritz, pecan sandies, orange cranberry, chocolate chip, almond brittle and chocolate molten, you can’t go wrong—unless you buy your cookies elsewhere. Marlton, (856) 596-0331, SweetEatsCakeBakery.com

COFFEE HOUSE
Harvest Coffee Roastery
Serious coffee drinkers have followed their noses to Medford’s Harvest Coffee Roastery, where a father-son duo are roasting and serving upwards of 12 different blends in-house. On the menu of this intimate coffee house on Main Street are countless opportunities to caffeinate your tastebuds—with their Sumatran blend or even an organic coconut black tea—making it our go-to spot for a midday pick-me-up. Medford, (609) 975-8484, HarvestCoffee.com

MEATLESS MEALS
Norma’s Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine
A mecca for vegetarians, Norma’s offers up meals that could cause any carnivore to take notice. Start off with the hummus and pita for the table before diving into any of their veggie- or vegan-friendly dishes, like the vegan moussaka with locally made seitan, veggies and chickpeas topped with an almond béchamel. Cherry Hill, (856) 795-1373, NormasRestaurant.com

FRENCH FRIES
The Pour House
The Pour House is one of our favorite beer bars in South Jersey, and the more time we spend there, the better acquainted we become with their exceptional food menu. In particular we’re fond of their cheese fries with short rib gravy. This heaping plate of shoestring fries topped with pulled short rib, soaking in juicy gravy and smothered in melty American cheese is far from your typical bar snack. Grab a pint, a fork and dig in. Westmont, (856) 869-4600, PJsPourHouse.com

NACHOS
Blue Monkey Tavern
When you’re devouring—er, enjoying—a plate of really good nachos, chip-to-topping ratio is a key factor. This Merchantville tavern gets it right, piling tri-colored tortilla chips with refried black beans, jalapeno peppers, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions, cilantro and a generous helping of sweet, yet tangy pork. Once you add the salsa, sour cream, guacamole and homemade cheese sauce (all included), you’ve got yourself a big plate of happiness. Merchantville, (856) 661-8008, BlueMonkeyTavern.com

ICE CREAM
Leo’s Ice Cream Company
Leo’s is more than a Medford mainstay, it’s a South Jersey institution known for scooping up the best homemade ice cream in the region. We’re suckers for the usual suspects like strawberry and cookies and cream, but if you’re feeling adventurous, this is the place. Go for flavors like cannoli or pumpkin pie when in season. Or the aged balsamic strawberry. Or the blueberry cheesecake. Or… you get the point. Medford, (856) 797-8771, LeosIceCream.net

STICKY BUNS
Aversa’s Italian Bakery
We love Aversa’s bakery for several reasons, but a quick morning trip for some of their scrumptious sticky buns is a rite of passage. Whether covered in nuts or raisins, there’s no wrong way to indulge in these heavenly delights. Turnersville, (856) 227-8005, AversasBakery.com

BARBECUE
David & Sons Meats
This relatively new addition to the South Jersey food scene—founded by executive chef David Wiederholt—is a top-notch butcher shop that also offers fresh seafood and sandwiches. But be sure to try their takeout barbecue selections that would fit perfectly in Tennessee or Texas. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork and more are slow smoked over an oak fire to mouthwatering results. Swedesboro, (856) 832-4870, DavidAndSonsNJ.com

HOAGIES
Pal Joey’s Deli
From several different versions of an Italian hoagie to a healthier choice like eggplant, roasted peppers and sharp provolone, Pal Joey’s is known for packing their seeded rolls full of taste. And if you’re not afraid of a little kick, try one of their famous Diablo varieties, like turkey or roast pork. Sewell, (856) 415-9600, PalJoeysDeli.net

CUPCAKES
Cake Stand Bakery
This bakery puts out some of the most intricately designed treats—for the eyes and mouth—for birthdays, showers and weddings, but you don’t need a celebration to indulge in their cupcakes. The moist cake topped with not-too-sweet icing in flavors that rotate, like the coffee and doughnuts or chocolate chip cookie dough, is perfect for any party—or any old weekday afternoon. Voorhees, (856) 229-7384, CakeStandBakery.com


BEER TASTING ROOM
Forgotten Boardwalk Inside an unassuming building in Cherry Hill you’ll find a tasting room as curious as the beers on tap. Forgotten Boardwalk has all of the trappings of a throwback boardwalk, including fun house mirrors, vintage carnival posters and two skee ball machines ripe for some friendly competition. We recommend bringing a snack, ordering a tasting flight (don’t miss the Funnel Cake Nitro) and settling into one of the most unique atmospheres in South Jersey. Cherry Hill, (856) 437-0709, ForgottenBoardwalk.com

 

RETAIL

CRAFT SHOP
Paper Source
Paper Source’s greeting cards, unique gifts and wrapping paper selection will delight even the most seasoned DIY-er, while the friendly staff and cozy interior feels more like a local staple than national chain. Personally, we love the greeting card selection. Anyone tired of the usual sentimental selections will appreciate the shop’s eclectic offerings: Think quippy sayings and surly cats in birthday hats. Marlton, (856) 552-2141, PaperSource.com

PET SUPPLY STORE
Concord Pet Foods & Supplies
If your pet has more dietary restrictions than you do, this local shop will soon be your go-to in caring for your furry companion. Carrying high-end food brands ranging from Fromm to Primal freeze dried raw food to Science Diet, quality treats and real, meaty bones—yes, we’re serious—you’ll find everything you’ll ever need for your dog, cat, fish, reptile, bunny and more. Cherry Hill, (856) 429-1690; Mount Laurel, (856) 780-5552; ConcordPetFoods.com

FABRIC SELECTION
The Village Quilter
DIY-ers everywhere know the frustration that comes with not being able to find the material for a big project. The Village Quilter puts your fears at ease with hundreds of different fabric materials, designs and designers, ranging from crafty and trendy swatches to more timeless colors and collections that will leave you with limitless possibilities. Mount Holly, (609) 265-0011, TheVillageQuilter.com

HARD-TO-FIND WOMEN’S DESIGNER WARES
Erdon
The local staple, which recently relocated to the Moorestown Mall after leaving its Marlton location, carries hard-to-find designer wares from the likes of Jerome Dreyfuss, Phillip Lim, Matthew Williamson and Ivan Grundahl. It’s a well-curated, minimalist fashionista’s haven. Moorestown, (856) 914-0300, Erdon.co

HIGH-END WOMEN’S CLOTHING
Tehen
Tehen has long been known as a destination for securing women’s designer clothing and accessories. But it’s the personal attention and style-savvy advice customers receive from the staff while perusing the racks of Trina Turk, Tory Burch, Tahari and the like that has consistently pushed this boutique into Best of the Best territory. Cherry Hill, (856) 424-4347, LeeNewman.com

BEAUTY SUPPLY STORE
Blue Mercury
This smallish storefront with two Marlton locations has quickly become our favorite place to score hard-to-find beauty bounty. From Nars lipstick in nearly every shade available to Clarins’ top-of-the-line skincare serums and sunscreens, Blue Mercury has got you covered. Marlton, (856) 985-9226, (856) 810-7606, BlueMercury.com

SMALL GIFTS
Fond Memories
From Pandora to Vera Bradley to Brighton Collectibles, you’re bound to procure a small token of appreciation for any woman in your life. But it’s their selection of Alex & Ani bracelets that really impresses us. We might just pick up a few for ourselves, thank you very much. Medford, (856) 596-6536, Fond-Memories.com

BESPOKE EYEWEAR
Fortuna Optical
If your specs need an upgrade, why not try on a pair of Tom Fords, Ditas or Chanels for size? This local purveyor of eyewear is family owned and operated, and has something for every taste—and after visiting, you can guarantee no one else will see the world quite like you do. Marlton, (856) 797-0600, FortunaOptical.net

MENSWEAR
Lee Newman
The folks at Lee Newman know how to make a man look good, with lots of casual looks, shoes and accessories. But when it’s time to get buttoned up, their array of high quality suits, dress shirts and ties will have you looking better than you ever have. Not sure if a look is for you? The friendly and knowledgeable staff will make sure you’re on the cutting edge without overdoing it. Cherry Hill, (856) 424-8388, LeeNewman.com

MEN’S ACCESSORIES
Gorshin Trading Post
This charming Haddonfield storefront boasts a collection of unique and artisan men’s accessories, sure to please even the most discerning of shoppers. Think handcrafted shavers and brush sets, Bulldog Skincare items and an impressive selection of rugged, yet functional, duffels, field bags and briefcases, perfect for him to take to work—or on his next adventure. Haddonfield, (856) 427-6800, Gorshin.com

CUSTOM JEWELRY
Family Jewelers
This Marlton shop has all the usual baubles and jewels one would come to expect from a high-end jewelry shop, but it’s their custom designs that really shine. With threef full-time designers on staff, and a combination of computer design and good old-fashioned pencil and paper, one of their master craftsmen just might create your next family heirloom. Marlton, (856) 983-6337, FamilyJewelers.com

NECKLACES
JG Kronenberger
This Medford jeweler has an unparallel selection of necklaces—from diamond pendants to precious stones with halos, to the trendy gold monogram necklaces, the perfect choice for any woman in your life, from your wife to your mother to your teenage daughter. Medford, (609) 654-2234, JGKronenberger.com

BRIDAL JEWELRY
Billig Jewelers
Put a ring on it with the help of this longtime respected South Jersey jeweler. Billig has a massive collection of engagement rings, from brands like Zeghani, Michael M., Danhov and Scott Kay. Seal the deal with his-and-hers wedding bands, ranging from diamond-encrusted to simple gold varieties. Marlton, (856) 983-2300, BilligJewelers.com

UNIQUE JEWELERY
Haddonfield Fine Jewelers
From show stopping cocktail rings to yellow diamond earrings to geometric pendants, this Haddonfield shop—a reincarnation of the former Sam S. Yampell Jewelers—isn’t just defined by its top-notch jewelry selection; the staff is knowledgeable, helpful and truly committed to helping you select the perfect piece for that someone special. Haddonfield, (856) 427-4465, HaddonfieldJewelers.com

DESIGNER JEWELERY
David Arlen Jewelers
Sometimes, the brand name matters. Just ask David Arlen Jewelers in Hainesport, which carries top designers such as Simon G. and Pandora to Movado and Philip Stein—and a knowledgeable staff and impressive selection, to boot. Hainesport, (609) 914-0404, DavidArlen.com

WATCHES
Jay Roberts Jewelers
If you’re going to invest in a new watch, you want to make sure you’ve got the cream of the crop to pick from. Jay Roberts carries all the best designers, like Tag Heuer, Breitling, Cartier and Movado, brands with a reputation for success that will make you the envy of the board room. Marlton, (856) 596-8600, JayRobertsJewelers.com

TOY SHOP
Young Minds Toys
Founded on the belief that learning should be fun, Young Minds Toys is a store stocked with games, puzzles and toys that encourage children’s creativity and challenge their imagination. We love the broad range of categories, from arts and crafts to vintage collectibles, and there is even a section of the store dedicated to STEM for the future generation of engineers. Marlton, (856) 810-1122, YoungMindsToys.com

LIQUOR STORE
Hops and Grapes
They say variety is the spice of life, and at Hops and Grapes, where they offer an unprecedented selection of wine, liquor and beer—be sure to check out their craft assortment—you’ll be able to try something new every time you visit. And their cheese shop isn’t too shabby either. Glassboro, (856) 582-8110, HopsAndGrapesOnline.com

RUNNING GEAR
The Running Co.
If you’re familiar with the running scene, you know shoe companies change the designs of their shoes every year—hello, Mizuno Wave Rider 18. Even if you’re not, know that The Running Co. carries all the latest shoe styles—and running attire—and will even offer to fit you into the best shoe type for your feet. We guarantee one visit will make you the most current runner out there. Haddonfield, (856) 428-1666; Medford, (609) 451-5191; Moorestown, (856) 234-9371; Mullica Hill, (856) 223-9350; RunningCo.com

FLOWER SHOP
Brava Vita Flowers
Owned and operated by the D’Orazio family from 1974 to 1988, this shop was reopened by the original owner’s son two years ago with a new name that means “the good life.” Their stunning flowers and creative designs will spice up your wedding day or special event, or even earn you points at home as a surprise gift for your spouse. Washington Township, (856) 256-2020, BravaVitaFlowersAndGifts.com

CIGAR SHOP
Heritage Premium Cigar Shop
Tucked away in a shopping center off the beaten path is this cigar-lovers’ paradise. You’ll find all your favorite sticks from Ashton, Padron, Fuente and many more, but we recommend becoming a member to enjoy their slick lounge where you can chop it up with other aficionados while seated in plush leather chairs watching the game on the big screen. Marlton, (856) 988-7665, HeritagePremiumCigars.com

 

HEALTH & BEAUTY

HAIRCUT
Thriv
When you’re looking for an edgy haircut to change up your ho-hum routine, not just any salon will do. When we’re looking for a change, we head over to Thriv, where in the capable hands of any of the stylists, we get the perfect cut that makes a bold statement to everyone we see. Cherry Hill, (856) 751-0014, ThrivSalon.com

MASSAGE
Tranquility Spa
We don’t know about you, but there’s nothing we look forward to more than a relaxing aromatherapy massage after a tough week at work. Even better, at Tranquility Spa, you can choose which essential oils the masseuse utilizes during the massage, so whether you’re stressed, tired or suffering from anxiety, there is an oil that will help soothe and caress your problems away. Hainesport, (609) 267-5600; Voorhees, (856) 809-9410, TranquilitySalon.com

PEDICURE
The Manor
The Manor may be a full-service salon and spa offering haircuts and coloring from some of the top stylists in the area, but when it comes to pedicures, we won’t go anywhere else. Its private room with massaging chairs provides the perfect relaxing atmosphere we’re looking for when we just need an afternoon to pamper ourselves, and our feet. Mantua, (856) 468-8822, ManorSalonAndSpa.com

FACIALS
Suede Salon
The facial packages here are the epitome of luxury, and leave you feeling refreshed and totally rejuvenated. There are around 15 varieties to choose from—including a gentleman’s treatment and anti-acne treatment—but we flip for the hydrafacial, which exfoliates and rehydrates the skin with state-of-the-art tools. Marlton, (856) 985-0700, SuedeSalonSpa.com

COLORING
Martino Cartier Salon
With its namesake celebrity stylist at the helm, this salon prides itself in giving clients the best color for them. Whether you want subtle highlights or lowlights, an all over change from blonde to brunette or an on-trend ombré look, the professional stylists at this salon will guide you through the coloring process and have you on fleek when you walk out the door. Cherry Hill, (856) 520-8777; Washington Township, (856) 582-6600, MartinoCartier.com

MAKEUP
Head Candy Salon
For the average person, doing your own makeup can be hit or miss. That’s why we trust the experts at Head Candy Salon to give us a fresh look with flawless foundation, knockout red lips and dramatic lashes that automatically puts us in a good mood. All we need now is a date for drinks and dancing. Any takers? Cherry Hill, (856) 751-4247, SalonHeadCandy.com

BLOWOUT
Verde Salon
We’ve yet to find a better way to treat ourselves than with a glamorous blowout, and when we’re looking to get locks that turn heads we go for Verde’s Express Blowout. You’ll leave with silky, sexy hair that you just need to show off—so be sure to make plans for a great night out. Collingswood, (856) 858-0911, VerdeSalon.com

BARBERSHOP
Timmons Barber Shop
Timmons is undoubtedly one of the most beloved barbershops in Gloucester County, and even clients who move away from Washington Township make their way back for the welcoming staff and hot towels that come with every haircut. Mary, Leigh and the rest of the staff will send all of your family members out looking their finest. Washington Township, (856) 218-0700

YOGA
Shine Power Yoga
Heated yoga is a trend that’s here to stay, and Shine has embraced it with their 96-degree rooms by adding just a bit of extra humidity, so you leave your class with a bit of a shine—see what we did there? There’s even a special kids classroom, which gives your little one the chance to stretch like Mom or Dad in a healthy and safe setting. Maple Shade, (856) 793-5311, ShinePowerYoga.com

SPINNING
Upcycle Collingswood
This Collingswood spin spot is still young, but is already drawing crowds with their fun and unique class options. Of course there’s the classic 60-minute sessions, but then you can mix things up with 45-minute “quickie” classes, or have some fun with monthly classes like their Bikes and Brunch, Gears and Beers and Candlelit Cycle class. Collingswood, (856) 477-2724, UpcycleNJ.com

WORKOUT
Smart Bodies
The trainers at Smart Bodies are not only invested in each half-hour session, but your overall long-term goals as well. Workout regimens are customized to your abilities and desires and no two sessions are ever the same thanks to a calculated mix of cardio and weight training that helps your body maximize its potential. You’ll be motivated to push yourself and test your limits, but the results you get will make any pain a little more tolerable. Marlton, (856) 983-2625, SmartBodiesFitness.com

FITNESS CLASSES
Future Fitness
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or you’re just getting your feet wet in the conditioning world, Future Fitness has a class for you. From the ever-popular Zumba dance class to the booty-busting boot camp, they offer classes seven days a week for every ability level, so all your excuses about not being able to stay in shape just went out the window. Multiple locations, FutureFitnessCenters.com

GYM FOR KIDS
The Little Gym
Your kids will love the outgoing staff, the chance to interact with other children their age and exciting activities like gymnastics, dance and karate. You’ll appreciate an hour to yourself on a hectic day. Multiple locations, TheLittleGym.com

DAY SPA
Vir Tú
Pampering yourself never felt as good as it does here. Massages, facials, mani-pedis—even a blow-dry bar—are all on the menu with an array of ways to personalize each one to your body and skin. It’s easy to lose yourself in the moment, but that is what a great spa does. And their menu of on-the-go services mean you can get rejuvenated on your lunch break when the grind at the office is wearing you down. Moorestown, (856) 291-8700; Washington Township, (856) 341-8460, VirTu4U.com

LIFESTYLE

TEEN PARTY VENUE
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Sure your little ones love a good bouncy house, but there’s no way your teenager is getting in that inflatable castle. No worries, head to this indoor trampoline park where they can jump high in the sky and flip, twist and spin themselves into a pit of foam cubes. Trust us, this place will have them jumping for joy and you’ll forever be the cool parents. Maple Shade, (856) 235-4411, SkyZone.com

THEATER GROUP
The Ritz Theatre Co.
This group of skilled performers brings some of the most recognizable (and diverse) shows to its historic stage, giving theatergoers a lasting experience unrivaled in South Jersey. They also work to engage the local community with assorted workshops and educational programs in an effort to spur creativity and perhaps find the next big name in lights. Oaklyn, (856) 858-5230, RitzTheatreCo.org

FESTIVAL
Heritage Wine Festival
If you’re the wine-sampling, food-truck-fare-eating, craft-shopping, music-loving sort, the Heritage Wine Festival is for you. This event has become an annual affair at Heritage thanks to its popularity, and it’s no wonder, with so much to offer. New this year, they’re allowing attendees to reserve space for tents so you can enjoy the day in the shade—just be sure to get your tickets soon because they sell out fast. Mullica Hill, (856) 589-4474, HeritageWineNJ.com

KIDS’ PARTY VENUE
Tilt Studios
For kids and the kids at heart, Tilt Studios offers a variety of indoor entertainment in its 20,000-square-foot facility, including arcade games, mini-golf, a ball pit and much more. Available for those parents looking to get the kids out of the house for an afternoon, as well as for birthday parties and group events, we’d take any excuse to get over to Tilt and take advantage of all it has to offer. Voorhees, (856) 782-6572, TiltStudio.com/Voorhees-NJ

DANCE CLASSES
Arthur Murray
If your significant other would rather dance alone than be caught dancing with you, then it’s time to take your two left feet to school. The atmosphere here is friendly and the instructors are knowledgeable and patient, no matter how many times you stumble. After a few lessons you’ll realize you’re actually having fun. Marlton, (856) 396-2490, NJArthurMurray.com

DOG PARK
Timber Creek
A day at Timber Creek Dog Park is to dogs what a day at Disney World is to kids. It’s nine acres of fully fenced canine paradise where your dog can sniff to their heart’s content while running the wooded trails and socializing with other playmates. There is even access to a lake for cooling off or practicing that doggie paddle. Blackwood, (856) 216-2117, CamdenCounty.com

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
Painting with a Twist
A night out with the girls almost always involves wine, and this BYOB spot in Haddonfield is adding another element into the mix: painting. There’s no experience needed, so don’t be shy! Gather your friends, a couple bottles of pinot grigio and get ready to let your inner artist shine as you create a unique piece of art you can take home. Haddonfield, (856) 375-2104, PaintingWithATwist.com

ACTIVITY CENTER
Katz JCC
Parents know the hardships of finding activities that will keep all the kids happy. Fortunately, the Katz JCC offers something for everyone under one roof. From the indoor and outdoor pools, sports fields and the Imaginarium play structure, to karate and computers, kids will never get bored. But don’t forget about yourselves, Mom and Dad. While the kids play, take a spin, Zumba or yoga class or sit back and enjoy the sauna uninterrupted. Cherry Hill, (856) 424-4444, KatzJCC.org

DOGGIE DAYCARE
Camp Bow Wow
With camp-inspired décor, indoor and outdoor play yards, counselor-monitored playtime—and best of all, live streaming video of the play yards and some cabins, available via the national chain’s smartphone app or desktop computer—Camp Bow Wow is an overzealous dog owner’s dream. They also offer overnight boarding. Cherry Hill, (856) 651-9663, CampBowWow.com

GOLF DEAL
Scotland Run Par ‘N’ Bar
Every Friday evening in the summer, one of the area’s most stunning courses offers nine holes of golf, draft beer and an all-you-can-eat buffet for just $53.50. Located on an outside patio overlooking the course, the spread includes Southern fried chicken, mussels in garlic and white wine sauce, sausage and peppers and a different chef’s specialty each week. The food and the views are so good, you won’t even care what your scorecard says. Williamstown, (856) 863-3737, ScotlandRun.com

Best of the Best Readers' Choice 2015

BYOB
Illiano Cucina Mediterranea,
Medford

NEW RESTAURANT
Estia Taverna,
Marlton

CANDY/CHOCOLATES
Reily’s Candy,
Medford

HAPPY HOUR
Redstone,
Marlton

HIBACHI
Yokohama,
Maple Shade

ICE CREAM
Daddy-O’s,
Marlton

ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Nunzio’s Ristorante Rustico,
Collingswood

LUNCH
Da Soli,
Haddonfield

MEXICAN RESTAURANT
La Esperanza,
Lindenwold

PASTRY SHOP/BAKERY
Classic Cake,
Cherry Hill

ENTREES
ChopHouse,
Gibbsboro

SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
L’Oceano,
Collingswood

SOUP
Angelo’s Pizza,
Berlin

STEAKHOUSE
Library IV,
Williamstown

SUSHI
Megu,
Cherry Hill & Moorestown

WINE LIST
Caffe Aldo Lamberti,
Cherry Hill

LIQUOR STORE
Traino’s,
Marlton & Voorhees

ACCESSORY SHOP
La-Di-Da,
Moorestown

CARD/GIFT SHOP
Refined on Main,
Medford

CHILDREN’S BOUTIQUE
Ragamuffins,
Cherry Hill

JEWELRY
Morton & Rudolph,
Cherry Hill

FLORIST
Moorestown Flower Shoppe,
Moorestown

FRAME SHOP
Accent Studio,
Cherry Hill

SHOPPING DESTINATION
The Promenade,
Marlton

MEN’S CLOTHING, FORMAL
Rochester Formal Wear,
Maple Shade

PROM WEAR
Ideal Fashions,
Glassboro

WATCH SELECTION
Gerace Jewelers,
Runnemede

WOMEN’S CLOTHING, CASUAL
Anthropologie,
Marlton

WOMEN’S CLOTHING, FORMAL
Fashions by Penina,
Marlton

COCKTAIL DRESSES
Marlene’s Dress Shoppe,
Collingswood

HAIR COLORING
Salon Christopher Angelastro,
Sewell

HAIR STYLING
Rizzieri,
Moorestown & Washington Township

MAKEUP
Christopher Moore Salon,
Sewell

PERMANENT MAKEUP
Beau Institute,
Mount Laurel

MANICURE/PEDICURE
Scruples by Donnarose,
Marlton

MEDICAL SPA
Anu Medical Spa,
Voorhees

SPA
The Skin Spa at Davis Cosmetic Plastic Surgery,
Cherry Hill

YOGA
Pilates Plus Restoration Studio,
Marlton

RECEPTION VENUE
Camden County Boathouse,
Pennsauken

MINIATURE GOLF
Pleasant Valley Miniature Golf Club,
Voorhees

KIDS’ PARTY VENUE
Funplex,
Mount Laurel

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 4 (July, 2015).
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