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Maplewood

New York Times: Maplewood, NJ: If Brooklyn Were a Suburb

Hailed by the New York Times as a Norman Rockwellesque town, Maplewood is a cosmopolitan community with an artistic sensibility and historic architecture. A recent New York Times piece entitled “Maplewood, N.J.: If Brooklyn Were a Suburb” described Maplewood as, “Brooklyn West. That’s how many of the residents of Maplewood think of their town, especially those who have followed the typical migration pattern of moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn to Maplewood, which they see as an extension of the hip, cultured, community-involved lifestyle they’d grown accustomed to in New York.”

Maplewood was named among the “Best Places to Live” in the United States by Money Magazine which declared, “A 30-minute train ride from midtown Manhattan, Maplewood, N.J. is a favorite compromise for city people who also want good public schools, affordable homes, and their own yards.” With a population of roughly 24,000, Maplewood enjoys small town charm with all the modern conveniences. The housing stock in Maplewood varies from modest cottages, to center hall and side hall colonials, tudors, and the occasional victorian, most built in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Prices range from the $300K’s to roughly $1.8M. Maplewood also has a jitney service with jitney stops all around Maplewood that run in the morning and rush hour/early evenings to and from the Maplewood Train Station, which offers mid-town direct service to NY Penn Station.

Maplewood and South Orange are sister towns and share a school district as well as several municipal services. There are three libraries in the two towns – plus a borrowing agreement with universities and other libraries. Both towns have community pools, public and private tennis courts, basketball courts, numerous playgrounds, and the Maplewood Country Club has a pool plus a private golf course. In the summer, two Farmer’s Markets, one on Springfield Ave. in Maplewood, the other in the train station parking lot in South Orange, offer the best in NJ’s fresh produce and flowers. Maplewood is also home to Maplewoodstock, a summer music festival, as well as a huge 4th of July celebration complete with a big top circus and fireworks. Nearly 30 neighborhood associations preserve “over the back fence” neighborliness and community.

Some of my favorite restaurants in Maplewood are Verjus where owner Jane makes you feel right at home with fine French dining and reasonable prices; Arturos’s, where Dan makes some fine brick oven pizza, and since his restaurant has been reviewed in the New York Times, it’s hard to get a table, but take out is always an excellent option; Sona, a fabulous Indian food restaurant, rivals some of the best places on East 6th St. in NYC; Mt. Fuji (formerly Samurai Sushi) serves the best sushi; Coda is a family favorite offering small plates (love the sliders) as well as an extensive menu and full bar, plus a great Thursday happy hour menu; St. James Gate serves great burgers and pub chips; Roman Gourmet, a family owned pizzeria is the best for slices and they make a mean pesto with fresh mozzarella thin crust; And I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to Steve, owner and chef of the Maple Leaf Diner, who makes the best spanakopita. They also serve great breakfast specials. New faves to town include The Cassidy, Sabatino’s Pizza on Valley St., and coming soon are Ani Ramen House, and another restaurant brought to you by the owners of Lorena’s, which was chosen as one of three New Jersey restaurants honored among the best 100 in the country by OpenTable.com.