BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE

Middlesex County is home to two shopping malls along U.S. Route 1 Woodbridge Center and Menlo Park (we recall when Menlo was one level, roofless, and one of the first newfangled indoor multi retail destinations in the state). The larger cities of Edison and Woodbridge grab the spotlight, but nestled in between is this thriving borough, where locals revel in their shops and bustling dining scene. Recently named the county’s most affluent town, and now deemed a New Jersey Transit Village, the New York Times called it a “doughnut hole with a storied past and new development.” Discover its secrets with our top picks, and see even more at downtownmetuchen.org.

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Things to do LET’S GO!
CENTENNIAL PARK
The largest natural open space in Metuchen covers 13 acres and includes Beacon Hill, the borough’s highest point. Enjoy passive recreation and native plants and animals along walking trails. metuchennj.org

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FORUM THEATRE
This 450 seat cultural arts hub opened in the 1920s Vaudeville era eventually showing movies until 1983 when it became a regional theater presenting concerts, productions, and children’s shows. 314 Main St., 732.742.7217, forumarts.com

MIDDLESEX GREENWAY
The 3.5 mile, ten foot wide asphalt Rail Trail is situated on a historic portion of the Lehigh Valley rail corridor and runs from Middlesex Ave. in Metuchen to Crows Mill Rd. in Woodbridge. Visitors can bike, hike, in line skate, and enjoy cross country skiing when it snows. Wheelchair accessible. middlesexcountynj.gov

Caddy Spread

SPORTSPLEX OF METUCHEN
Large indoor recreation facility with courts and fields for soccer, basketball, and baseball. Youth and adult leagues and programs, open gym, parties, and events. 215 Durham Ave., 732.494.3000, sportsplexatmetuchen.com

THOMAS EDISON CENTER AT MENLO PARK
The center honors the memory of inventor Thomas Alva Edison, “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” Located in Edison Township within Edison State Park, the facility consists of the Art Deco Edison Memorial Tower and a museum and education center jointly administered by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks & Forestry, the Township of Edison, and the nonprofit Edison Memorial Tower Corporation. 37 Christie St., 732.549.3299, menloparkmuseum.org

Shop ‘TIL YOU DROP
CACHET BOUTIQUE
Women’s contemporary clothing store from a New York fashion industry veteran carrying specialty lines and accessories. 398 Main St., 908.285.0554, cachetmetuchen.com

GENUS BONI
Toys, games, models, puzzles, handicrafts, tea service items, and more. 432 Main St., 732.515.9257, genusboni.com

LEONARDO JEWELERS
The family owned legend began in 1964 in Elizabeth, Union County, where Leonardo Zeik opened his first store. Forging relationships with European goldsmiths, diamond cutters, and gem dealers, he began an international journey a quest for excellence that continues with his descendants today. Second location in Red Bank. 65 Middlesex Ave., 732.549.7880, leonardojewelers.com

LOLLIPOP LAND
Large assortment of candy items, from retro to trendy. Creative custom baskets, candy corsages, lollipop “topiaries,” and gifts for all occasions. 19 New St., 732.372.7628, lollipoplandusa.com

RUNNER’S HIGH
Specialty running shop with gear and training for all ability levels. 454 Main St., 732.549.9440, runnershighnj.com

STAGE COACH
Antiques, gifts, estate sales, vintage and handmade items, home cleanouts, and staging consultations. 212 Main St., 848.260.0909, stagecoachmetuchennj.com

THE BRASS LANTERN
“Old World charm” describes this genteel gift shop offering a wide range of personal, gift, and décor items. 418 Main St., 732.548.5442, brasslanternstore.com

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THE JEWEL SHOP
Waterford, repairs, gifts, and accessories since 1945. 436 Main St., 732.549.1490, Facebook

Dining DIG IN!
BISHOP’S BISTRO
Perfect plating and Southern delicacies, served with panache, mark this tasty venue from the Bishop family, honoring recipes from their grandma’s North Carolina kitchen. 7 New St., 732.549.0759, bishopbistro.business.site

BREWED AWAKENING
Breakfast all day, lunch, and dinner. 417 Main St., 732.744.9700, brewedawakening417.com

CAI’S
“Metuchen’s Living Room” received a 2016 Business Champion Award and was named 2017 Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Coffee, tea, specialty beverages, wine, light bites, and live music. 420 Main St., 732.243.9925, caiscafe.com

FUSHA ASIAN BISTRO & SUSHI
A minus 60 degree “super freezer” ensures eating fresh fish at this atmospheric eatery that also offers hibachi, wok, grill, and fusion dishes. 452 Main St., 848.260.0777, fushametuchen.com

HAILEY’S HARP & PUB
A true Irish pub with an intriguing menu, special events, and live music. Hailey’s Harp cade, a retro arcade space, is in the rear. 400 Main St., 732.321.0777, haileysharpandpub.com

LOLA LATIN BISTRO
Authentic and fresh ingredients indigenous to Latin cooking permeate traditional dishes here made with an innovative American contemporary take. Colorful Latin ambiance and lucious desserts, too. 2018 Reader’s Choice Winner for Cuban Food. 87 Central Ave., 732.548.5652. lolalatinbistro.com

MANGIA TOSCANO
Authentic Tuscan dining and baked goods one block from the train station. 422 Main St., 732.744.0100, mangiatoscanonj.com

MARIACHI MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Custom carved wood chairs, each depicting a different theme, set the stage at this cheerful eatery adorned with vibrant art and serving authentic Mexican dishes. 413 Main St., 732.243.9851, mariachirest.com

METUCHEN INN
Destination fine dining in an 1843 historic landmark. Craft cocktails, New American contemporary cuisine, a lively bar with a floor to ceiling window, fireplace, and outdoor dining in season. Readers’ Choice Award winner. 424 Middlesex Ave., 732.494.6444, metucheninn.net

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NOVITA BISTRO & LOUNGE
“Worth it” says the New York Times of this Italian fine dining spot, whose name translates to “something new.” Live music Wednesday through Saturday. Wine Spectator Excellence Award winner. 25 New St., 732.549.5306, novitanj.com

PHATTRA THAI
The “ultimate Thai experience” in authentic food and décor awaits at 426 Main St., 732.5159333, phattrathai.com

PINK LOTUS
After nine years at the acclaimed Yao’s Chinese in Skillman, the same owner has opened “a little gem” in Metuchen to more rave reviews. 435 Main St., 732.321.5201, pinklotusrestaurant.com

SUSHI SUZUKI
Here, fresh fish transforms into artistic, tantalizing morsels of sushi and sashimi. Chef/ Owner Dee san did his culinary research in Japan and worked in Manhattan prior to opening his own venue. 15 New St., 732.767.6688, sushisuzuki.com

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THE CAFÉ PARIS
Owned by a French family paying homage to their homeland with authentic, fresh, healthy offerings. Second location in Cranford. 439 Main St., 732.603.9200, thecafeparis.com

THE GREEK ON MAIN
Seafood and other traditional Mediterranean dishes, infused with modern flavors by a chef/ owner from central Greece, shine at this pleasant corner spot. “Best Of” and Diners’ Choice Award winner. 419 Main St., 732.515.9457, thegreekonmain.com

TORINO 2
Quaint family owned BYO serving fresh, organic Northern Italian cuisine. Live entertainment. Original location in Staten Island. 12 New St., 732.549.2500, torinorestaurants.com

ORCHID GLATT KOSHER
Gourmet versions of deli favorites to authentic Mediterranean classics. 455 Main St., 732.321.9829, theorchidkosher.com

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Lights Out WHERE TO STAY
Given its location near Interstate Route 1 and the Raritan Convention Center, Metuchen is surrounded by a variety of hotels and motels. Some highlights:

COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT EDISON/WOODBRIDGE
3105 Woodbridge Ave., Edison, 732.738.1991, marriott.com

CROWNE PLAZA EDISON
2055 Lincoln Hwy, Edison, 732.287.3500, ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES
875 New Durham Rd., Edison, 732.650.0011, marriott.com

RENAISSANCE WOODBRIDGE
515 Rt. 1, Iselin, 732.634.3600, marriott.com

SHERATON EDISON HOTEL RARITAN CENTER
125 Raritan Center Pkwy., Edison, 732.225.8300, marriott.com I