Every year, the James Beard Foundation, a culinary organization in honor of the “Dean of American Cookery” James Beard, gives out awards to recognize the best chefs, restaurants, and culinary journalists and authors.

They recently announced the 2024 semifinalists and New Jersey made the list of nominations.

Two New Jersey chefs were nominated for “Best Chef” in the Mid-Atlantic which covers the region of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Dane DeMarco of Gass & Main in Haddonfield

Nur-E Gulshan Rahman of Korai Kitchen in Jersey City

And one restaurant that is brand new to the Garden State has taken off and is nominated for “Best New Restaurant” which makes it the best new restaurant in New Jersey as it’s accompanied by places in other states.

If you are ever driving on Rt. 34 in Aberdeen and come across a strip mall next to the AMF Strathmore Lanes bowling alley, you’ll stumble upon a little restaurant called Lita.

But don’t let that fool you. This Central Jersey spot is home to some high-end Portuguese/Spanish food.

The owners, Neilly Robinson and Chef David Viana, are also the owners of Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge and Heirloom at The St Laurent in Asbury Park.

Lita isn’t even a year old and before this James Beard nomination, they were named one of the “Best New Restaurants” in America by Esquire for 2023.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Chef David Viana said the concept for this restaurant came out of the pandemic when he was stuck at home every day. He felt nostalgic for the food that his grandmother used to make.

The restaurant is named after his mother, Rosa Lita.

Just from the pictures alone, the atmosphere looks cozy and the food looks delicious.

It’s a trip to Aberdeen that you will want to take.

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Gallery Credit: Dennis Malloy

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5's Morning Show Producer Kristen. Any opinions expressed are her own.

Questions, corrections, or comments? Send Producer Kristen an email at kristen.accardi@townsquaremedia.com or follow her on Instagram.

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