A few years ago, I was invited by one of my North Jersey friends to have dinner around the Christmas holiday at a classic New Jersey tavern.

I had never heard of the place, but he swore it was worth the hour-and-a-half drive from my house. It was! It is.

For people from Essex County and the Newark area, the Belmont Tavern is a well known spot for old-school Italian food and ambiance.

It's one of those quirky places where the bar is owned by one entity and the kitchen is run by another. Kim and her mother Annette, and her dad Norm, is the host.

The menu is simple and not too big, but the food is outstanding. It's a special treat at a Jersey classic that you just have to experience at least once in your life. Trust me, you'll be back.

Most nights it looks like you've walked into a casting call for a Soprano's sequel.

They don't take reservations and if you are lucky enough to get a seat at the bar to wait for your table, you're in for a treat.

The walls are lined with autographed pictures of celebrities that have visited the place. Clint Eastwood treated the cast to a dinner there following the filming of his movie version of 'Jersey Boys' a few years back.

If you're looking for something totally Jersey that you just don't find too often around here anymore, make a plan to head for the Belmont Tavern on Bloomfield Ave. in Bellville.

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