by Barbara L. Rothschild


The Ideal Restaurant, which was at first in the Old Third Ward, I recall it was on a corner, but can't recall whether it was on Prince, Spruce, or Springfield Avenue. Later on, the New Ideal Restaurant was relocated to Clinton Avenue, and it was also called the vegetarian restaurant. It was also situated right next door to a Chinese Restaurant, called Fong's, and a florist, simply called Rose Florists,( most of our flowers, wedding, funeral arrangements, and prom corsages came from Rose Florists!)

Another FANTASTIC Chinese restaurant was called Ming's Chinese Restaurant, a large restaurant, located directly on the corner of Lyons Avenue and Clinton Place . It was across the street from Beth Israel Hospital, and many a doctor, nurse, or young intern enjoyed takeout there! My grammar school graduation luncheon was held there, and it was also the sight for many a "Sweet Sixteen" party. It was (for its time), a pretty "fancy" restaurant, and a favorite place also for romantic or simply dating rendezvous.

Also, how can anyone forget the DELICIOUSLY decadent (and costly, for its time), Italian dinners, at the great Vesuvius Restaurant, complete with strolling musicians and mandolin players? I do not recall the direct address, somewhere near Bloomfield Avenue. It existed as late as the 70's, but I do not know if it still exists. My half-brother proposed marriage to his late wife there, it was that romantic a setting!

You gave me a smile with the Chinese restaurant you listed as the Canton Gardens on Mulberry Street....we used to have a Sunday afternoon ritual of take out of Chop Suey and Wonton Soup from there. It was by then (1950's) considered part of Newark's Skid Row, so usually you hurried in and right out to a waiting car with your order, so you would not be bothered by panhandling alcoholics, who used to just loiter there, waiting for hapless "victims", in order to "clean" your car windows with some filthy rag. I recall sitting in the back seat of my brother's car, engine running, doors locked, with mom waiting in the front seat, and being frightened and repulsed by these downtrodden individuals. My brother would come out of Canton Gardens, walking in a very clipped pace, in order to get into the car quickly, so we could depart hastily from that area, to get our food back home.

I also mentioned Fong's Restaurant above. Incidentally, my family and I never returned there to eat, after one fine Saturday, going there for lunch, I found a GIANT COCKROACH (!) floating in my Wonton soup!! My father was never a "believer" in Chinese food.....he used to say that the Chinese cooked with cat/rat meat, in China. Boy, I can only imagine what he would have to say about the current SARS epidemic in China, allegedly purported to come from eating Civet CATS, a grand delicacy there!!!!!!!


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