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N.J.'s best bars, final round: It's Pete Genovese Day at Verve, Somerville

Apparently of the belief that t-shirts and beer glasses with my face and name on them -- souvenirs of our initial visit -- were not enough, the folks at Verve in Somerville last night pulled out all the stops in their attempt to convince the head judge their bar is New Jersey's best.

Cookies from The Dessert Plate -- and a beer tap handle -- with my face on them?


A desk plaque engraved with the words "Pete's Corner''?


But a proclamation read by Mayor Brian Gallagher at the bar proclaiming yesterday Pete Genovese Day? "Whereas, Pete Genovese is the admiral of the well-known Munchmobile and has had a significant impact on the dining habits and waistlines of most New Jerseyans . . '' the document read. I'll spare you the rest, but I liked the part about Somerville being "the center of the universe.'' Let the record show that we're not picking the grand prize winner in our N.J.'s best bar showdown on the basis on its reception party, but the warm welcome came as therapeutic relief on a nasty weather day; it took a mere two hours to get to our next stop, in Rumson. "I've been in town for 37 years and have been coming here since he opened,'' Tom Miller said of Verve owner Rick St. Pierre.

Rick St.Pierre Pete Genovese

The bar/restaurant - don't forget to visit the way-cool upstairs lounge on weekends - was packed and pulsing, with patrons trying a new drink no doubt destined to put Somerville at the center of the cocktail universe - the Pedro Genovese, with tequila, vanilla syrup, Neshaminy Creek Trauger pilsner, fresh lemon juice and a Malbec. Beer cocktails, according to Pedro's creator, bartender Bryan Mack, "are crazy popular.'' JoAnn Lindenstruth, Rick's mom, told me she was breathless when she told her son Verve had been selected as one of the ten finalists. "Not only couldn't I breathe, he told me, 'calm down, you're going to have a heart attack,' '' she said, laughing.

Reasons they could win it all: Stylish but not stuffy bar/restaurant with eclectic crowd. Upstairs lounge is one of N.J.'s great little hideaways. Expert bartenders not afraid to push the cocktail envelope. Good food. Don't forget you can vote for your favorite bar until 6 p.m. Monday, March 9.

Follow the "Food Dude" on his adventure to find the best bars in NJ!

N.J.'s best bars: T-shirts, crowd chants and crafty cocktails in Somerville

So some bar-hopping, bald-headed guy walks into a Somerville restaurant/cocktail lounge and finds . . . T-shirts with his face and the words "The Judge. The Jury'' being handed out to patrons. The highlight, or lowlight, of my career (Peter Genovese I NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) Peter Genovese | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com "This is the place to be in Somerville,'' says Rich Reitman, sitting at the bar in Verve. It's a cozy, comfortable, stylish, but not stuffy restaurant/lounge right across the street from the courthouse, and how I've never managed to find myself in here at least once in the last 18 years I don't know. But better late than ever, and owner Rick St. Pierre and patrons pulled out all the stops in an effort to make a name for themselves in our N.J.'s best bars showdown. One must here: a drink from the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders. The tall guy with the kitschy white-framed glasses is Bryan Mack, who made his Carlos Slim cocktail in a recent nationwide bartender competition. READ MORE


Situated in the heart of downtown somerville, NJ

Our restaurant is known for the quality of our butcher aged steaks and sushi grade fish. Our creative menu offers a variety of bistro dishes prepared with the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients.

Our provencial country style is grounded with slow cooked flavors, presenting a creatively prepared dish for every palette. To enhance you experience we offer carefully selected bistro wines from our cellar, European and domestic beers and fashionable martinis and cocktails.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, visit our Soho inspired upstairs lounge for cocktails, parties and special events or enjoy eclectic music in our historic landmark bar, the very spot where the first drink was served in Somerville NJ after Prohibition.