Newport yuppies are going to have to put their Prada loafers on and venture a few blocks inland for the good stuff! Take a tip from an old timer and get to know the neighborhood. My favorite part of eating out is seeing people and interacting with them so my choices are first and foremost FRIENDLY.
I wait all year for the feast at Holy Rosary. (Mid July- Feast of Saint Rocco) Everyone's welcome--even non-believers like me. All the neighborhood grandmothers cook rice balls, homemade pizza and outrageous desserts. There's a bar in the yard behind the church, gambling, karaoke, games, etc. They carry the statue through the streets etc. like San Gennaro probably was 100 years ago. Don't miss it--it's the real deal.
Good cheap French cafe: Madame Claude's on the corner of 4th St & Brunswick (visible from Newark Ave). They have crepes, sandwiches, quiches, and a few hearty plates. Their creme brulee is the best ever. Love the pate platter. BYOB. The friendliest French staff on earth! A non-smoking cafe (rare for Jersey City.) Outdoor tables in summer.
Really good Italian deli: Lombardi's. On Newark near Monmouth St. What tasty stuff!!! every bit as good as Mulberry St. Also a nice staff who love to chat about their food, neighborhood history, etc.
My favorites: Chicken & Portobello Lasagna. Rich, creamy, and smokey. Ovalinas: stuffed mozzerella w/coldcuts, veggies, etc.
Stuffed artichoke hearts also zing. They have a brick oven for gourmet pizza. Their cheeses, coldcuts and baked goods are top notch. Best of all: they're open until 10pm and they deliver!
The Monmouth Deli on Monmouth & Pavonia is also very good Italian, but they're only open for lunch. I see their moms there every morning cooking up a storm! Go by at lunch time and see the cops and firemen lined up outside for their sandwiches and pasta.
Wonderful Japanese food at Komegashi on Montgomery Street @ Warren. The Yaki bar is great and their salmon is wild. Service is friendly and efficient. Huge sake list. They've been in the neighborhood for many years for good reason. Komegashi II at Newport is also good, but for some reason the original is just a little bit better. Both places are on the Web and deliver. Also check out their yummy lunch boxes.
Italian Bakery: Peccoraro's on Newark. Get up early on Saturday morning and enjoy delicious bread.
There are some other places with tasty food: Baja on Montgomery for Mexican with some original twists, Lucy's Cafe for Puerto Rican lunch on 7th Street. (Try the beef stew)
Cafe Spice for northern Indian on Washington, and Coletta's on 2nd near Coles in it's newest incarnation.
Coletta's has a somewhat boring menu, but they make plain old continental and soulfood dishes quite well. The service is always enthusiastic and Cathy, the owner is always on hand to make sure you're happy. Mostly we go there to be treated well rather than to eat adventerously. Also all the other patrons talk to you--a real Jersey City joint!
None of the places mentioned would probably cost more than $20 per person w/o booze except Cafe Spice.