The Landmark in Livingston (259 West Mount Pleasant Avenue, 973-533-9787) is one of those Jersey restaurants that feels very familiar. Inside the seemingly small, red-shingled tavern with a white picket fence alongside Route 10, there is enough room for a full bar, wooden booths and tables, and a snug kitchen serving a solid bar food menu. The waitresses are friendly, the bartenders know people's names, and the locals are happy. You might have eaten there growing up. If you haven't been recently, it's time to go back.
Go for the pub-style burgers and bar-pie pizzas. Neither is the best available in New Jersey, but both are better than most. Burgers are the iconic American ethnic food. The Landmark's burger is recommended by many in the know around Essex County. The half-pound "Jersey Giant" burger is cooked to order with a slight crust, and served on a soft sesame seed bun. A little too much bun for my taste, but it's a very good blue-collar burger. Not too fancy, with plenty of toppings to choose from. My choice: jalapenos and cheddar cheese.
I didn't expect The Landmark's pizza to stand out. In fact, I was a bit scared when my daughter ordered a Cheeseburger Pizza. Normally, that kind of frou-frou pizza topping is forbidden in my family. To my pleasant surprise, The Landmark makes very good thin crust bar pies. They pass the fold test, are not too greasy, and the crust has some flavor. No char on the bottom, but altogether tasty. Don't tell anyone, but I like the Cheeseburger Pizza, essentially a regular cheese pie with little meatballs, and a hint of cheddar on top of the mozzarella and tomato sauce.
The Landmark is now on my list for the pizza, the burgers, and the classic Jersey atmosphere.
For more information on this restaurant, visit EthnicNJ.com.