Miss eating inside restaurant dining rooms? It is (legally) possible to do it in Princeton right now — despite the restrictions placed on restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Roots Ocean Prime, the surf-and-turf restaurant in Princeton’s old train station complex, reopened last Thursday for lunch and dinner and, thanks to Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent decree, for both indoor and outdoor dining.
Murphy signed an executive order on July 8 allowing bars and restaurants to serve patrons indoors if they can open at least 50% of their walls to the outside. Observers saw this as a means of allowing bars and restaurants along the Jersey shore to start doing business again, since many of them have open-wall designs to take advantage of warm summer weather at the beach.
But Roots Ocean Prime, located in the old Princeton train station complex, can open 70% of its walls to the outside, says general manager Chris DeLuca, meaning it can offer guests an experience that most have not had in months.
“We’re in a lot better position than a lot of restaurants,” DeLuca says. “We have these big round booths that we’ve turned around, so it’s like one big patio looking out. It’s really nice.”
Between the indoor tables and 9 tables on the patio with umbrellas, Roots has about 20 tables available for seating — and DeLuca says that all 20 were taken at one point last Saturday.
“Response has been great. All our reviews we have received through our reservation system have been extremely positive,” he says. “People love the fact that that main dining room is like a breezeway now.”
The restaurant is open for curbside pickup and delivery as well as indoor dining. Lunch is served Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4. Dinner is available Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m.
DeLuca says Roots is serving nearly its full menu for lunch and dinner, with only a few of its more labor-intensive dishes temporarily removed. Updated menus are available online.
Roots Ocean Prime is a restaurant in the Harvest Restaurant Group, which also owns Agricola Eatery on Witherspoon Street as well as a number of restaurants farther north in New Jersey.
Roots Ocean Prime, 98 University Place, Princeton NJ 08540. Phone (609) 772-4934.