State Theatre New Jersey brings Broadway to the Garden State

I had an amazing time seeing Jersey Boys at State Theatre New Jersey.

Seeing a production of Jersey Boys has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I thought I had missed my chance once it left Broadway. But lucky for me, the show about Belleville natives, The Four Seasons, made its New Jersey premiere this past weekend at the historic State Theatre New Jersey and kicked off the theatre’s Broadway Series. The Jersey girl in me could not pass up an opportunity to see this Tony award-winning show at the landmark New Brunswick venue.

Waiting for the doors to open.

Located right in the heart of downtown New Brunswick means you are able to grab a bite to eat beforehand at one of the city’s many fabulous cafes and restaurants, and after the show walk around its charming streets or grab a post-show nightcap. It also means you have the convenience of seeing a Broadway production right here at home, so you don’t have to sit in hours of traffic going into the city and you don’t have to spend a fortune on parking once you made it across the river. Strolling up to the 1,850 seat theatre, I was in awe of its magnificent beauty. The renovated 1921 silent-film house, was built as a grand movie palace in the heyday of vaudeville. After undergoing a $3 million restoration in December 2003, the theatre was returned — as closely as possible — to its original appearance.

The State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick.

Upon entering through the large wooden doors and into the lobby, one immediately feel as if they’ve been transported back to the golden age of theatre, with its lush red carpeting, gilded walls, and ornate detailing. After grabbing a drink at the elegant bar, I was ushered into the auditorium by a warm and gregarious attendant to my cozy, ruby-hued seat, where I again was awestruck by the venue’s splendid allure. Looking around the room at the sold-out venue, the other patron’s faces seemed just as enthralled as I was. The room then darkened, up the curtains went as the music began to crescendo, and the show began.

The magnificent ceiling inside the historic State Theatre New Jersey.

The Jersey Boys cast certainly deserved that riveting standing ovation. I loved the gritty ‘documentary’ style of the show, which told the story in four parts (by each member) of how a bunch of blue-collar boys from Belleville became Franki Valli and The Four Seasons, one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. The acting and singing was spectacular, and I was utterly blown away by the vocal range of Jonny Wexler, who portays Frankie Valli. They performed all the big hits including “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What a Night,” and “Walk like a Man.” I, like most of the audience, was bopping along and clapping as the boys busted out all of Frankie, Tommy, Bob, and Nick’s infamous moves and signature vocals. The actors did not miss a beat and they had the audience laughing, crying, singing and dancing. The show touched on just about every emotion.

The cast of Jersey Boys

It was such an honor to see Jersey Boys in my home state at such a historic and notable theatre. I had such a wonderful experience at State Theatre New Jersey, that I’m already planning my next visit.

The state’s second largest non-profit presenting hall has a diverse roster of entertainment, including international orchestras, Broadway, comedy, and family events. It has so many amazing shows coming up during its Broadway Series such as “The Sound of Music,” Dec. 22-24, “Cinderella,” Feb. 9-10, 2018, and “Motown The Musical,” March 23-25, 2018, “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder,” April 6-7, 2018, “The Wizard of Oz,” May 4-5, 2018 and “Cabaret,” May 18-19, 2018. Decisions, decisions.

Upcoming productions at State Theatre New Jersey.

Check out State Theatre’s website for a full list of upcoming shows and to purchase tickets.

Oh, what a night! ‘Jersey Boys’ kicks off State Theatre’s Broadway Season

Opening night of ‘Jersey Boys’ at the State Theatre buzzed with excitement. I was among the ticketholders who snapped a photo with a 1950s-era black Cadillac parked outside.

I grew up listening to “oldies” on the way home from “Down the Shore,” with my parents, every weekend. Frankie Valli felt like a family member, the way my Dad talked about him (they came from the same neighborhood). So, when the “Jersey Boys” musical was presented at the State Theatre in New Brunswick to kick off its 2017-18 Broadway Season, I was happy to go see it and reminisce a little.

The opening night on Oct. 13 buzzed with excitement outside of the State Theatre, which, majestically lit up, greeted the full house of ticket holders. Some in the crowd paused to glimpse VIPs walking the red carpet or checking out a 1950s-era black Cadillac parked outside. I definitely had to snap a picture in front. Then, with our tickets in hand, we entered through the grand doors.

The talented ‘Jersey Boys’ cast had the audience singing the night away to favorite tunes of The Four Seasons.

Every seat seemed to be a good one to really get to see the actors’ emotions and expressions. The show started with “Oh,What A Night,” a song I knew all the words to. The audience spent the night singing along as well to all the many hits of The Four Seasons. Just as the first act was ending, the tune “Dawn (Go Away)” started; being the namesake, I have always had an affinity for this song.

Looking around at the elegance of this magnificent playhouse, I realized how nice it was to have this so close to home. There was no long ride into the city or the hassle of parking. I could see a Broadway show right in my home state of New Jersey. It felt pretty awesome too, to sit in this historic landmark, which opened in 1921, originally as a grand movie palace. In fact, the State Theatre has been ranked No. 5 in the world for theaters 2,000 seats and under for the last 15 years by Venues Today.

‘Jersey Boys,’ the first presentation of the Broadway smash in the Garden State, was the first of seven offerings in the State Theatre’s 2017-18 Broadway Season.

During the show’s intermission, I flipped through the program and chatted with my friend to see what other plays were coming up next that we could come back and see. The State Theatre offers an orchestra series, dance, pop, rock, comedy, school and family appropriate performances, autism-friendly experiences, a chocolate-and-wine package and even a Thirty30 Club, which offers 30 percent off tickets to select shows to patrons who are under age 30.

Every seat at the State Theatre seemed to be a good one to really get to see the actors’ emotions and expressions.

“Jersey Boys” — the first presentation of the Broadway smash in the Garden State — was the first of seven offerings in the State Theatre’s 2017-18 Broadway Season. The other shows in the series are “The Sound of Music,” Dec. 22-24; “Cinderella,” Feb. 9-10; “Motown the Musical,” March 23-25; “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” April 6-7; “The Wizard of Oz,” May 4-5; and “Cabaret,” May 18-19. Since there are great restaurants New Brunswick, we said we’d do this again real soon.

More than two hours long, “Jersey Boys” was a hit as the audience rewarded the talented cast with a standing ovation. We headed over the stunning Heldridge Hotel across the street for the cast and crew after-party. Greeted with a selection of wine, we made our way into the room to mingle with special guests and some friends we knew. “Jersey Boys” songs played and guests hopped on the dance floor to show their moves. The music even got me out there, too! It was a great way to end the work week and have some fun.

Cocktail lessons for crisp nights

Sofia Tome

Our teacher at Liberty House, Oliver, was happy to share some tips for making craft cocktails.

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always loved school. Something about sitting in a classroom and learning something new makes me really excited. So much so that I eventually became a teacher myself  — first, a yoga instructor, then, a middle school English teacher. Professional development, calligraphy workshops, business panels, weaving courses, social media conferences; I take every opportunity to pick up a new skill. When the latest cocktail class at Liberty House in Jersey City opened up, I couldn’t wait to add one more to my arsenal.

Sofia Tome

A Hennessy-spiked Hot Toddy is Liberty House’s updated version of this classic cocktail.

While I have a real appreciation for craft cocktails, I certainly can’t make a fancy one to save my life! Luckily, our teacher, Oliver, was excited to show us his ways. From an introduction to all the tools of the trade (the shaker, strainer, jig, etc.) to a detailed lesson for each cocktail, he didn’t skip a beat.

Sofia Tome

The Moscow Mule is a traditional cocktail featuring hints of cranberry and apple.

Though Liberty House has an extensive list of house cocktails, the class focused on the fall specials: a cranberry/apple Moscow Mule and a Hennessy-spiked Hot Toddy. Starting with the Mule, we learned the importance of measuring each ingredient carefully — the key to consistently tasty drinks.

Sofia Tome

Though Liberty House has an extensive list of house cocktails, the class focused on its fall specials.

The Moscow Mule is a traditional cocktail, and one that is a go-to for me, so I was happy to learn a few new tricks. Oliver took the time to show us how to properly muddle fruits (muddled apples were key for this signature drink) and the importance of pouring the ginger beer and cocktail ingredients at the same time (it maximizes the blending of flavors). After watching his run-through, I was first up — and boy did that cocktail taste delicious!

Sofia Tome

Between cocktail demonstrations, we were served a perfectly balanced meat-and-cheese platter.

Between cocktail demonstrations, we were served a perfectly balanced meat-and-cheese platter. As we chatted and enjoyed our snacks, Oliver set us up for our final lesson.

Sofia Tome

From an introduction to all the tools of the trade to a detailed lesson for each drink, the cocktail class didn’t skip a beat.

A cold-weather favorite, the Hot Toddy has been around since 1786 — you may even have memories of your grandma sipping on one to ease a cold or to keep warm at the end of the night. Liberty House’s updated version of this classic cocktail calls for tea, a couple of cinnamon sticks, cloves and 2 ounces of Hennessy.

Sofia Tome

A cold-weather favorite, the Hot Toddy has been around since 1786 — you may even have memories of your grandma sipping on one.

As the evening came to an end, we enjoyed our warm beverages with a view of the city skyline — arguably, one of the best in town. Outside, the bonfires were going and in the air there was a feeling that summer was coming to a close. Crisp fall nights are just around the corner; I can’t wait to enjoy them with a cocktail in hand!

Sofia Tome

As the evening came to an end, we enjoyed our warm beverages with a view of the city skyline — arguably, one of the best in town.

A hint of Maine in the heart of Jersey City

Liberty House is a beautiful property in the even more beautiful Liberty State Park.

Lobster dinner with city views? Yes, please! Having just come from a trip to the mid-coast of Maine, this was the perfect way to ease out of vacation mode.

Liberty House is a beautiful property in the even more beautiful Liberty State Park. As we walked in, we were promptly escorted to a seat facing the New York City skyline. With views of both Liberty Tower and the Statue of Liberty, you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant in Jersey City with better views. The sky turned light shades of pink and an acoustic duo laid the soundtrack for the evening, starting with a pretty rendition of Pink Floyd.

Chilled Maine lobster cocktail.

Course by course, the lobster dinner unfolded starting with a chilled Maine lobster cocktail. Sprinkled with flake salt and paired with a bright pinot grigio, it was my favorite course of the meal.

The lobster scallop duet.

Second came a lobster scallop duet, perfectly grilled and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. This course was made more spectacular with a visit to the executive chef, Ken Trickilo, who graciously welcomed me into his kitchen. It was quite a scene as each dish was expertly plated. The energy was high — it was obvious that everyone took great pride in the food they were serving.

The third and final lobster dish was a fun play on surf-n-turf.

Dessert was a traditional lobster tail pastry.

The third and final lobster dish was a fun play on the surf-n-turf that we all know and love. And as no dinner is complete without dessert, we ended on a sweet note with a more traditional lobster tail pastry; a fancier take on the little Italy staple.

Dinner wound down and the table engaged in fun conversation — it felt as if we were sitting with a group of friends. The sun had set completely and the city skyline twinkled in the night. But, for a moment in time, right in the heart of Jersey City, we were transported to the coast of Maine.

For a great night out, head to Fort Lee

I was invited last night by NJ.com to cover the Fort Lee “Tuesdays on the Town” event, the last one of the season. To be honest, I’ve never been to Fort Lee before last night and really did not know what to expect. I was delightfully surprised! Fort Lee is really up and coming.

Tuesdays on the Town is a weekly event that happens during the summertime and is organized by The Fort Lee BDA, a non-profit organization, in partnership with the Borough of Fort Lee to revitalize and promote the Main Street Shopping Corridor. Its objective is to create an environment where people will shop and live, and for retailers to grow and thrive, by creating a vital community experience for all, visitors and residents alike.

This event in particular was special as they invited “Dancing with The Stars” alumnus Henry Byalikov. As soon as I arrived to Main Street, I got a chance to chat with him and even dance a little salsa. He is the sweetest and most humble person, and I loved getting to know him. He was lovely.

Before the event kicked off, I interviewed the mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich. At first, I thought he was just a regular resident because he was so friendly and approachable, seriously not the typical politician wearing a suit and tie. He was such a nice guy.

What’s your name?

Mark Sokolich.

What do you do?

I’m the mayor of Fort Lee.

How long have you been the mayor?

Almost 10 years, believe it or not!

Oh wow! Do you like it?

I do! It’s a lot of work but I enjoy the job.

Can you tell me more about this event?

This is Tuesdays on the Town. We are very excited because where this dance floor is was once a vacant piece of property for 45 years. We finally got it built and we wanted to bring some positive energy to this neck of the woods, and what better way to do that than dancing under the stars with this group. It’s just fantastic, we are all very excited. We get a huge crowd here every week.

Can you talk about any other events that are happening in Fort Lee that people can check out?

Yes, on Wednesdays and Saturday nights we have Movies Under the Stars in our community center. If you go to our web page, FortLeeNJ.org, there is a full calendar there, which you can download onto your phone. I say this all the time: if you want to be busy in Fort Lee, you can do it 24 hours a day.

Thank you, mayor! Want to dance with me? 

The event kicked off and it was a blast. I ended up staying the whole evening. It was so beautiful watching everyone participate and follow along. Henry Byalikov and an instructor from the local dance school, “Dance with Me Fort Lee,” led the event. There also were a few performances from students. One of them even brought me to tears, it was so beautiful.

At the end of the night, I went to get fro-yo from 16 Handles and sat on a bench to watch the festivities. I realized at that moment that I just love when people come together and create happy moments and memories. Especially with all the negative stuff going on in the world, seeing residents from all walks of life share a dance together is really a wonderful thing.

Thank you, Fort Lee! Can’t wait to come back.

For more information, visit www.enjoyfortlee.com.

Celebrating summer seafood in style at The Ryland Inn

Cracking open a delicious lobster while sipping a cool glass of sauvignon blanc on the patio of The Ryland Inn proved to be an exceptional experience.

What screams summer more than a clam bake? Cracking open a delicious lobster while sipping on a cool glass of sauvignon blanc, it doesn’t get much better than that. Indulging under glistening lights on the patio of The Ryland Inn made it exceptional.

Signature cocktails add to the ambiance at The Ryland Inn, which includes a gorgeous dining room, stunning chandeliers and a secluded outdoor bar and patio.

I was invited to The Ryland Inn’s Coastal Seafood Fest. After hearing many good things about the respected fine-dining destination, which provides gourmet, farm-fresh cuisine in an elegant country setting, I was excited. The Ryland Inn is tucked away amid Hunterdon County farmland. As I drove up to the inn, the setting was absolutely charming. No detail was missed, from the stunning chandeliers, to Thomas’s friendly greeting at the door. We were escorted through the gorgeous dining room to the secluded outdoor bar and patio.

Dinner at The Ryland Inn’s Coastal Seafood Fest began with a delicious peppercorn biscuit and butter.

We sat at the bar and started with a signature cocktail. Mine was called “Trip Back East”: a little gin, a little cantaloupe and lime; perfect. We were then seated at our table. Dinner began with a peppercorn biscuit and butter. I could have eaten 10 of these. Then a Jersey garden fresh salad and seafood bisque soup. The salad was fresh and crisp with goat cheese and grilled eggplant. The soup, creamy and delicately flavored by the sea.

Adding a crisp touch was the Jersey fresh salad, complete with goat cheese and grilled eggplant.

The “pièce de résistance” was a large, wrought-iron pot stuffed with two large lobsters, potatoes, corn on the cob, shrimp, clams and mussels, all in a steaming hot broth. There was, of course, butter and lemon on the side for dipping and squeezing. I put my napkin on and dove in.

The seafood bisque soup, creamy and delicately flavored, stirred up the action.

I started cracking my piping hot lobster and went straight for the tail, of course. It was sweet and delicious. Perfectly cooked and so large I could barely finish it. Hot towels came out to make our clean up nice and easy. I sipped my glass of sauvignon blanc as they prepared to bring out dessert.

The ‘pièce de résistance’ at The Ryland Inn’s Coastal Seafood Fest was a large, wrought-iron pot stuffed with two large lobsters, potatoes, corn on the cob, shrimp, clams and mussels, all in a steaming hot broth.

The sun had set and the lights above were twinkling. Cherry and lemon tart arrived with a dollop of homemade mint and chocolate ice cream on top. It was a simple delight. I was left wondering what the rest of the menu at The Ryland Inn was like and made a plan to return soon to indulge.

Fireflies and Rosé at The Ryland Inn

The Ryland Inn’s recent Rosé All Day event was a refreshing way to welcome summer.

If there’s one drink that screams summer to me, it would have to be rosé. On a warm night, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a cold glass of pink wine. So, when The Ryland Inn announced its “Rosé All Day” event, I was all in! It wasn’t hard to get a girlfriend on board and together we headed out for our version of the perfect ladies’ night.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Whitehouse Station, The Ryland Inn is a 220-year-old equestrian estate that has been transformed into a beautiful dining destination.

Traveling out on I-78, the mood was set long before arriving at the restaurant. The evening was clear and it was finally feeling like summer. As we drove west, the landscape enveloped us — the road to the restaurant was lined with a canopy of trees and a picturesque bridge brought us over a pretty little creek.

Alba Vineyard’s Chelsea Dry Rosé was a total hit at The Ryland Inn’s Rosé All Day event on June 22.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Whitehouse Station, The Ryland Inn is a 220-year-old equestrian estate that has been transformed into a beautiful dining destination. With an expertly designed dining room and a casual/cool outdoor area, you can’t go wrong for dinner. The weather was magnificent, so we settled in at a quiet outdoor table.

Hors d’oeuvres were passed around all night and each one was perfectly executed.

Before long, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the Sharko brothers, a principal at Alba Vineyard, whose Chelsea Dry Rosé was a total hit. Served ice cold, it was light and crisp. Hors d’oeuvres were passed around all night and each one was perfectly executed. Beef Wellington, quiche, goat cheese and beet salad — every bite was just right. My personal favorite was the shrimp with avocado mousse!

With an expertly designed dining room and a casual/cool outdoor area, you can’t go wrong for dinner at The Ryland Inn.

As the sun began to set, the fireflies came out and the glistening lights created a magical ambiance. An acoustic guitar player performed classic hits — a lovely soundtrack for an even more lovely evening.

Beef Wellington, quiche, goat cheese and beet salad — every bite of The Ryland Inn’s hors d’oeuvres was just right.

More Than Just Horses: Host Your Next Fabulous Soiree at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment

Teresa Pyskaty

Looking for a unique and one of kind experience for your next party or weekend night out with friends? Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment will be your new go-to spot. After attending their fantastic Kentucky Derby Day celebration a few weeks ago, I discovered that this state of the art facility is not just a racetrack, but is New Jersey’s best kept party venue secret. They have eight bars, lounges, and restaurants, each with their own distinct look and vibe, but all will give you the most amazing view of the racetrack (you’ll have a good seat no matter where you are). With a variety of options to offer, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment is the perfect venue for any type of experience; big or small, corporate or social. They can do it all, from birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows.

Teresa Pyskaty

For the best view in the house, Victory Terrace will be the space for you. This breezy bar gives you a rooftop front row seat to the NYC skyline with amazing views of the city landscape and racing action. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the dramatic night sky on a Friday or Saturday night during their harness racing events. Victory Terrace can easily accommodate up to 500 guests comfortably for your next special event. This is also the place to be on Friday race nights with a fun, youthful crowd, a fantastic DJ, and delicious drinks. This would also be a fabulous space to host a fun summer soiree or birthday bash with your nearest and dearest.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

One of my personal favorite (and one of the prettiest) spots at Meadowland’s Racing and Entertainment is their stunning tiered dining area aptly named Pink. With its swanky stained gunmetal floors, white subway tiles, and accented with bright pink wool chairs (hence the restaurant’s name), this eatery combines an upscale buffet with amazing views of the live horse racing action from every seat in the house. Table-side cocktail service complements the delicious buffet fare. This indoor restaurant allows seating for up to 270 guests to eat and drink, with the convenience of individual TV and betting terminals. How cute would this space be for an adorable Sweet 16 party or a lovely bridal shower brunch?

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Just inside the West Deck is Trotters, the members only club, which is available as an event space on non-racing nights. Trotters has three distinct seating styles – lounge, dining room and stadium – and a first class buffet. I absolutely love the classic and elegant décor which features gold frames and old wood throughout as well as fireplaces for a traditional finish. If you are looking to host an elegant soiree, this space is a perfect option.

Teresa Pyskaty

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Victory Sports Bar is most definitely the hot party spot (and the place to get your drink on!). Designed by Jordan Mozer, Victory Sports Bar has a vibrant atmosphere that can host up to 350 guests and features copper paneled walls, eleven massive flat screen HD TVs (perfect for the sports lovers). Party goers can munch on upgraded bar fare as well as enjoy the biggest drink specials around. Victory is the perfect spot for birthday celebrations, fantasy draft parties, bachelor(ette) parties, or even just a group getting together to watch the game.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Their four additional (and equally as fabulous) venues include the bright and airy Lounge, the intimate Gallery, for the VIP experience the Skybox Suites, and The Backyard, a 2.5 acre outdoor dining and entertainment section that can accommodate up to 10,000 people. And remember all of these areas are open during racing nights for your viewing enjoyment. It’s a fun, festive, and unique Friday or Saturday night out on the town.

Teresa Pyskaty

Their experienced special events team, who pride themselves on their professionalism and experience, is capable of exceeding all of your party expectations, no matter how big or how small. From birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows, they can do it all. They pride themselves on their professionalism and experience, and it most definitely shows. No matter what type of event you are looking to host, they can fashion your party into an extraordinary event that will be one your guests will certainly never forget. For more information visit thebigm.com.

Baozi Brew: Dim sum with a view in Jersey City

Pairing dim sum and a beer garden, Baozi Brew is located in the heart of Liberty State Park, with an outdoor patio and tons of space.

My boyfriend and I have a thing with dumplings. I’m not sure when it started, exactly, but there’s no doubt about it — we love them! So, when we heard about a new dim sum spot opening in our neighborhood, we had to head over to check it out for ourselves.

Each dim sum course at Baozi Brew was artfully plated and delicious.

Baozi Brew is located right next to the Liberty House Restaurant in the heart of Liberty State Park. With an outdoor patio and tons of space, it’s the perfect place for a group hang. And, if the food wasn’t enough of a draw, the park adds a whole other dimension: Views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty abound.

From the custom-made steam cart with built-in barrels of cocktails to the outdoor screening of kung fu movies, every detail of the restaurant was carefully considered.

When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by Orlando, the general manager, who gave us a tour of the space as well as an in-depth understanding of the concept. From the custom-made steam cart with built-in barrels of cocktails (Negronis and Manhattans) to the outdoor screening of kung fu movies, every single detail of the restaurant was carefully considered.

Views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty abound, perfect for a group get-together.

As we sat around the fire pit, enjoying our cocktails, the dim sum made its way to our table. Each course was artfully plated. The beef tenderloin skewers were served over a sizzling block of Himalayan sea salt, followed by crab and shrimp spring rolls that were light and crispy. For the dumpling portion of the meal, we went with pork buns and shrimp shumai — both were a hit!

The beef tenderloin skewers were served over a sizzling block of Himalayan sea salt.

The sun began to set and a nearby wedding reception was just getting started. We wrapped up dinner and went for a stroll around the park. Even after four years in Jersey City, the views remain stunning. We’ll definitely be back to Baozi Brew!

Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment Is Your New Go-To Party Spot

Teresa Pyskaty

It may just be because of all the fabulous, over-the-top hats but I have always wanted to attend an amazing Kentucky Derby party. In my 33 years of life, I have never had the chance to get all dolled up and don a fancy head piece to attend the races; that is until now. I had the fantastic opportunity to attend Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment’s Derby Day celebrations and I can whole heartedly attest that it was just as marvelous as the big soiree at Churchill Downs, and not to mention only a short car ride away. This was most certainly mainly due in part to the state of the art venue’s talented special events department. While getting the VIP treatment at this special occasion, I learned how their experienced team is capable of exceeding all of your party expectations.

Teresa Pyskaty

I began my big Derby Day by spending my morning dolling up in a gorgeous dress and fastening my adorable head piece. I was so excited to see so many lovely ladies getting festive and dressing the part. You could feel the energy and excitement as soon as you entered the racetrack. Upon arrival I received a tour of the venue’s eight bars, lounges, and restaurants. Each had its own distinct look and vibe, but all gave the most amazing view of the racetrack (you’ll have a good seat no matter where you are). With a variety of options to offer, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment is the perfect venue for any type of experience; big or small, corporate or social. They can do it all, from birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows.

Teresa Pyskaty

My first stop was Victory Terrace. This breezy bar gives you a rooftop front row seat to the NYC skyline with amazing views of the city landscape and racing action. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the dramatic night sky on a Friday or Saturday night during their harness racing events. Victory Terrace can easily accommodate up to 500 guests comfortably for your next special event. I took in the stunning views for a bit while chatting with fellow party goers. I learned that this is also the place to be on Friday race nights with a fun, youthful crowd, a fantastic DJ, and delicious drinks. This would also be a fabulous space to host a fun summer soiree or birthday bash with your nearest and dearest.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Next, before the hat contest started (how could I not enter?), I visited one of my favorite (and the prettiest) spots at Meadowland’s Racing and Entertainment; their fabulous tiered dining area aptly named Pink. With its swanky stained gunmetal floors, white subway tiles, and accented with bright pink wool chairs (hence the restaurant’s name), this eatery combines an upscale buffet with amazing views of the live horse racing action from every seat in the house. Table-side cocktail service complements the delicious buffet fare. This indoor restaurant allows seating for up to 270 guests to eat and drink, with the convenience of individual TV and betting terminals. I enjoyed one of the day’s signature drinks, named The Derby, while taking in some of the pre-race action on my own personal television. How cute would this space be for an adorable Sweet 16 party or a lovely bridal shower brunch?

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

After finishing my delicious drink, I headed down for one of the day’s big events, The Hat Contest. I’ll admit at first I thought I actually stood a chance, that was until I saw how creative many of these fabulous ladies got with their chapeaus. Unfortunately I did not place in the top three, but the winners were very much deserving (how amazing are their hats!?).

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Next before heading to Trotters, their members only club, to enjoy a nice meal, I had the amazing opportunity to ride the track (in a van) to go behind the scenes and visit the horses before they raced later in the day after the Derby. It was such an incredible moment to meet these beautiful creatures and bond a little bit with Spicebomb (he was so sweet and absolutely magnificent).

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

After that amazing experience, I headed over to Trotters to watch the actual Derby and enjoy their scrumptious southern-inspired buffet. Just inside the West Deck, this members only club, which is available as an event space on non-racing nights, includes three distinct seating styles – lounge, dining room and stadium – and a first class buffet. I absolutely loved the classic and elegant décor which featured gold frames and old wood throughout as well as fireplaces for a traditional finish. After placing my bet, I had a blast cheering on my horses (who unfortunately did not win) with the rest of the excited crowd.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Then I was whisked away to the winner’s circle where I had the distinct honor of serving as the trophy girl during the night’s big race after the Derby. Despite a brief thunderstorm (the weather luckily held out most of the day for us!), the race still went on, and I was able to congratulate the winner and present him with his trophy. It was such an incredible privilege to be granted this prestigious responsibility.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Before heading out, I decided to swing by Victory Sports Bar to check out the scene, and let me tell you it was quite the party (this is definitely the spot to get your drink on!). Designed by Jordan Mozer, Victory Sports Bar has a vibrant atmosphere that can host up to 350 guests and features copper paneled walls, eleven massive flat screen HD TVs (perfect for the sports lovers). Party goers can munch on upgraded bar fare as well as enjoy the biggest drink specials around. Victory is the perfect spot for birthday celebrations, fantasy draft parties, bachelor(ette) parties, or even just a group getting together to watch the game.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Their four additional (and equally as fabulous) venues include the bright and airy Lounge, the intimate Gallery, for the VIP experience the Skybox Suites, and The Backyard, a 2.5 acre outdoor dining and entertainment section that can accommodate up to 10,000 people.

After an exciting day at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment celebrating Derby Day, I decided to call it a night. I had such a fantastic time with once in a lifetime opportunities that I will surely never forget. It was their fantastic special events team who made the day so spectacular. They put that amazing energy into each and every event they host, no matter how big or how small. From birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows, they can do it all. They pride themselves on their professionalism and experience, and it most definitely shows. No matter what type of soiree you are looking to host, they can fashion your party into an extraordinary event that will be one your guests will certainly never forget. For more information visit thebigm.com.