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Maplewood Man Finds State's Best Ethnic Foods

South Orange-Maplewood roots inspire EthnicNJ.com writer

When South Orange and Maplewood residents wonder where to find great Italian food around, they turn to EthnicNJ.com. The local website, founded by Maplewood's Anthony Ewing, maps and reviews ethnic food around the Garden State.

"Since launching EthnicNJ.com in May 2010," says Ewing, "the website has really taken off. Readership has grown dramatically. The site's coverage has expanded to map over 700 restaurants serving 60 different ethnic cuisines."

For Ewing, the website is an avocation and an answer to a problem. Ewing came up with the idea for the site after looking for good places to eat on his way back home from soccer games.

"There was a lot of information on the web, but it was hard to sift through," he recalls. The goal of EthnicNJ.com is to put this information all in one place. Ewing also reviews and ranks restaurants, from "my favorites" to "worth a visit" and the tactfully put "I didn't like it, but you might."

An important criterion for these rankings is authenticity. According to Ewing, a restaurant offering a certain national cuisine should serve food that someone  of that background would both "recognize and appreciate." But there are other tip-offs that you are eating in a place that is the real deal. In an authentic Italian restaurant, for instance, you should not only hear Italian spoken but "at least one of the waiters or bartenders should be over 60, and a few of the customers should be dead-on Sopranos casting-call types."

As a fourth generation Italian-American himself, Ewing believes that New Jerseyans are passionate about ethnic food because so many of them are hyphenated Americans. Such identities remain strong "no matter how long they or their families have been in the country." In the case of Ewing, his own Italian-American identity has deep roots in the South Orange, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"italian-south-orange-una-breve-storia"} --> - Maplewood community. One set of great-grandparents who immigrated to this country settled in

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