WATERING HOLE JCMBrightside Tavern

This lively spot on Bright and Monmouth has become the go-to place, not just for food and brew but for entertainment and a friendly neighborhood vibe.
We were there on a late Wednesday morning just before the lunch crowd started fantasizing about burgers and midday drinks.
Lucy, the bartender, was setting up shop. She says a lot of customers come from the Jersey City Medical Center a block away on Grand after their shifts. After the bell rings, teachers from the two schools on Bright also come to unwind in a Cheers-like setting.
That’s how owner Tommy Parisi sees his establishment.
The first thing he wants to show us are the giant screens that display music videos. Customers can choose songs from online selections, sort of like the digital version of an old jukebox. It’s a great addition to birthday parties or other celebrations. You can type in the person’s name and a birthday greeting, while “Happy Birthday” plays, and the entire bar joins in.
While we were there, we treated ourselves to a playlist of Adele’s new “25” and vintage Beatles.
In the back is the Fireside Lounge, which features live entertainment. On Mondays from 8 p.m. to midnight is a Jazz Jam Session with more than 15 entertainers. “It’s not just musicians,” Tommy says. “It’s a performance with singers, and it’s always a great vibe.”
Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to midnight is Karaoke; Wednesdays is Karaoke and special events; Thursdays from 9 p.m. to midnight are live bands and open mic. Once a month on Fridays is comedy. Other Fridays and Saturdays are karaoke and dance.
On Fridays and Saturdays, scheduled events are cancelled for private parties. Tommy says he’s handled a wedding for 100, and an event for a piano teacher whose students got to play in front of a live Brightside audience.
During the football season, games reign supreme on Sunday afternoons.
Just visit brightsidetavern.com if you want to check out the many entertainment options.
An upstairs lounge and game room features darts, shuffleboard, foosball, ping pong, and other games.
Also on weekends is brunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The mention of brunch got Tommy thinking about the whole concept of brunch. We confirmed when asked that we think of brunch as a weekend activity.
“But why just weekends?” he asked. “Why not every day?” Looking around the bar, he observed that if he served brunch on weekdays, the place would be full at 11 a.m. Stay tuned. Tommy Parisi is always thinking of ways to give his customers the best possible experience, so who knows? Maybe workday brunch.
Tommy is very proud of Brightside’s food. The menu features a wide range of appetizers, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, “Brightsides” side dishes, soups, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts.
Popular standards that tavern goers expect include such things as hummus, sliders, and quesadillas for appetizers; wraps, tacos, and steak sandwiches; fish and chips, skirt steak, and salmon; and apple pie and bread pudding.
Tommy praises the menu’s exceptional quality, “across the board,” he says.
Though we visited in late January, the last time I stopped in at Brightside was on a beautiful summer evening. We sat outside, enjoyed an ice-cold beer, and watched the passing parade.
Brightside is a bar for all seasons.—Kate Rounds

Brightside Tavern
141 Bright St.
(201) 435-1234


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