I'm a big fan of the Brookdale section of Bloomfield. It has charming, well-maintained houses right by Brookdale Park, as well as a great mix of traditional and trendy shops and restaurants on Broad Street. Italian food fans have two delicious choices, each open less than a year. Bar Cara is the more casual sibling of Montclair's haute Italian restaurant Fascino; both are owned by the DePersio family. On the other side of Watchung Ave. is Pizza Rustica, serving pizzas, pastas and the like. Literally next door is the popular Greek eatery Stamna, and right across the street is Boonsong Thai Cuisine.
Looking for something less exotic? The IHOP is perfect for a traditional pancake breakfast, and Mastriano Prime Meats & Deli has been the neighborhood butcher since 1966. After dinner, Brookdale-ites often stroll over to Holsten's. Open since 1939, Holsten's was famous for its ice cream long before the Sopranos came to town.
The neighborhood is also home to several houses of worship. Among others, the Watchung Presbyterian Church is right next to the IHOP, and Temple Ner Tamid, a Reform congregation, is just a bit further south on Broad.
Clearly local shop owners are proud of their neighborhood: long-established businesses here include Brookdale Wine & Spirits, Brookdale Pet Center and Brookdale Barber. Add Brookdale Elementary School to the north, Bloomfield Middle School to the east, and you have one of New Jersey's best walkable communities.