By New Jersey Monthly, July 13, 2009

Take one stove with six burners, and nine tables that seat 32. Add two lovers with a passion for modern French cuisine, and you get the 4-year-old love child of chef Humberto Campos Jr., and manager Lorena Perez Campos. His elegant, seasonal food has made most of his customers regulars. Summer offerings include a crepe encasing jumbo lump crabmeat and field mushrooms; black angus hanger steak au poivre with braised onions and potato puree; and skate wing enlivened with fennel, black olives, capers, and lobster-shellfish broth.

"Balance of flavor is my priority," says Campos, a CIA grad who was raised in Rahway and helped open Nicholas in 2000. "I try to stir all the flavors on the palate--sweet, salty, sour, acid." His wife's gracious, attentive touch seals the deal. "Lorena's would not be the same without her," he insists. She, a native of Santiago, Chile, was working as an ICU nurse when they met. Eventually they found their charming Maplewood nest. "Maybe if I'd been by myself I would've done something different," Campos says. "But it had to reflect both of us." She adds, "We always say we love our little restaurant. And that's why it works." 168 Maplewood Ave, 973-763-4460, restaurantlorena.com