If you are still trying to learn how to connect frontends and backends (like understanding the full picture) Firebase (Google’s backend as a service) will let you focus more on integration and less on setup, it’s a great learning tool but expensive for growing websites so learning stuff like Express.js and Mongo is still important.
Yup, you could do this with PHP or any other backend language.
One way would be to have PHP read from your DB and respond with templated HTML in response to the initial GET request.
Thanks everyone for the replies! I may first try it with Jquery and Php as I have been learning PHP a little. I still need to learn Node but if I struggle with PhP I’ll switch to node.