DUE MARI PESCE E VINOTECA
It’s not a surprise that the newly opened Due Mari Pesce e Vinoteca, 78-80 Albany Street, New Brunswick, has a seafood-focused menu, as “due mari” means “two seas” in Italian. This attractive restaurant has three sections: a striking circular bar with an eye-catching vase filled with an arrangement of seasonal flora; a casual dining area, where a bar menu is offered; and a formal main dining room with extremely comfortable banquettes and leather chairs. And for private parties, there’s an elegant and intimate dining room downstairs, which seats 40.
Before dinner, while perusing the menu or having a drink at the bar, be sure to order some sfizi (Italian for “whims” or “fancies”), which are small, savory dishes presented in wooden bowls. Some options are mixed Italian olives; pesto with pine nuts and toasted crostini; artichoke hearts with basil and pecorino; and marinated swordfish with orange and Ligurian olives. Guests may order these to share, and several of them can create a light, tasty meal. There is also an extensive crudo bar offering sliced fish, oysters, shrimp cocktail, and three sizes of shellfish platters.
The irresistible pastas are handcrafted and were my favorite part of our meal. We ordered three to share, and the kitchen graciously split them and plated them beautifully: squid ink tagliolini with scallops, calamari, tomato, basil, and herbed bread crumbs; garganelli pasta quills with prosciutto di Parma, mushrooms, and truffle butter; and Robiola ravioli in a butternut squash brown butter sage sauce. Pasta lovers can opt for the five-course pasta tasting menu, for two people or more, priced at $55 per person.
All of the seafood dishes read so enticingly on the menu that it was hard to make a decision. My seared scallops with caramelized Brussels sprouts and cremini mushrooms with a brown butter lemon sauce were sweet: a perfectly executed dish. Ditto for the sautéed chard topped with rainbow trout and surrounded by bacon, roasted potatoes, and red wine butter. A tasty option for those who don’t eat seafood is the tower of crispy organic chicken with broccoli rabe, pancetta, cipollini onions, and rosemary potatoes, or any of the steaks.
Desserts are taken seriously here. Some options created by pastry chef Denise Cinque are vanilla bean panna cotta with blackberry compote and lemon sorbetto; tiramisu made with espresso-soaked ladyfingers and Amaretto mascarpone mousse; and zucca, a butternut squash custard, paired with toasted pumpkin seeds and vanilla gelato.
There are 20 to 25 wines by the glass, which can be ordered in two different-size glasses, a nice touch. Because this is a seafood restaurant, the emphasis is on white wines, but with 350 wines and champagnes to choose from there are plenty of options in all price ranges. The Due Terre, a signature cocktail, is made with Stoli Raspberry, white cranberry juice, triple sec, and raspberry syrup. This fall, try the seductive pumpkin martini, which smells and tastes like pumpkin pie.
The staff at Due Mari have impressive resumes. Consulting chef/partner Michael White is also the consulting chef/partner at Due Terre, Bernardsville (Due Mari’s sister restaurant), and is also chef/partner at Convivio, NYC. Executive chef/partner Bill Dorrier, who also spends time in the same position at Due Terre, Bernardsville, has previously worked at Ciao and Cafe Cucina, both in NJ. And managing partner Francois Rousseau was formerly manager at NJ’s Ryland Inn and NYC’s Gramercy Tavern.
Due Mari is open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 4 PM and for dinner daily. For reservations call 732-296-1600.
Seared scallops at Due Mari, New Brunswick.
Picture courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.
FALL HARVEST DINNER AT LIGHT HORSE TAVERN
On November 19, a fall harvest wine dinner featuring wines from Rosenblum Cellars will be held at Light Horse Tavern, 199 Washington Street, Jersey City. Executive chef Troy Unruh has prepared a special fall menu. 7 PM; $75 plus tax and gratuity. For reservations call 201-946-2028.
Light Horse Tavern, Jersey City.
COFFEE AND CHOCOLATES—OH, MY!
It’s not too early to plan for holiday gifts, and coffee drinkers will appreciate any of the nine blends created by Chef Craig Shelton, co-owner of Chef’s Coffee Company. Our favorite is the Ryland Inn Regular, a medium roast that’s also available in decaf. And to accompany your coffee, there are biscotti in three flavors (citrus with no nuts, pistachio, and hazelnut l’orange), all perfect for dipping.
Chef Shelton has also joined with master chocolatier Diane Pinder to produce a new line of premium handcrafted artisan chocolates. The Gastronomie Chocolat 1 contains one each of Turkish Delight, Pillow Book, Tropical Night, New England, Autumn, Gateway to Heaven, and Classic Bon-Bon, with each designed to be a complete dessert. A very impressive gift basket is also available, which includes four half-pound bags of coffee (Ryland Inn Blend, Yachtsman’s Blend, Equestrian Blend, and Shelton Selection Blend), twelve chocolate coffee truffles, twelve chocolate truffle coffee spoons, a bag of dark chocolate buttons, three bags of biscotti, a seventeen-ounce stainless steel French press, and a matching sugar bowl, spoon, creamer, and tray.
All Chef’s Coffee Company products are available online at www.chefscoffee.com and at Donna & Company Artisan Chocolates, 19 Eastman Street, Cranford. Some of the product line is available at Chef Central, Paramus; DePiero’s Country Farm, West Montvale; Bondgard, Allendale; and Demarest Farms, Hillsdale.
A GIFT FOR WINE ENTHUSIASTS
For a holiday gift, wine enthusiasts and local history buffs will enjoy the book New Jersey Wineries by Jennifer Papale Rignani. While viewing vintage images, readers will learn that NJ wine has been produced since 1864, there are more than 40 wineries in the state, and NJ is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the country. The book is available at local retailers, online bookstores, and through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
HOLIDAY WINE EXTRAVAGANZA
On November 23, taste more than 50 wines (along with cheese and snacks) that are delicious with turkey and make great gifts, at a Holiday Wine Extravaganza at Rosie’s Wine Bar, 514 North Avenue, Garwood. Noon to 5 PM; $30. Reservations are not required. For more information call 908-518-WINE.
Montclair Restaurant Week will be celebrated from February 2 through 8, 2009, with participating restaurants offering three-course fixed-price dinners for $20 or $30 plus beverages, tax, and gratuity.
From November 17 through 20, an Off the Hook promotion, which includes four-course menus for $30, will be available at 25 South Jersey restaurants. The menus will focus on seafood, but all restaurants will continue to offer nonseafood courses as well. Participating restaurants can be found at www.sjoffthehook.com or by calling Chef Joe Palombo at 856-296-3682.
On Sundays, a three-course chicken dinner is being featured at restaurant.mc, 57 Main Street, Millburn, for $24 per person. The menu includes an heirloom beet salad with goat cheese truffle, mâche, and candied walnuts; a bucket of buttermilk fried or roasted chicken with buttermilk biscuits and whipped potatoes; and milk and cookies for dessert. There is also a new kids’ menu with all items priced at $10. For reservations call 973-921-0888.
Tapped Out Tuesdays are being celebrated at Salt Creek Grille, 4 Bingham Avenue, Rumson, with half off all draught beers. For more information and dinner reservations call 732-933-9272.
The Embankment, 234 10th Street, Jersey City, offers half-price bottles of wine on Wednesdays and a three-course prix-fixe menu for $25 all night on Mondays and from 4 to 7 PM Tuesdays through Thursdays. For reservations call 201-222-6115.
Sabor Peru, 8 Highland Cross, Rutherford, offers a lunch special Wednesdays through Fridays, which includes the stew of the day with rice, beans, soup, and soda for $8.95 plus tax. For reservations call 201-935-7378; BYO.
Tropicana Casino and Resort, 2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, is offering special three-course meals for $35 at Il Verdi and Wellington’s Steak and Seafood Sundays through Thursdays. For reservations call 800-345-8767.
On Mondays through the end of November, Restaurant Serenade, 6 Roosevelt Avenue, Chatham, is offering bottles of wine at 50 percent off. For reservations call 973-701-0303.
FOODBANK TURKEY AND CANNED GOODS DRIVE
The FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties will have its annual turkey and canned goods drive on Saturday, November 22, from 9 AM to 2 PM. Cash donations to purchase turkeys will also be gratefully accepted. For a drop-off location near you visit www.foodbankmoc.org or call 732-918-2600 ext 242.
The following restaurants will be open and/or offering catering services for Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 27):
Amanda’s, 908 Washington Street, Hoboken, will serve a special three-course Thanksgiving dinner with seatings at 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM; $39.50 plus beverages, tax, and gratuity. For reservations call 201-798-0101.
Arthur’s Landing, Port Imperial, 1 Pershing Road, Weehawken, will serve a three-course dinner on Thanksgiving. 1 to 7 PM; $55; children ages twelve and under $17.50. For reservations call 201-867-0777.
The Artisan Kitchen, Lebanon Plaza, Route 22 East, Lebanon, has a catering menu available for Thanksgiving. Call 908-236-9919 for more information.
Avenue, Pier Village, 23 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch, will serve a four-course Thanksgiving dinner with options from 1 to 7 PM for $38. A to-go menu will also be available. For reservations and to place an order call 732-759-2900.
The Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, will offer a three-course prix-fixe dinner in the dining room and a grand Thanksgiving buffet in the ballroom. Seatings for the prix-fixe dinner are from 12:30 to 6:30 PM; adults $70; children ages two to twelve $35; children ages two and under free. Seatings for the grand buffet are from noon to 5:30 PM; adults $65; children ages six to twelve $30; children ages two to five $15; children ages two and under free. For reservations call 908-766-0002.
The Brothers Moon, 7 West Broad Street, Hopewell, will prepare your holiday feast to go. Menu items include soups, appetizers, salads, main courses, sides, and desserts. All orders must be placed by November 21 and picked up on November 26. The restaurant will be closed on Thanksgiving. For complete menu and pricing information and to place an order call 609-333-1330.
Calandra’s Mediterranean Grill, Hampton Inn and Suites, 118-124 Route 46 East, Fairfield, will offer a Thanksgiving buffet with seatings at noon, 3, and 6 PM (closing at 9 PM). Call 973-575-6500 for reservations.
Catherine Lombardi, 3 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, will serve both an à la carte menu and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu. For reservations call 732-296-9463.
Copeland, 2 Whippany Road, Morristown, will serve a three-course Thanksgiving meal featuring Chef Thomas Ciszak’s take on the traditional bird: turkey breast and leg with candied yams, cornbread stuffing, baked apple, and chestnut gravy. Fish and vegetarian options will be available. Noon to 9 PM; $59; children ages six to twelve $29. For reservations call 973-451-2619.
Crystal Springs Resort, Vernon and Hardyston, will offer five dining options. A Thanksgiving buffet will be served in the Emerald Ballroom at Grand Cascades Lodge from 11 AM to 5 PM; $42. Crystal Tavern will offer a four-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner in addition to its full upscale-steak-house-style menu; 11 AM to 9 PM; $39.95. The menu at Restaurant Latour will include a special Thanksgiving entrée in addition to à la carte dishes; noon to 6 PM. The newly opened Springs Bistro will serve a Thanksgiving-themed entrée in addition to its Tuscan-inspired menu; 4 to 9 PM; pricing is à la carte. Kites Restaurant will offer its regular menu as well as a five-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner; noon to 9 PM; $35. For reservations call 973-827-5996 ext 2. For more information visit www.thecrystalspringsresort.com.
Cucina Calandra, Fairfield Executive Inn/Best Western, 216-234 Route 46 East, Fairfield, will offer à la carte dining from a select holiday menu on Thanksgiving. Groups as large as 20 can be accommodated in the dining room or lounge, and banquet rooms can host groups ranging from 25 to 200. Call 973-575-7720 for reservations.
Due Terre Enoteca, 107 Morristown Road, Bernardsville, will serve a three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner. 1 to 7 PM; $50; children $25. For reservations call 908-221-0040.
The Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis Street, New Brunswick, will do the cooking (and cleaning up!) for you on Thanksgiving. A three-course menu will be served from 1 to 7 PM; $58; children $22. For reservations call 732-846-3216.
Harbor Bar and Brasserie, 500 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, will serve a Thanksgiving buffet. Adults $39.95; children ages ten and under $14.95. For more information and reservations call 201-348-4444.
High Street Grill, 64 High Street, Mount Holly, has a few ways to help you celebrate Thanksgiving. They’ll supply an uncooked holiday turkey from Griggstown Quail Farm for pickup on November 26, or you can order a cooked turkey, plus side dishes and appetizers, to be picked up on Thanksgiving morning. The restaurant will also serve a prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner from 2 to 7 PM. Call 609-265-9199 for more details and dining reservations.
Liberty House Restaurant, 78 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, will present a three-course prix-fixe menu with seatings starting at noon; $45 plus beverages, tax, and gratuity. For reservations call 201-395-0300.
The Olde Mill Inn, 225 North Maple Avenue, Basking Ridge, will serve Thanksgiving brunch from 10 AM to 4 PM. Dinner will be offered at the Grain House Restaurant from noon to 6:30 PM. For pricing and menus call 908-221-1150.
The Park Steakhouse, 151 Kinderkamack Road, Park Ridge, will offer its standard à la carte menu as well as traditional Thanksgiving fare. 1 to 7 PM. For reservations call 201-930-1300.
Restaurant Nicholas, 160 Route 35 South, Middletown, is offering a three-course menu, a four-course garden menu, and a six-course tasting menu on Thanksgiving. Seatings are from 2 to 8:30 PM. Call 732-345-9977 for reservations.
Restaurant Serenade, 6 Roosevelt Avenue, Chatham, will offer a three-course prix-fixe menu on Thanksgiving. 2 to 7 PM; $65 plus tax and gratuity. For reservations call 973-701-0303.
Salt Creek Grille, 4 Bingham Avenue, Rumson, will offer an all-you-can-eat turkey dinner with mushroom barley soup or Salt Creek Grille house salad, plus apple rosemary stuffing, sage candied yams, roasted winter vegetables, cranberry orange relish, roasted shallot mashed potatoes, apple or pumpkin pie, and coffee or tea. 12 to 7 PM; adults $26; children ages twelve and under $10. À la carte selections will also be available. For reservations call 732-933-9272.
Stage Left, 5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, will serve an à la carte menu as well as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu. For reservations call 732-828-4444.
The Stockton Inn, 1 Main Street, Stockton, will present a traditional turkey-with-all-the-trimmings dinner on Thanksgiving to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and the Rescue Mission of Trenton. Guests will be asked to make a contribution equal to what they would have spent while dining out. Seatings are at noon, 1:15, 2:30, and 3:45 PM. Beverages are not included. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 609-397-1250.
Stone House at Stirling Ridge, 50 Stirling Avenue, Warren, will serve a three-course prix-fixe menu offering traditional Thanksgiving favorites. Seatings start at noon; $45 plus beverages, tax, and gratuity. For reservations call 908-754-0082.
Tavern 344, 344 French Hill Road, Wayne, will offer a Thanksgiving buffet with seatings from 1 to 6 PM. For reservations call 973-696-9440.
The Washington Inn, 801 Washington Street, Cape May, will serve an à la carte menu on Thanksgiving from 2 to 7 PM. For more information and reservations call 609-884-5697.
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