DON PEPE II
18 Old Bloomfield Avenue
Pine Brook, 973-882-6757
Hours: Lunch: 11:30 am–3 pm. Dinner: Mon–Thurs, 3–10 pm; Fri, 3–11 pm; Sat, 1–11 pm; Sun, 1–9 pm.
Style: Iberian cuisine served in an often-bustling dining space crammed with tables. Walls are painted with murals of seaside villages, which lend an old-world feel, while white tablecloths and wood wainscotting add a warm touch.
Don’t Miss: The gambas al ajillo ($10.95), a special of shrimp sauteed with toasted garlic, is flavorful without being too filling. Vieras Don Pepe ($11), described as stuffed scallops, is a bit of a misnomer as the scallops are not stuffed, but rather buried in a crabmeat and breadcrumb stuffing and served in an oversized shell. For entrées, good bets are the mariscado Don Pepe ($23.75), a casserole with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and lobster in a brandy-and-wine sauce; and the paella a la Valenciana, saffron rice mixed with shellfish, chicken and Spanish sausage ($23.75). Meat selections include filet mignon ($31.95), chuletas de ternera Sevillana—a healthy veal chop smothered in brandy-mushroom sauce ($29.50)—and filete de pollo a la Vasca, breaded boneless chicken in tomato-wine sauce ($17.50). Most entrées are served with crisp, sautéed green beans and hand-cut potato chips. For dessert, tiramisu ($5.50) is a good pick, or try one of the homemade options, such as poached pears in port topped with vanilla ice cream ($5).
Heads Up: Portions are oversized on most entrées. There is a $5 plate-sharing charge, and on weekends some dishes have a two-order minimum. There are nightly appetizers and entrée specials, such as the 2- to 4-pound Nova Scotia lobster ($10.95/pound).
The Scoop: An offshoot of the flagship Don Pepe, located just outside the Ironbound section in Newark (844 McCarter Highway), this location brings the culture and cuisine to the suburbs. Less than a mile away, carnivores hog the spotlight at the Don Pepe Steak House (58 Route 46 West, Pine Brook).