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Restaurant News

May 02, 2012 05:00 AM ET | Rosie Saferstein | Permanent Link

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This week Rosie tells us about Blu in Montclair, Koreander in Upper Montclair, the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, the Sickles in Sicily tour, where to dine on Mother’s Day, and much more news about NJ restaurants.

When we recently dined at Blu, 554 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, during the town’s Restaurant Week (three courses for $31), the food was exquisite. Chef/owner Zod Arifai hasn’t missed a beat, even though he recently opened his third restaurant, Daryl in New Brunswick. The menu changes frequently, so the items we had may not be available. Just know that whatever you order will be perfectly cooked and delicious.

Starters included pristine salmon gravlax draped over avocado and topped with thinly sliced radishes. Soy caramel dotted the plate, creating an appealing abstract picture. Other attention-grabbing appetizers were sweet bay scallops with fennel, almonds, lemon purée, and poppy seeds; a colorful plate of roasted red and golden beets with goat cheese, strawberries, and microgreens; and creamy risotto with asparagus, fresh fava beans, and pecorino Romano. Entrées also pleased. Crispy-skin duck breast, served with red cabbage, caramelized turnip, and a red wine fig emulsion, doesn’t get any better than Chef Zod’s version. Fresh fava beans made a second appearance in a beautiful combination of cod with asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and truffle broth. Another flawlessly prepared fish was rich salmon served with black beans, peanuts, scallions, and a sweet-and-sour glaze. Desserts were divine; our favorites were the caramelized banana split with salted caramel ice cream and the rich chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Blu is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner; BYO. Reservations: 973-509-2202.

Sweet bay scallops with fennel, almonds, lemon purée, and poppy seeds.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.


There are no other Korean restaurants in the area, so it’s no wonder that many families were trying out the newly opened Koreander, located at 128 Watchung Avenue, Upper Montclair; BYO. The food is inexpensive, with the highest-priced item being marinated beef short ribs for $15.99. Our meal was $21 without the tip—yes, that was for the two of us. And the food was damn tasty. It’s certainly a place we would go back to.

The Korean signature dish bibimbap, made with vegetables and marinated beef atop rice, was served steaming hot in a stone pot. Other variations are offered as well, with pork, Korean BBQ, or vegetables. We also shared a filling bowl of dumpling and ramen noodle soup with a poached egg and spicy broth. Some other menu options are deopbab, a rice dish accompanied by vegetables or meat; seafood pajun, a Korean-style pancake with scallion, shrimp, octopus, and squid; and chapchae, thin sweet-potato noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with beef and thinly sliced vegetables. Japanese rolls are also on the menu, and a lunch box is offered from 11 AM to 2:30 PM, which comes with miso soup, rice, a California roll, salad, and a choice of beef short ribs, pork, chicken, or marinated beef. Finish your meal with yogurt, a smoothie, or bubble tea. Reservations: 973-509-7800.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.


Who could say no to a dinner at Undici Taverna Rustica, 11 West River Road, Rumson, hosted by Sickles Market, 1 Harrison Avenue, Little Silver? It’s a no-brainer. Both establishments, one a restaurant and the other a store, offer high-quality food. So recently we traveled to Rumson, as Sickles was previewing its Sickles in Sicily tour with a dinner featuring Sicilian products. From a rice ball, caponata, and room-temperature creamy pepato cheese to five different crisp-crust pizzas (our favorite being arugula and prosciutto, which we were encouraged to drizzle with Sicilian olive oil) to a dessert of lemon curd gelato atop a lemon with shaved Sicilian chocolate, we were enthralled. Wines? Of course! We had a Firriato Chiaramonte Bianco 2010, which I loved, while Lowell was partial to the Feudo Maccari Maharis 2007. Interested in taking the trip? Attendees will meet the producers of the specialty food products found only on Sickles Market’s shelves; have private tastings of wines, olive oil, and chocolate; accompany a Sicilian chef to a seaside market and later taste the dishes made from the shopping spree; explore the native fauna in a private garden; and roam the ancient ruins. For more information and pricing, call Kirsty Dougherty at 732-741-9563.

Lemon curd gelato.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.


Frank and Jeanne Cretella of Landmark Hospitality, owners of Liberty House Restaurant, Stone House at Stirling Ridge, Celebrate at Snug Harbor, and Crave Caterers, have announced that phase one of construction has begun on the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse. The executive chef is Anthony Bucco, who previously worked at Uproot in Warren. According to the Cretellas, “The mission at the Ryland is to create an environment in which our guests feel extremely pampered in an unpretentious and unassuming setting.”

The restaurant is scheduled to open this summer for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, as well as for Saturday and Sunday brunch, and will have a Chef’s Room inside the kitchen, plus outdoor patios, an expanded bar, and vaulted ceilings. Future plans include a banquet room to be completed in December 2012. The final stage will include lodging, a second banquet space, a conference center, and a hydroponic farm.

Chef Bucco will offer new American cuisine, as well as some rustic menu items using fresh and seasonal ingredients. The wine list will include many selections under $50, and seasonal specialty cocktails will be featured. For more information, call 866-683-3586 or e-mail


To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, Stage Left, 5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, will host a Great Chefs of Stage Left dinner on May 18. Joining the festivities will be current chef JR Belt, plus chefs Anthony Bucco, Patrick Yves Pierre-Jerome, and Eric Martin and past maître d’/chef Bryan Mack. After hors d’oeuvres, the following menu will be presented:

Lobster wontons by Eric Martin

Pulled duck and foie gras ravioli by Patrick Yves Pierre-Jerome

Black trumpets and tuna loin with English pea purée and pea tendrils by Anthony Bucco

Duo of aged Wagyu strip loin and 48-hour short ribs with gingered carrots by JR Belt

Dark chocolate mille-feuille with hazelnut mousse, mocha pot de crème, and chocolate cardamom ice cream by Bryan Mack

7 PM; $79 plus beverage, tax, and service. For reservations, e-mail or call 732-828-4444.


Burger Deluxe, 1420 Route 23 North, Wayne, is celebrating National Burger Month in May with the following promotions:

Late-Night Bites from 9 PM till close with a half-pound burger, side, and fountain soda for $10.

Every Tuesday in May is Deluxe Date Night: Buy one burger, get a second with all the trimmings for just $5.

It’s also National Salad Month, so customers will receive a free mixed green or Caesar salad with every burger purchased throughout May. Burger Deluxe is open from 11 AM to 10 PM Sunday through Thursday and 11 AM to 11 PM Friday and Saturday. For more information and reservations, call 973-305-0033 or visit


On Tuesdays through June 26 (excluding May 29), Oddfellows Restaurant, 80 River Street, Hoboken, will be serving crawfish by the pound along with Corona specials. Reservations: 201-656–9009.


The following restaurants will be open on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 13).

Show Mom how special she is at the Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville. A brunch buffet will be offered in the Fenwick Ballroom, 10 AM to 4 PM; $59, $35 for children ages six to twelve, $15 for children ages two to five (kids under two are free). A three-course prix-fixe menu will be served in the dining room, noon to 7 PM; $75, children under twelve $35. Reservations: 908-766-0002.

Celebrate Mother’s Day at Blue Morel, Westin Governor Morris Hotel, 2 Whippany Road, Morristown, where executive chef Kevin Takafuji will present a three-course dinner. Seatings from 12:30 to 9 PM; $59, children under twelve $29. An à la carte menu will also be available. A breakfast buffet with an omelet station will be offered from 6:30 to 10:30 AM for $19. Reservations: 973-451-2619.

Casa Dante, 737 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, will be open on Mother’s Day from 1 to 9 PM with a four-course prix-fixe menu with choices ($49), as well as a special à la carte menu. For more information, visit Reservations: 201-795-2750.

A Mother’s Day brunch will be held at Centerton Country Club & Event Center, 1022 Almond Road, Pittsgrove. 10 AM to 4 PM; $29.95, children ages five to twelve $19.95. Reservations: 856-358-3325.

Chef Thomas Ciszak of Chakra, West 144 Route 4 East, Paramus, will be cooking some of his favorite dishes for Mom. A three-course meal will be offered from 1 to 8 PM for $52 plus tax and gratuity. A children’s à la carte menu will also be available. Reservations: 201-556-1530.

Due Mari, 78-80 Albany Street, New Brunswick, will be open from 11 AM to 9 PM, serving a three-course prix-fixe menu for $55, children $25. Reservations: 732-296-1600.

Elements, 163 Bayard Lane, Princeton, will offer Mom a weekend of choices. On May 12, brunch will be served from 11 AM to 3 PM, with an à la carte dinner from 5 to 11 PM. On Mother’s Day, brunch will be served from 10 AM to 3 PM, with an à la carte dinner from 5 to 10 PM. Brunch is $59, $29 for children ages ten and under. Reservations: 609-924-0078.

Esty Street, 86 Spring Valley Road, Park Ridge, will be serving brunch on Mother’s Day from noon to 3 PM. Dinner, from 5 to 9 PM, will feature Chef Adam Weiss’s new spring menu. Reservations: 201-307-1515.

Highlawn Pavilion, Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, will offer a four-course prix-fixe dinner for $59. Reservations: 973-731-3463.

Kuzina by Sofia, Sawmill Shopping Center, 404 Route 70 West, Cherry Hill, will offer a Mother’s Day brunch and dinner with a live violin performance by Madison Marcucci and Company. Reservations: 856-429-1061.

The Mad Batter at the Carroll Villa Hotel, 19 Jackson Street, Cape May, will be serving brunch from 8 AM to 3 PM and dinner from 4 to 8:30 PM. The price-fixed dinner menu will be $30 for three courses, and the regular menu will also be available. Reservations: 609-884-9619.

Osteria Morini, 107 Morristown Road, Bernardsville, will be open on Mother's Day from 11 AM to 9 PM, serving a three-course prix-fixe menu for $55, children $25. Reservations: 908-221-0040.

Restaurant Nicholas, 160 Route 35 South, Middletown, will be serving a three-course menu for $65, a four-course garden menu for $65, a six-course tasting menu for $85, and a children’s menu for $32. Mom will receive a box of house-made macaroons. Reservations: 732-345-9977.

Dine at Salt Creek Grille, 4 Bingham Avenue, Rumson, with its waterfront view of the historic Navesink River. A special Mother’s Day menu prepared by executive chef Bob Belt will be featured, with steaks, chops, chicken, seafood, pasta, and house-made desserts. A children’s menu will also be available. Noon to 7 PM. Reservations: 732-933-9272.

St Eve’s, 611 North Maple Avenue, Ho-Ho-Kus, will offer its traditional menu as well as Chef Christianson’s special selections. 2 to 8 PM. Reservations: 201-857-4717.

Ursino, Liberty Hall Campus of Kean University, 1075 Morris Avenue, Union, will be serving a special three-course, seasonal, prix-fixe menu, with several choices for each course. A three-course menu for children under twelve will also be available. Noon to 6 PM; $48, children $18. Reservations: 908-249-4099.

Za Restaurant, 147 West Delaware Avenue, Pennington, will offer an à la carte brunch and dinner on Mother’s Day. Reservations: 609-737-4400; BYO.

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Sicilian Tour

Rosie, it was so nice breaking bread with you and Lloyd. We’re looking forward to another great dinner at Undici May 8, and inviting you to attend! We’re very excited for this behind-the-scenes, food-lover’s tour of Sicily in October.

Posted by: Sickles Market, Little Silver | May 02, 2012 15:15:05 PM |


Ahhhh.... thanks so much. It was our pleasure.

Posted by: Rosalie, West Orange | May 02, 2012 16:30:48 PM |

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