Enoteca Ursino in Union Still Charms

The newly reopened restaurant on Kean University's campus, formerly known as Ursino, has basically remained the same.

At the newly opened Enoteca Ursino, patrons enter on the top floor, where the bar and lounge are located and then walk down the curved staircase, past an open kitchen, to the main dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a blueprint of Liberty Hall decorating the back wall. Sound familiar? Enoteca Ursino was previously known as Ursino which closed in September 2015. The décor is still attractive and has basically remained the same.

Owned by the Terra Momo Restaurant Group (Terra Momo Bread Company, Teresa Caffe, Mediterra and Eno Terra) the name Ursino goes back to 1800 when it was the ancestral estate of the Livingston and Kean families. It was renamed when Susan Livingston married Polish Count Julian Ursin Niemcewicz whose Polish estate was named Ursino.

Tables were clothless with dishtowel napkins and a colorful purple flower in a Mason jar. Well-trained waitstaff with black checkered shirts, black pants and long dark gray aprons were attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. We were impressed that after ordering a glass of wine the bottle was brought to our table and we were able to taste the wine before committing to the glass; a nice touch.

The menu is limited; hopefully as the season progresses more items and specials will be added. There were eight starters, three pizzas, three pastas and four main dishes (a Wagyu sirloin, salmon, roasted chicken and beef burger). Consider grazing on the starters as well as the salumi and formaggi offerings, if the entrees are not to your liking.

Red, candied and yellow beets, Bibb lettuce and candied walnuts made for a colorful plate and was listed on the menu as “Salt Baked Beets. They were exactly that—salty. A salad of broccoli rabe, nettle pesto and hazelnut vinaigrette combined beautifully with creamy burrata. Salmon was perfectly cooked medium rare and served with asparagus farratto, wood sorrel and spring onion; a flavorful dish. Mushrooms from Shibumi Farm in Princeton, which produces top quality products, were plentiful with gnocchi, hazelnuts and Pecorino Pepato cheese. However the chef had a heavy hand with the Sherry vinegar in the sauce creating an off-putting taste. A lemon tart was perfectly acidic and surrounded by lemon- thyme syrup soaked blackberries, but the topping of blackberry sorbet was flat and tasted like frozen water.

Executive chef is Scott Tolhurst, who previously worked at Crystal Springs Resort and most recently with chef Tom Collicchio at Craft Restaurant.

Bar/Enoteca is open Monday through Saturday from 4 PM and the Main dining room Monday through Saturday from 5 PM.

Enoteca Ursino
Kean University
1075 Morris Avenue

Beet salad.

Salmon with asparagus farratto, wood sorrel and spring onion.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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