ORANGE & OLIVE CATERERS AND CHEF’S TABLE, JERSEY CITY
Would you go to a storefront restaurant in an unfamiliar neighborhood that offers a fixed ten-course tasting menu for up to 12 guests, costs $150 (bottled water, coffee, tea, tax and tip included) and you have to prepay? Although we were at a press dinner at Orange & Olive, when we left I said to Lowell, “How soon can we come back?” None of the aforementioned would keep us away. There are plenty of restaurants in NJ that offer tasting menus, chef’s tables, and innovative upscale cuisines, but there is no place like Orange & Olive. It is unique, and we loved it. Executive chef/owner Sam Fertik and his business partner Aaron Nemani, who are both just 24 years old, are to be commended for their vision and the concept employed at Orange & Olive.
Four nights a week, up to 12 guests can dine at a candlelit, 17-foot long, handmade wooden Chef’s Table, facing the open kitchen. From the communal table, they watch eclectic modern-American cuisine being prepared by chef Fertik, who meticulously plates the dishes. Watch his dexterity with a long tweezer. (Twenty can be accommodated for private parties.)
Table at Orange & Olive that faces the kitchen.
Interact with the chefs as they cook, walk into the kitchen, and/or stand by the counter as if you are in a friend’s home. The kitchen and dining space are cozy and also serve as a catering kitchen and cooking classroom. The dining experience is enhanced as booking and prepaying online is convenient and leaving is seamless. When making a reservation dietary restrictions can be noted and will be accommodated
Executive chef Sam Fertik plating hamachi.
The menu changes about every three weeks depending on what is available, and the chef’s whims. Expect ten small courses or more. Some of the dishes incorporated sophisticated molecular gastronomic techniques, such as the 62-degree egg, which you will want to observe being plated as the technique of cracking the egg is mesmerizing. You will not leave hungry. Here is what we tasted:
Salmon belly tartar served in mini tagines with a sweet, beet gastrique counterbalanced with lemon oil; a light start and indication of the admirable food to come.
Pounded raw hamachi with black-garlic emulsion, pickled cucumber, gelled yuzu sauce, a drop of French olive oil, and beads from finger limes. The finger lime was new to us. It is a small brown pod that is snapped open to squeeze out the petite lime pearls, which popped in our mouths and gave texture to the pristine fish.
A 62-degree egg cooked in a water bath for an hour was removed from its shell and placed atop of a confit of sweated leeks and topped with a truffle-honey sabayon flecked with bits of bacon. “Egg on egg,” the chef called this dish. We called it sublime, and it had us moaning with pleasure. The slightly gelled white and creamy yolk, combined with the saltiness of the leeks and bacon was a lush experience. Served in a small glass bowl it was easy to get every last drop with a spoon.
62-degree egg topped with a truffle-honey sabayon flecked with bits of bacon.
Small pieces of peeled celery with a bit of a crunch from small squares of puff-pastry buttered squares and liveliness from garam masala were accompanied by a celery essence foam and delicate celery leaf.
Purple micro basil were snipped from a plant and positioned on top of heavenly, butter-poached lobster with sunchoke puree and a black-peppercorn fluid gel.
A miniature round cake dish with a pedestal was the holder for a cylinder of pink-peppercorn goat cheese topped with a green-herb sheet. A carrot soufflé and quail egg added more color and texture; an innovative and impressive dish.
Goat cheese cylinder
Simply satisfying, sautéed red snapper with leek-and-spinach sauce had clean uncluttered flavors. The fish was faultless.
Red snapper with leek-and-spinach sauce.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Spicy apricot sauce added depth to foie gras and apricot-filled chicken breast wrapped in a cabbage leaf; the chefs inventive version of stuffed cabbage.
A duo of rabbit, loin and a pressed rectangle, topped with apple-smoked bacon, was presented on a silver tray with whole-grain mustard and parsley sauce. Except for the glass bowl that held the egg and the rabbit, all the food was served on white plates of varying shapes.
The restaurant’s name was unmistakable in a dessert created with a slab of orange meringue and blood-orange foam topped vanilla ice cream. Mini meringue kisses and orange-and-olive-oil jam surrounded this inspired presentation.
We are always happy when our meal ends with chocolate and our tasting with a liquid-chocolate ganache encased in sprayed chocolate, brown-butter ice cream and a thick, chocolate pudding was a standout.
Miniature shortbread cookies topped with a dab of chocolate completed a memorable meal.
Invite your friends to join you, remember to BYO and GPS to find this restaurant—and start rolling your pennies now. Your table will be ready when you arrive, and there is no need to wait for a check when you leave. Learn new cooking techniques while watching your food being prepared, have your questions answered and plan on having a fun evening. Orange & Olive is a food lovers’ heaven. What a find!
Orange & Olive Caterers and Chef’s Table
398 Central Avenue
POP-UP BAKERY FOR PASSOVER
A gluten- and dairy-free, no preservatives, pop-up bakery for Passover, Tova’s All Natural, will be baking April 6 to April 14 at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 East Clinton Ave, Tenafly. Some of their offering include: flourless-chocolate tortes, lemon meringues, fresh-fruit tarts, almond-lemon tortes, and French macaroons. They can be picked up at the JCC or delivered to your home, either free with orders more than $150, or for an additional fee. Call 646-325-7026 or visit their website to order.
Battello has opened at 502 Washington Boulevard, Jersey City (201-798-1798), offering contemporary Italian based, seafood influenced menu from executive chef Ryan DePersio. The restaurant is located in the Newport Yacht Club with dramatic views of the New York skyline, dockside dining, two unique event spaces, private dining room, wine vault and bridal suite. Some menu items include: rock shrimp polpette; sea scallop crudo; zucchini and crispy artichoke insalata; house-made pastas; buttermilk-baked chicken; striped bass; and prawns scampi. In early spring, DePersio will unveil lunch and brunch menus.
Bind Chocolate, featuring handmade and decorated chocolates, has opened at 652 Anderson Ave, Cliffside Park (201-840-4005).
Burger Fi, offering all natural burgers, hot dogs, fries, and frozen custards, has opened at 385 George Street, New Brunswick (732-253-7778). This location serves beer and wine.
Burgers, salads, soups, omelets, pizza, chicken and much more are offered at Corrado’s Pizza & Wings, 501 3rd Street, Hammonton (609-567-8111).
Have a burger in a bowl, at the newly opened The Counter that features custom-built burgers using locally sourced and sustainable proteins, cheeses, toppings, sauces and buns. Salads, sandwiches and a full bar including cocktails, adult shakes, beer and wine iare available. This is how the custom burger works: choose a burger such as beer, turkey, tuna; pick a cheese; choose a sauce such as horseradish aioli, Thai peanut, BBQ; choose unlimited toppings; choose a bun and then choose a side. Whew…that’s a lot of choices, which the company states will give the customer over 312,120 plus different combinations. (374 Route 3 West, Clifton; 973-594-8700).
How fortunate we are in NJ to have access to a diversity of cuisine. Now Senegalese food is available at Diva’s Kitchen at 2614 Quakerbridge Road, Hamilton with items such as peanut-butter soup; curry chicken with brown rice, Sengalese fried shrimp and fufu (dough made from boiled and ground plantain or cassava) and okra soup; Halal. (609-981-7400).
The Grand Marquis in Old Bridge has been sold to the Kalavruzos and Panagiotopoulos families and will be used as a banquet space.
Ceviche, pollo a la brasa, chicken soup and vegetables accompanied by green alvergitas with pork juice, fried fish and beans, and many more Peruvian foods are offered at La Choza Nautica, 1166 Dickenson Street, Elizabeth (908-355-1800); BYO.
La Cucina Nouveau, an Italian restaurant, has opened at 167 Rt 9 S, Morganville (732-414-6822); BYO.
Ochun Restaurant, offering Cuban cuisine, has opened at 7812 Kennedy Blvd, North Bergen (201-552-9933).
Planet Mac, offering gourmet mac & cheese including mac & cheese ballsl, has opened at 219 Washington Street, Hoboken (201-752-6386).
Table 42, an Italian restaurant and bar, has opened at 42 N Sussex Street, Dover (973-361-2300). Previously the Laughing Lion restaurant was at this location.
Cask 171, Closter
The Millburn location of Garage, a restaurant that sold burgers, shakes, hot dogs and fries has closed. It will reopen in Newark. The web page states, “You can continue to enjoy your Garage favorites right around the corner at: Martini’s Bistro & Bar, 40 Main Street, Millburn. “
La Famiglia Pizzeria, Long Branch has closed, and word on the street is that another pizza place will be coming to this location.
Mamma Vittoria, 160 Franklin Ave, Nutley will change ownership as of April 1 and will now be a banquet facility along with off-premise catering. Gift certificates must be used by March 31. Information: 973-662-0142 or click here.
Top Chef Mike Isabella’s G Grab and Go restaurant that opened around May/June 2013 has closed. The 20-seat establishment featured sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
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