—Just over a month ago we announced the opening of Stern & Bow in Closter, and the return of restaurateur Russell Stern to the local dining scene. Now we have some more good, and slightly unexpected, news to share about the place: in what seems like a pretty good omen for opening month, on October 19, Anton Schermer found a pearl in one of the oysters he was enjoying at the restaurant’s 33-foot quartz raw bar. Schermer, a Tenafly native who was dining with his wife Sheryl, had in fact already slurped up his fourth oyster when he felt a small pebble-like object rolling around in his mouth. Further inspection revealed the object was none other than the beginnings of a small pearl. What makes the discovery even more special is the oyster in which the pearl was found: according to Stern & Bow’s resident shucker and oyster expert Kevin Joseph, it’s extremely rare to find a pearl in the cold water Taylor Kumamoto oysters that Schermer and his wife had been eating. “It’s a once in a lifetime event.” No word as to whether the Schermers are holding onto the pearl or left it in lieu of tip. Stern & Bow, 171 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; 201-750-3350
—Chicken fingers, even “damn good” ones, might not seem like enough to support an entire culinary concept, but don’t tell that to the folks behind Sticky’s, the funky fast-casual Manhattan-based chicken finger joint now operating in its second New Jersey location in Bridgewater for just over a month. As with the first Jersey location in Paramus, the menu here is, no shock, anchored by a colorful variety of chicken finger options (General Tso, Salted Caramel Pretzel, garlic-jacked “Vampire Killer” chicken fingers, etc.), but they also have a surprising variety of sauces for the make-your-own crowd—S’Mores, Vindaloo BBQ, Chipotle Aioli, Hot Honey & Caramel, etc.). The chicken is reasonably priced and, reportedly, very juice. (Napkins, no doubt, are plentiful.) Sticky’s, 640 Commons Way, Suite 4240, Bridgewater; 908-655-1117
In the Works:
—Vineland has its Italian roots; now it’s getting a fairly immediate connection to the Old Country by way of Rovagnati USA, a Lombardi-based meat processing company makings it first foray into the American market with a 64,000-square-foot facility. Rovagnati products are already available in shops and markets in New Jersey as well as places like Amazon and Eataly, but the opening brings a new level of local production and product availability (and pricing). Rovagnati itself is known for its high-standard Gran Biscotto, a “prosciutto cotto” or cooked ham, but the range of products available to the U.S. market—including a nitrite- and nitrate-free “Naturals” line—is likely to expand. The family-run business has plans to expand to 500,000 square-feet of production space in the next five years, i.e. carnivores rejoice. No word yet on exact opening date, but it’s very much early days. Rovagnati USA, Vineland; [email protected]
—Some chains fade away, others emerge to take their place. In this case it’s the TGI Friday’s in Flemington—closed for some time now—being replaced by the modest-but-growing Red Crab Seafood chain. The restaurant has locations mostly along the East Coast (as in up and very far down, to Florida), but this marks its first in New Jersey. The menu is anchored by a “Make Your Own Seafood Combo” section, but you can also get Po’ Boys, fried stuff, and, for some reason, a side of two boiled eggs. No word on opening date, yet, but closer to weeks/months. Red Crab Seafood, 294 Route 202, Flemington; no phone yet.
—Hot Plate Southern Kitchen has closed its doors after fewer than six months in operation on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. The restaurant, which took over the former space of Vital Dining, was an import from Bethlehem, PA, and specialized in homey southern staples like Fried Chicken and Peach Waffles, Honey-dipped Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, and Baked Mac n’ Cheese. The reason for the sudden and unexpected closure aren’t entirely clear, and at least for a time the restaurant simply seemed to be renovating, but space eventually emptied out and the sign was removed. No word as to what might come to occupy the restaurant-shuffling space just yet. Hot Plate Southern Kitchen, 387 Bloomfield Avenue, MontclairClick here to leave a comment