MOONSHINE MODERN SUPPER CLUB
When we entered the MoonShine Modern Supper Club, 55 Main Street, Millburn, we were charmed by the stunning antique distressed oak bar, smoked mirrors, and wallpaper depicting colorful animals. From the bar area we walked into the dramatic bi-level space, where the first floor has an open kitchen, brown tufted banquettes and chairs, and a communal table. Upstairs there are red tartan-backed banquettes with buttery yellow leather seats, low-slung modern wood chairs, and white tablecloths. Doors close off a private dining room that seats seventeen and also has a private terrace.
Start with a seasonal specialty cocktail or an update on a classic such as the OMG (fresh grilled peaches, lime-peel clarified butter, clover honey, potato vodka, white wine) or the Bee’s Knees (Hendrick’s gin, fresh lemon, honey). Or try one of 30 bottled beers or 20 drafts, one of 50 wines by the glass in 3- or 6-ounce pours, or one of 50 bottles from the reserve list. We had a 2010 Perrin Nature Côtes du Rhône priced at $34 for the bottle, $9 for a 6-ounce pour, and $5 for a 3-ounce pour.
Executive chef Francis Falivene, who was the opening chef at Ora in Morristown and City Bistro in Hoboken, offers a contemporary American menu where diners can opt for a light meal of items from the raw bar, charcuterie and cheeses, or pizza, or a substantial meal with entrées and sides. Co-owners Victor Delapa and Joseph San Philip, the latter a double-certified sommelier, are affiliated with the Brass Rail in Hoboken, where culinary director Douglas Gough has been the executive chef since 2003.
All of the appetizers from a recent dinner could be recommended, but our favorite was the impressive cauliflower purée soup with curry-spiced crème fraîche and cracked pistachios. Eggs played not only a supporting role but also added depth to two dishes. The frisée salad with blue cheese and bacon lardons was topped with a poached egg, and the duck-leg hash was accessorized with a poached duck egg topped with hollandaise sauce. Sweet rather than white potatoes also added interest to the hash, a must-try dish. A tangy frisée salad with chickpeas, piquillo pepper, and paprika oil served as a base for spiced shrimp. Finally, the truffled gnocchi and meatballs with pancetta and mushrooms was bolstered by a sherry cream sauce, for a crowd-pleasing dish. We had a side of wild mushroom risotto with roasted butternut squash and a truffle butter sauce served in a small black skillet, which can be ordered as an entrée. Our advice is to do just that and share this fabulous dish. Another entrée that we will certainly order on a return visit is the seared ahi tuna accompanied by braised borlotti beans, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and a romesco sauce, which had layers of complementary flavors and liveliness. And next time we’ll try the prime 28-day dry-aged steak from DeBragga and Spitler, a top-quality meat purveyor. The duck a l’orange with celery root purée was tender, as was the braised short rib of beef, which came with addictive Cheddar grits. Whole branzino was fresh tasting and juicy, and we couldn’t stop munching on the French fries that filled the plate. We did manage to try a few desserts and loved the key lime tart and caramelized apple crumb tart with creamy hazelnut gelato, from Piece of Cake located in Rahway.
MoonShine is open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner daily from 5 PM, and for brunch on weekends. Complimentary parking is at 75 Main Street (enter on Taylor Street) Monday to Friday from 6:30 PM and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. For reservations, call 973-218-6042.
Seared ahi tuna with braised borlotti beans, chorizo, tomatoes, and romesco sauce.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.
NICO KITCHEN & BAR, NEWARK
Diners will have a new option in mid-February when Nico Kitchen & Bar opens at NJPAC, replacing Theater Square Grill. This small-plates, “Italian without borders” restaurant concept comes from Chef Ryan DePersio of Fascino (Montclair) and Bar Cara (Bloomfield). Nico is a nickname for the chef’s six-year-old son, Nicholas.
The restaurant, at 1 Center Street (973-642-1226), will be open for lunch and dinner and will feature a sophisticated happy hour with cocktails and specially priced bites. Theatergoers can opt for a value-priced, three-course, more traditional prix-fixe menu, which will be offered on performance nights.
UPCOMING CHARITY EVENTS
On Sunday, February 5, Blue Point Grill, 258 Nassau Street, Princeton, will host Oyster Bowl XIII to benefit Komen for the Cure. The event will include an oyster-eating contest, lunch, raffle, and kids’ activities. 11 AM to 2 PM. For more information and to register for the contest, log on to http://oysterbowlnj.com.
On February 8, a cooking class taught by chef/restaurateur Marilyn Schlossbach, From Land to Sea: Cooking With Marilyn, will be held at Langosta Lounge, Third Avenue Pavilion, 1000 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, to benefit Clean Ocean Action. 6:30 PM; $50 including dinner. For more information and to reserve your ticket, call 732-455-3275 or e-mail [email protected].
ADVANCED CULINARY CLASS AT RAT’S, HAMILTON
A four-week advanced culinary class with executive chef Shane Cash will be held at Rat’s Restaurant, Grounds for Sculpture, 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton. The class will emphasize fabrication, butchering, sauce making, and presentation. Session one starts on February 6 for four Mondays, and session two will be on Tuesdays starting February 7; 6 PM; $355. Class size is limited to twelve students. To register, call 609-584-7800.
SHANNON ROSE IRISH PUB, RAMSEY
There’s no need to wait for St Patrick’s Day, with the opening of Shannon Rose Irish Pub, 1200 Route 17 North, Ramsey (201-962-7602). The restaurant has a full menu with American and Irish fare, including corned beef spring rolls, wings, shepherd’s pie, Guinness beef stew, corned beef and cabbage, sliders, prime rib, chicken, grilled steak, and fish of the day. Desserts include Bailey’s Irish Cream ladyfingers, Irish soda bread pudding, and decadent chocolate peanut butter landslide cake.
Shannon Rose has two large, open dining areas, with two large bars and flat-screen televisions located throughout the pub. A semiprivate dining area can be used for family and corporate gatherings. During warmer months, a patio will provide outdoor dining by a fire pit. Twenty beers are on tap, including Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s, as well as other popular imports, regional craft beers, and domestic favorites. The specialty drink menu features seasonal mixed drinks, Scotch malts, and Irish whiskeys, and there’s an extensive wine list. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 AM to 2 AM. There are also locations in Clifton and Woodbridge.
HOSPITALITY MONDAYS AT URSINO, UNION
Employees in the hotel and restaurant industry and one guest can dine at Ursino, Liberty Hall Campus of Kean University, 1075 Morris Avenue, Union, on a Monday and receive a 20 percent discount off the entire check. This Hospitality Mondays promotion is in effect through February 27, except February 13. Reservations: 908-249-4099.
NEWS FROM EXECUTIVE CHEF ZOD ARIFAI
Daryl, 302 George Street, New Brunswick (732-253-7780), is now open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and for dinner daily.
Next Door, 556 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair (973-744-3600), has reopened with some menu changes; BYO.
Blu, 554 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair (973-509-2202), will reopen on Thursday, February 2; BYO.
Please send press releases and restaurant news, including information on staff changes, wine tastings, and cooking classes, to [email protected].