Restaurant News

This week Rosie tells us about the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse; Casa Vasca in Newark; Taste of the Quarter at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City; Dining Deals and lots more New Jersey restaurant news.

UPDATE: RYLAND INN, WHITEHOUSE
There is a dream team in place at the soon-to-be opened Ryland Inn (15 Old Highway 28, Whitehouse), where Anthony Bucco is executive chef. Chef de cuisine is Craig Polignano; Yasir Chaudhry, general manager; and Ed Torres is restaurant manager. Do the names sound familiar? Bucco was the executive chef at Uproot in Warren. Polognano is an alum of the Ryland Inn and was previously at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, California and also at the Bernards Inn, Bernardsville. Chaudhry served as GM at Picholine in New York City, and also as director of operations at the Ryland Inn from 2002 to 2004—he began his career as a busboy there. Torres previously worked at Stage Left and Catherine Lombardi’s in New Brunswick. We recently had a hardhat tour. Once finished, hopefully by early September, this restaurant will be restored to its former glory…only better.

Construction on the front of the Ryland Inn.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

The Ryland Inn was originally built in 1796 and owners Frank and Jeanne Cretella of Landmark Hospitality (Liberty House Restaurant, Jersey City; Stone House at Stirling Ridge, Warren; Celebrate at Snug Harbor, Staten Island; and Crave Caterers) are restoring the front to resemble its 1800s façade. The Cretellas are using reclaimed items where possible. General manager, Chaudhry says, “Patrons will be delighted when they arrive, and can expect great, enhanced service.”

A main kitchen and separate catering kitchen is planned. A glass-enclosed chef’s table, which seats 12, offers a view of the main kitchen, and can be reserved for special chef’s tasting dinners. Chef Bucco will feature an à la carte, moderately priced, New American menu. The main dining room, with French doors looking out to the bluestone patio, seats 60 to 75 and will have a 22-foot fireplace—one of six—with a stucco and brick inlay wall.

Patio being built at the Ryland Inn.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Plans are to launch with à la carte dining, which will include Sunday brunch, and in about one year to open the 6,500-square foot food banquet/event space. A separate bread-baking/pastry-making cottage will produce breads, cakes and wedding cakes for all of the Landmark Hospitality restaurants. An on-staff gardener will oversee the restaurant’s vegetables, fruit and herbs, which will be stored in the newly built root cellar. The converted barn will serve as a cooking studio and double as an event space. All of the cottages on the ten-and-a-half acres will be remodeled. A hotel is planned to open about three years down the road.

Look for future updates on The Ryland Inn at Table Hopping With Rosie.

General manager Yasir Chaudhry, Executive chef Anthony Bucco and Restaurant manager Ed Torres at the Ryland Inn.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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CASA VASCA, NEWARK

Casa Vasca (141 Elm Street, Newark; 973-465-1350) is always packed, even for lunch, so we made an early reservation—six-ish on a weekday—and were pleased to experience a quiet dinner in an almost empty dining room. However, by the time we left, around nine-ish, every table was filled and the place was hopping. Open since 1976, this restaurant consistently serves first-rate food. Portions are tremendous, prices reasonable and service efficient.

Soup is part of the meal here and changes daily. Ours was a thick chickpea, vegetable, and Spanish sausage that, chock-full of ingredients, could easily pass as a stew. Shrimp swimming in a garlic sauce followed the soup— perfect to dip those crunchy, warm Portuguese rolls in. We opted for halibut with clams served with a light red sauce; chicken with rice; crispy garlic chicken; broiled swordfish; and veal liver with onions. A large platter of yellow rice and Spanish potatoes—similar to homemade potato chips—was served family style. All entrees were noteworthy. After this most filling and scrumptious meal, which we washed down with a pitcher of red sangria, we left Casa Vasca satiated and with smiles on our faces. Another plus is that the restaurant has its own parking lot. Call for reservations.

Veal liver with onions.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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RESTAURANT NICHOLAS, MIDDLETOWN
On August 23, a six-course “Tastes of the Sea” dinner will be served at 6:45 pm at Restaurant Nicholas (160 Route 35 S, Middletown); $125; with wine pairings $175; plus tax and gratuity. The following menu will be presented:

Cape May salt oyster, Dashi Meyer lemon
(N/V Cramant, Grand Cru, Cuvée Restaurant Nicholas, Diebolt-Vallois)

New Jersey Canyon Bluefin tuna, avocado, caviar wasabi
(2011 Vouvray, Le Mont Sec, Domaine Huet)

Jersey blue crab, baked potato, sea urchin, Old Bay
(2011 Luberon Rose, Domaine de la Citadelle)

Barnegat Light scallop, bacon, corn
(2010 Sonoma Coast, Chardonnay, Juliana Layla)

Jersey coast lobster, heirloom tomato, anise hyssop
(2009 Santenay Rouge, Olivier Leflaive)

Jersey Shore dessert
(2011 Moscato d’Asti, G.D. Vajra)

Reservations: 732-345-9977.

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TASTE OF THE QUARTER, ATLANTIC CITY
On August 27, “Taste of The Quarter” benefiting the United Way of Atlantic County, will be held at the Tropicana Casino And Resort (2831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City) featuring dishes from Fin, Il Verdi, Carmine’s, The Palm, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, Red Square, P F Chang’s, Ri-Ra Irish Pub, A Time for Wine, A Dam Good Sports Bar, Starbucks, Zeytina, James’ Candies, Tango’s Beer Garden, and more. 6 to 9 pm; $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the event. Tickets can be purchased at the IMAX box office, located on the third floor of The Quarter; at ticketmaster.com; by calling 1-800-745-3000; or the United Way office. Guests for “Taste of The Quarter” must be 21 older.

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DINING DEALS

David Burke Fromagerie (26 Ridge Road, Rumson; 732-842-8088) celebrates happy hour everyday from 4 to 7 pm and all night on Fridays. The restaurant offers complimentary bar food, discounted drinks, snacks, and nibblers, such as white-bean and black-olive spread; foie gras, apple and pistachio; and shrimp cocktail with horseradish served in jars.

Indigo Kitchen (615 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair; 973-707-2950) offers jazz on Thursdays from 6 to 9 pm, along with a barbecue dinner special: 2 slabs of ribs for $25, plus fries and slaws. Monday through Friday before 6:30 pm, any appetizer, entrée and side is $15. Call for reservations; BYO.

Ram’s Head Inn (9 West White Horse Pike, Galloway; 609-652-1700) is offering a special $25 summer pre-fixe, three-course lunch, Tuesday through Friday from noon to 3 pm. Call for reservations.

During August, Rat’s Restaurant, Grounds for Sculpture (16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton; 609-584-7800) is offering a three-course, $39 prix-fixe dinner from Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 7:30 pm, which includes admission to the Grounds for Sculpture, plus complimentary ice cream in the gazebo. Call for reservations.

Trattoria Il Mulino (Trump Taj Mahal, 1000 Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue, Atlantic City) is offering a four-course Jazz Brunch every Sunday, 10 am and 3 pm. Adults, $25.50; children ages 2 to 10 years, $13.50; children under 2, free. For a limited time, guests that bring a Il Mulino New York or Trattoria Il Mulino dinner receipt from the previous night, will receive a complimentary Bloody Mary, prosecco Mimosa or prosecco Bellini.

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CONGRATULATIONS

Chocolatier Diane Pinder, owner of Donna & Company, won the following from the International Chocolate Salon:

Donna Toscana pistachio brittle and sea salt bar gold award for Best Mixed Bar, silver award for Best Ingredient Combinations, a bronze award for Best Texture and bronze for Most Unique.

The Cocoa Bee caramels won a bronze award for Best Packaging and a bronze for Most Unique.

Pinder is known for her hand-crafted artisanal chocolates and can be found at www.shopdonna.com.

Valley Shepherd Creamery (50 Fairmount Road, Long Valley; valleyshepherd.com) won second place as top cheese in the United States for its Crema de Blue cheese at the American Cheese Society competition on August 4 in Raleigh, NC. Valley Shepherd Creamery cheeses can be found at Farmer’s Markets, farm-owned retail shops and restaurants.

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LOOKING AHEAD
Agricola Community Eatery will open this fall in the former Lahiere’s location (11 Witherspoon Street, Princeton). A rustic American menu will be featured with organic ingredients from Great Road Farm in Skillman and other local growers and producers. Lahiere’s closed in November 2010. The executive chef is New Jersey native Josh Thomsen. For more information, visit agricolaeatery.com.

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Please send press releases and restaurant news, including information on staff changes, wine tastings, and cooking classes, to [email protected].

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