Restaurant News

This week Rosie tells us about the latest news from the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse; the newly opened Pig & Prince in Montclair; two uncles, Uncle Vinnie’s Clam Bar in Raritan and Uncle Moustache in Montclair; the Epicurean Palette in Hamilton, and much more news about NJ restaurants.

RYLAND INN UPDATE
“We want our guests to feel like they are walking into someone’s home,” general manager Yasir Chaudhry from the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, recently told Table Hopping With Rosie. “There’s going to be a different approach to service.” What does that mean? When the anxiously anticipated opening—hopefully by late September—occurs, patrons will not be greeted by a host/hostess standing behind a desk. “When you greet someone into your home you’re not standing behind a desk or talking on the phone,” says Chaudhry. Instead, the greeter will be carrying a shoulder bag/purse with an iPad that lists the reservations. There will be no phones at the front of the restaurant, calls will be answered only in the office. Guests may even receive a welcome gift, Chaudhry says. “Perhaps on a hot summer day we’ll have a glass of cold, fresh-made lemonade with verbena,” he tells us. Guests’ coats will be waiting for them at the coat check, cars will be waiting with the heat or air conditioning on, and other homey touches are planned. Sounds like some guests may come for dinner and never want to leave! But down the road, once the hotel is open they can do that! Owners Frank and Jeanne Cretella, the ultimate hostesses, along with Chaudhry, have assembled a team of experts including, executive chef Anthony Bucco, chef de cuisine Craig Polignano, and general manager Ed Torres. We wish them the best.

The Ryland Inn is now offering preview dinners with a limited menu and wine list. They will be donating 20% of net sales to Riding with Heart, a Hunterdon County based organization that helps disabled children through assisted equestrian recreation and therapy. Reservations will only be accepted through the restaurant at (908-534-4011). Grand opening date is September 25.

More information will be on Table Hopping With Rosie as it comes in.

Guests being greeted at a pre-opening party.

Ryland Inn patio.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.

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PIG & PRINCE RESTAURANT & GASTRO-LOUNGE, MONTCLAIR
A few months ago Lowell and I had a hard-hat tour of Pig & Prince in Montclair. The place—let me put this nicely—needed a lot of work. When chef/owner Michael Carrino told us that he expected to be open by the end of August we rolled our eyes and bit our cheeks to stop ourselves from laughing out loud. The space, formerly the Lackawanna train terminal originally opened in 1913, closed in February 1981. Well, the laugh is on us. He opened his restaurant and the place is gorgeous.

When you walk into the restaurant there is a lounge area with an original wooden bench from the terminal’s waiting room. In the dining room, which seats 80, buff-colored brick walls remain, as does the marble-chip terrazzo floor. At the bar, there is a foot rail stamped Lackawanna 1912; nice find. On the rear wall, there is a cast-bronze clock and a drinking fountain surrounded by grapevine tiles. All original. Surrounding the drinking fountain are two niches; one now has a pig statue and one holds a crown. They symbolize the Pig and Prince. Another new item is a whimsical mural of pigs playing around pots.

Pig & Prince dining room.

In addition to this fabulous space, designed and restored by Serge Hunkins of Kadan Productions Inc, is the cooking of executive chef/owner Mike Carrino. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Carrino previously owned Passionne in Montclair and was a winner on Food Network’s Chopped.

The current menu features modern American cuisine, using local seasonal produce and meats, as well as beers, wines, and cocktails. The two-sided bar seats 50. The menu is a work in progress, according to Carrino, but the house-cured meats, which hang in a special curing room are a staple. Pizziettes—we had the pork belly and sautéed kale with zesty peach marmalade—are cooked in a pizza oven, which is also used to bake the breads served in the restaurant. The menu is broken down into Starters: try the rich roast pork jus French onion soup; Pizziette: pastas and risottos, offered as half or full portion; From the Sea; From the Farm; and From the Forest. Carrino has a deft hand with sauces and both the broth in the onion soup and sauce on the rabbit fricassee were superb. A five-course tasting, five-course vegetarian, or seven-course chef’s tasting is available with or without pairings. The “Chef’s Companion,” served in the kitchen, is available Tuesday through Thursday, by reservations only, and includes 10 to 14 courses with pairings for $185, all inclusive. Nice gift for a special occasion or the holidays,

Meats in curing room.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.

Pig & Prince Restaurant & Gastro-Lounge
1 Lackawanna Plaza
Montclair, NJ
973-233-1006
www.pigandprince.com

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UNCLE VINNIE’S CLAM BAR, RARITAN
Uncle Vinnie’s Clam Bar, 5 E Somerset St, Raritan (908-526-9887), is a casual seafood restaurant that has been open for 23 years and is named for the original owner’s uncle. New owners took over in 2007 and retained the name. Upon entering this eatery, check out the fresh fish, oysters, clams, lobsters, and much more, on display. There are deliveries daily, and judging from the pristine fish, which we had, this place is a gem. Be forewarned though specials, while printed out, do not have prices. Reservations are not taken and the place was packed even on a Monday night. In addition to the raw bar and fish, pasta and a few chicken dishes are available.

Italian bread and butter are placed on the table when seated. Ask for the rosemary /garlic infused olive oil, which was much tastier than the plain butter. Better yet, order the garlic bread. We didn’t but saw it served to an adjoining table and it looked delicious. We started with a “small” seafood salad that after we finished eating, I said to Lowell, “Well, that was dinner.” It was so large and jam-packed with seafood that it should be listed in the entrée section of the menu. And it was damn good, with shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels in their shells, scungilli, red and yellow pepper, onions, celery, onions, tomatoes, and mixed greens, with a lemon/herb vinaigrette, all perfectly fresh and tasty. Entrees include the sweetest, brown-crusted, perfectly cooked scallops that we have had in a long time, served with a mixed salad. Grouper was cooked in a white-wine butter sauce accompanied with penne pasta and fresh diced tomatoes. While the quality of the fish was excellent the sauce was bland and needed salt and pepper to give is some oomph. Only three desserts were available: cannoli, red velvet cake, and our choice: a creamy chocolate espresso cheese cake. Wine by the glass at $7 was a generous pour. Two doors down, there is also an Uncle Vinnie’s Market, which sells fish and carry out, seats about 12, and is BYO.

Uncle Vinnie’s seafood salad.

Uncle Vinnie’s scallops.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein.

Uncle Vinnie’s Clam Bar
5 E Somerset Street
Raritan, NJ
908-526-9887

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UNCLE MOUSTACHE, MONTCLAIR

Do you like Stacy’s Pita Chips? We love them and find them more addictive then potato chips. However, we have found something better and luckily it doesn’t come in a bag. Uncle Moustache, a Lebanese restaurant in Montclair makes fresh warm pita chips, from bread hot out of the oven and serves it in the fatouch salad. The salad has greens, tomato, cucumber, radish, onion, sumac, and a very tasty vinaigrette and crunch from the chips. “I want a bowl of these I told the waiter.” What also makes them special is that you can watch the pita maker, who works behind a small counter in the dining room, roll out the dough, pop it in the oven, take out the puffed, cloud-like bread, and bring it into the kitchen. You can also order regular or whole wheat pita a la carte which he rolls out to order and brings hot from the oven to your table.

We tried the combination mezze plate that has creamy labne (homemade yogurt), rhaib (grilled eggplant with red bell pepper, cucumber, onion and mint), hummus, babagannouj, and spinach and chickpeas. We’d order any of them again, except the spinach and chickpeas, which were too watery and under seasoned. We liked the smoothness and subtle spiciness in the yellow lentil soup and adored an eggplant, tomato and chickpea casserole. It’s $8 and a small portion. Next time, we’ll order two ’cause I’m not sharing! Ouzi, was a very filling dish and something we had never seen before. Spicy-white meat chicken pieces (it can also be ordered with lamb) were combined with carrots, peas, onions, raisins, almonds, basmati rice, and spices and enclosed in flaky filo dough. A thin yogurt sauce was served on the side. Pitza’s are offered in various combinations with the pita bread as the base, with or without mozzarella. Our green pitza, with leeks, scallions and herbs was not as crunchy as a thin-crust pizza, but got flavor from the toppings. Kebab’s are available as well as sandwiches, (falalel and schawarma, for example) and of course, baklava is available for dessert. Uncle Moustache is open daily. BTW—the food is inexpensive; our bill with tax and tip was $20 a person.

Fatouch salad with crispy pita chips.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Uncle Moustache
702 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, NJ
973-233-9500
BYO

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EPICUREAN PALETTE, HAMILTON
On September 30, stroll Grounds For Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, at the Epicurean Palette and sample offerings from 25 chefs, as well as chocolatiers, wine, beer, and spirit tastings. Along with Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds For Sculpture, participants include: the Brother’s Moon in Hopewell; Chez Alice Catering in Hopewell; Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville; Daryl Wine Bar in New Brunswick; Eno Terra in Princeton; Kuzina by Sofia in Cherry Hill; the Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield; the Peacock Inn in Princeton; Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Princeton; Salt Creek Grille in Princeton; and Sbraga in Philadelphia, PA (owned and operated by Bravo’s Top Chef winner, Kevin Sbraga). 1 to 4 PM (rain or shine); $120; member, $99; VIP, $225, includes a private tour of Seward Johnson’s studio, the VIP lounge and special treats. For tickets, call 609-586-0616.

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PILSENER HAUS BIERGARTEN, HOBOKEN
Oktoberfest will be celebrated from September 14 to the end of October at Pilsener Haus Biergarten, 1422 Grand Street, Hoboken (201-683-5465) with special Oktoberfest biers, traditional German brews, premium imports, and American craft beers, as well as Austro-Hungarian favorites, including cod filet schnitzel, schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock), kasespatzle (cheese noodle casserole), Hungarian beef goulash, apple strudel and more. There will be keg-tapping, mug-holding contests, and other traditional Oktoberfest events.

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HEALTHY CARE PACKAGE FROM SICKLES, LITTLE SILVER

Sickles Market, 1 Harrison Ave, Little Silver, has special Healthy College Care Package that can be mailed to your college-age students which includes: Treats by Eileen, vanilla almond gourmet granola; Smart Puffs baked cheese puffs; Sickles Market cinnamon yogurt pretzels; Stonewall Kitchen wild Maine blueberry jam; Kashi TLC trail mix chewy granola bars; Tates’ chocolate chip cookies; and The Peanut Butter Co. Smooth Operator; $50 plus shipping. The store also has healthy back-to-school snacks for students of all ages, including parents! For more information log onto: http://shop.sicklesmarket.com/

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GUY FIERI ON CAMPUS RESTAURANT
Along with a Dunkin’ Donuts and a SubConnection sandwich shop the new food court at Montclair State University’s Blanton Hall in Montclair will house Guy Fieri On Campus, the first of a planned chain of nationwide campus restaurants from the celebrity chef. Some menu items include sandwiches, pasta, tacos, quesadillas, rice bowls, salads, soups, burritos, and chicken wings three ways.

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FESTA ITALIANA AT CHEF CENTRAL, PARAMUS
On Saturday, September 22, Johnny "Meatballs" DeCarlo and Megin DeCarlo of Johnny Meatballs Catering will be at Chef Central, 240 Route 17, Paramus as part of the Festa Italiana. “Johnny’s Meatballs In Sunday Gravy,” as well as cuisine by other vendors, will be for sale at this outdoor event. There will also be pizza, sausage, pasta, and fresh mozzarella demonstrations. Noon to 3 PM. Everything Italian will be 20 percent off all day. For information, call Chef Central at 201-576-0100.

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CHARITY EVENTS
On September 24, approximately 35 restaurants, local wineries, and breweries will offer samples at the 21st Annual Culinary Classic, featuring a taste of the Jersey Shore’s best restaurants and wineries. The event, held at The Mill at Spring Lake Heights, 101 Old Mill Road, Spring Lake Heights, will benefit The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. 5 to 9 PM; $75. Tickets may be purchased by calling 732-918-2600 or online at www.foodbankmoc.org.

Rose Mediterranean Restaurant, 435 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell (BYO) will host a “Dine to Donate” from Tuesday, September 18 through Thursday, September 20 with 10 percent of all lunch and dinner sales donated to the “Greater NJ Walk to end Alzheimer’s Disease” and the Alzheimer’s Association. Reservations: 973-403-7673.

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DINING DEAL
On September 17, a Prime Rib Night will be held at Ciao Ristorante, 75 A Brighton Ave, Long Branch featuring a 16-ounce prime rib served with salad, baked potato, and vegetable for $21.95. Reservations: 732-222-3357.

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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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