ARIANE KITCHEN & BAR, VERONA
Most of us have heard about chef Ariane because of the well-deserved rave reviews she has received at CulinAriane in Montclair and her stint on the TV show, Top Chef Season 5. However, her credentials are more extensive. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York; worked as a sous chef at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange; The Terrance in NYC; Star Canyon in Dallas; Trio in Chicago; executive chef at Vine in Basking Ridge; and was an assistant for one of Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks. Her husband Michael, also a CIA grad, manages the dining room and business.
Ariane Kitchen & Bar is a casual and friendly restaurant, where you can sit at the bar, one of the three communal tables or in the dining room and have anything from a light snack to a dinner. We were there for dinner and ordered off of the snacks, starters and mains sections of the menu. Most entrees are in the $20 range with the most expensive being the braised short ribs for $34 and the least expensive, the AKB burger, for $16.
We loved the crispy croissants topped with honey, which were also a favorite of ours at CulinAriane’s. Two other popular items found on the menu from chef Ariane’s previous restaurant were: cornmeal-crusted oysters with horseradish cream; and sashimi tuna flower, with wonton crisps, wasabi crème fraiche and pickled cucumbers.
Starters were savory prosciutto and Gruyere beignets, which were a favorite at our table as were the roasted Fall squashes with pumpkin oil, pepitas, crispy pancetta and an aged sherry vinaigrette. While the forest mushroom ragout was a hardy dish, we would have liked more cheese in the cheese grits. The homey Cuban pork sandwich with pork, ham, homemade pickles and grain mustard was deliciously rich and can easily be shared. The one disappointment the whole evening were the pretzel bites with a bland beer cheese sauce.
Entrees were solid and as impressive as the food we’ve eaten at CulinAriane. Bacon onion jam, Brussels sprouts and grits accompanied the tender juniper-cured porterhouse pork chop creating a multi-flavored well-balanced dish. A very respectable piece of seared salmon with a cranberry vinaigrette was perfectly cooked medium rare and enhanced with a healthy combination of roasted cauliflower, kale, lentils, and confit pine nuts. The delicate grilled branzino with lemon preserve, fingerling potato, red onion and fennel confit was another winner and vanished quickly from the plate. Comforting and satisfying desserts included banana-cream pie with banana custard, whipped cream and a chocolate crust and a Meyer lemon layer cake with ricotta panna cotta, white chocolate mousse and a lemon mousse.
We dined here on a Saturday night and when we left the bar was three deep and all three communal tables were filled. Make a reservation. Also, be forewarned you may be seen but not heard as this is a very noisy restaurant.
Welcome back Ariane and Michael. Your concept on dining has changed but your dedication to serving flavorsome, quality food has not.
Ariane Kitchen & Bar is open from 4 PM Wednesday through Monday, closed Tuesday.
Salmon with roasted cauliflower, kale, lentils, pine nuts and a cranberry vinaigrette.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Ariane Kitchen & Bar
706 Bloomfield Avenue
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