The Rosie Report: La Fiamma and Braun’s Tavern

The low-down on a traditional Italian spot in Harrison and a recent opening in Bloomfield.

La Fiamma Restaurant and Bar in Harrison

Although from the outside La Fiamma looks like a less than friendly neighborhood bar, do not let the setting keep you away from this traditional Italian restaurant. The food was good, service attentive and friendly, and prices reasonable. Wines by the glass had generous pours.

We listened to the specials being recited, without their prices, as we munched on bruschetta topped with diced tomatoes and hot bread served with peppery olive oil. Traditional old school Italian options are on the menu such as mussels or clams in a white wine or marinara sauce, pastas, chicken scarpariello, veal scallopini and shrimp scampi. All entrees are served with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Penne alla vodka. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Four people easily shared homemade mozzarella with tomato and basil and eggplant rollatini. There was not one pork dish on the menu so Lowell opted for his second favorite of a veal chop stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto di Parma in a Marsala wine and mushroom sauce. The chop was humongous, tender and thoroughly enjoyed. Roasted potatoes, broccoli and carrots accompanied the veal as well as an entrée of flavorful grilled rib eye steak with a peppercorn sauce. Penne alla vodka and osso bucco with homemade fettuccini were both satisfying. Desserts were uninspiring and not a “must” here. Choices included tira misu which we ordered, sorbet, cheesecake, flourless hot chocolate cake and apple pie.

Stuffed veal chop. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

There are some bang for your buck promotions with a $16.95 (plus tax and gratuity) prix fixe lunch menu from noon to 3pm that includes a choice of appetizer and entrée. From 3 to 6 PM daily, happy hour is celebrated and from Monday through Friday, also from 3 to 6 PM, there is a three-course dinner for $26.95; with a glass of wine or mixed cocktail $31.95 plus tax and gratuity. Want steak? At lunch and dinner, on Tuesday and Thursday, a 16-ounce Black Angus sirloin steak with mashed potatoes, string beans and a choice of soup or salad is $26.

Open Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM; Saturday 2:30 to 10:30 PM and Sunday 2:30 to 9:30 PM.

La Fiamma Restaurant and Bar, 440 Harrison Avenue, Harrison; 973-483-5455

Braun’s Tavern in Bloomfield

Lowell and I were invited for a complimentary press dinner at Braun’s, a casual neighborhood restaurant located in a late 1800s prohibition era tavern. Chef Michael Fiorianti, previously from Satis in Jersey City and Bloomfield, offers comfort food using locally sourced, farm fresh ingredients.

In the late 1800s the restaurant was called Braun’s, then the Firehouse Tavern followed by Satis Bistro and is now Braun’s again. A 40-foot solid wood bar, antique wood ice chest, tin ceilings along with old photos from the Bloomfield area all add to the ambiance.

Campanelle with spring peas, hazelnut pesto and marinated feta. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Dishes have inventive flavor combinations such as tempura maitake mushrooms with truffled fontina sauce; pierogis stuffed with curried cabbage, potato and English peas topped with a mint crème fraiche; Caesar salad created with kale and chicory; and a pasta dish that colorfully combined campanelle with spring peas, hazelnut pesto and marinated feta. Along with salads and burgers, some entrees, which reminded us of childhood dinners, included pot roast made with local Angus brisket, half roasted chicken and mushroom stroganoff and schnitzel. Appetizers range from $3 for a deviled egg to $14 for an oxtail and fois gras terrine. A grilled NY strip steak is $27 with other entrees priced in the low $20 range.

Pot roast. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Four tempting house made desserts were offered: Irish Car Bomb; apple strudel; churros with espresso chocolate sauce and our pick of a not often seen lemon raspberry Pavlova topped with shortbread cookie crumble.

Along with cocktails, craft beers and wines there is a large selection of American bourbons and whiskeys. A daily happy hour is held from 3 to 7 PM and 9 to 11 PM.

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM for lunch and dinner; brunch served on weekends.

Braun’s Tavern & Dining Room, 289 Glenwood Avenue, Bloomfield; 973-743-1097

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