The Rosie Report: Pizza, Paella and Pasta

Restaurants to try in Caldwell, Whippany and Clifton.

DOUGH ARTISAN PIZZERIA, CALDWELL
Dough, which has been open since February 2013, is not a bread bakery but a restaurant specializing in hand-crafted seasonal cuisine and wood-fired pizzas. Chef/owner Ed Simmons, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, partners with local farmers and believes in using the freshest prime ingredients. Put this gem on your go-to list.

Dough pizza

Do not bypass their thin, crisp and charred pizzas. We opted for the traditional Margherita with meatballs but inventive options are available such as the ultra-healthy winter vegan topped with house-made cashew cheese, garlic, kalamata olives, red onions, mushrooms and tomato sauce and the B&B pizza created with bresaola, hot cherry peppers, marinara, house-made burrata, oregano and a balsamic drizzle.

Salads are large and can easily be shared. Refreshing and colorful kale was paired with diced apples, cranberries, sunflower seeds, Parmesan and apple cider vinaigrette; a harmonious composition.

Kale salad

Another scene-stealer was an artistic combination of shredded butternut-squash spaghetti with beets, spinach, mushrooms, garlic and E.V.O.O.

Butternut squash spaghetti

Small plates and pastas are also available and we can recommend the meatballs, crunchy zucchini crisps or sweet potato gnocchi. Kudos to chef Simmons who butchers the whole pig in house and uses humanly raised meat and free-range chickens.

If you must have dessert, the few locally made menu items may include chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, personal apple pie served in a pan, brownie with sea salt and caramel and ice cream.

The décor at Dough is cozy and whimsical. Wood that has been recycled from a 19th-century chicken barn is used throughout the restaurant. Farm-themed photos from Circle Brook Farm in Andover adorn the walls and chicken wire covers one of the windows into the kitchen. In the warmer months, an outdoor garden is available.

Open for lunch Tuesday thought Saturday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Dough Artisan Pizzeria, 437 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell; 973-226-3300; doughartisanpizzeria.com BYO.

ROSIE’S SHOUT OUTS

MESON BARCELONA, CLIFTON
Our favorite tapas at Meson Barcelona were croquettes made with Serrano ham and manchego cheese accompanied by a scrumptious sweet-paprika sauce as well as a classic Spanish tortilla with potato, onion, bell pepper and peas flanked with a small salad. Garlic shrimp were not as garlicky as we would have liked. While a meal can be made from the numerous tapas offerings, we also tried a small fideua (seafood pasta paella), which was more than enough for us to share. This vibrant entrée had imported noodles from Barcelona that formed a crust on the bottom of the hot pan and was filled with chicken, chorizo, peas, roasted red peppers, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and squid; a Pinterest/Instagram-worthy dish that was delicious.

Seafood pasta paella

Some of the other entrees include: octopus, churrasco steak, mariscada and fresh cod. Desserts are brought in except for the flan.

Spanish music and a TV tuned to a Spanish-speaking station all add to the ambiance as well as murals depicting the Mediterranean Sea and décor suggestive of a courtyard restaurant in Barcelona. Service was extremely attentive with the waiter offering to make sangria with our wine, providing recommendations on what to order and replacing silverware.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Liquor Locker is next door if you forget to BYO and the restaurant has a parking lot.

Meson Barcelona, 314 Clifton Avenue, Clifton; 973-928-4168; mesonbarcelona.com BYO

TRATTORIA TOSCANA, WHIPPANY
Trattoria Toscana, which has been open since 2006, has a small dining room and a large following of regulars. Do not go without a reservation. An extensive list of specials—written without the prices—included linguine with chicken livers, calves liver and Cornish hen cooked under a brick. Fans of chicken Savoy will be impressed with the rendition offered here, as well as the pasta dishes such as the comforting rigatoni Bolognese. Bruschetta topped with tomatoes, celery and white beans are placed on the table when seated. The only dessert made in house is cannoli. Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday for dinner.

Rigatoni Bolognese

Trattoria Toscana, 554 Rt 10, Whippany 973-386-0303 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trattoria-Toscana/347841501938118

All photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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