PUCCIARELLO’S ITALIAN KITCHEN, EAST HANOVER
Chef Anthony Pucciarello, who formerly owned Cielo in Fairfield, which we always enjoyed, has opened in the space that was previously Breanna’s. We gave this new BYO neighborhood restaurant a try and it is now on the Safersteins rotation list.
The menu is supplemented with specials written out with their prices as well as some dishes that were featured at Cielo, including an imaginative inside-out meatball, filled with spaghetti and served with a tomato basil sauce; homemade orecchiette pasta with caramelized cauliflower, sweet sausage, white beans, garlic and olive oil topped with toasted bread crumbs; and chicken-on-the-bone offered with four different preparations.
Crunchy bread and an addictive eggplant spread were gobbled up while we decided what to order. Our only complaint was that butter in foil was served with the bread, which is a practice that we do not mind at a diner but dislike in a restaurant. Zuppe de clams in a light tomato sauce was shared followed by the aforementioned pasta with cauliflower that was creamy and rich; a must-try dish.
It will be no surprise that Lowell ordered a special of a double-cut pork chop, which receives high praise as it was juicy, flavorful and served medium rare as ordered. Broccoli rabe, cubed potatoes and sweet red peppers were the accompaniments. Do you think I should start a pork chop Pinterest page with all of the pork chop pictures he has taken?
Dessert was bypassed as the offerings of lava cake, tiramisu and vanilla ice cream are brought in and did not tempt us. Zeppoles are made in house.
White tablecloths with black napkins, wood floors, stonewalls, yellow ostrich-leather chairs and background music all add to the ambiance. Service was attentive, portions large and the price point very reasonable with many entrees in the low $20 range. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 PM and Sunday from 3 PM.
Pucciarello’s Italian Kitchen, 34 Ridgedale Avenue, East Hanover 973-530-4100 BYO https://www.facebook.com/Pucciarellos-Italian-Kitchen-148315369088249/
ROSIE’S SHOUT OUTS
THAI PASSION, CHATHAM
It took too long for the Safersteins to dine at Thai Passion in Chatham, which has been on our to-try list since July 2010 when they first opened. This small casual restaurant is worth seeking out.
All of the traditional Thai dishes are on the menu, as well as some not-often-seen items, such as wild boar tenderloin, crabmeat pancake with taro root and massaman rack of lamb. Vegetarians can opt for mock duck (tangy or with Thai basil) as well as tofu dishes.
Steamed chicken dumplings served with garlic soy sauce and a glass-noodle chicken soup scattered with carrots and napa cabbage were both commendable starters. Three variations of duck were on the menu and we demolished the crispy skinned, half of Bangkok duck with green beans, carrots, green peas, coconut milk, curry and Thai basil. Spicy squid was tossed with a lemongrass, chili, lime juice, red onion and cilantro sauce creating layers of spice, sweet, and tangy flavors.
Thai Passion is small, about 40 seats and was busy on a weekday night. Cloth napkins are used, paper is over the linen tablecloth, specials written out with the prices and service attentive. Closed on Monday.
Thai Passion, 225 Main Street, Chatham. BYO 973-635-6600, thaipassionnj.com
DOUBLE ZERO WOOD FIRED PIZZA & ITALIAN KITCHEN, FAIRFIELD
Although Double Zero, which serves authentic Neapolitan pizza, is located in a nondescript strip mall and easy to miss, the restaurant is not a casual pizza parlor. White tablecloths, black napkins and attractive wine glasses embellish the tables. Just be forewarned that the smell of wood smoke, which greets you at the restaurant entrance, may stay on your clothes.
The sixteen pizzas offered range from $11 (marinara) to $19 (meat pie) and have a light and airy crust with char marks. We tried a scrumptious Mom’s Pie made with San Marzano tomatoes; homemade, fresh mozzarella; meatballs; oregano; pecorino romano; chili flakes and extra-virgin olive oil.
Prefer to have pasta? Eighteen sauces are offered, such as wild mushroom, Bolognese, carbonara and pistachio pesto. Entrees come with a salad or pasta and we found the chicken cacciatore to be tasty and filling.
Open Monday through Friday from 11 AM; Saturday from 3 PM.
Double Zero Wood Fired Pizza & Italian Kitchen, 103 Rt 46 W, Fairfield. BYO; doublezeropizza.net 973-244-0055
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein