Family and friends nights in the restaurant industry occur before the restaurant opens and is rehearsal for the owners, chefs and waitstaff, so that unforeseen problems can be remediated. Most of the time attendees are asked to rate the food and service and give constructive feedback after their meal. For us, it is also a fun evening, where we get to preview a new restaurant and tell you about it.
Wood Stack Pizza Kitchen is open now and, luckily for the Safersteins, this stunning 7,000-square-foot establishment with a liquor license and great food, is close to our home. While there were some typical Italian offerings on the opening menu such as meatballs, Margherita pizza, bucatini all’Amatriciana and grilled branzino, there were also dishes with twists. Take for example, the marmalata pizza with bacon marmalade, roasted tomatoes, Fior di Latte mozzarella and arugula made in a 900-degree oven; the charred broccoli salad with pickled shallots, red cabbage and Champagne vinaigrette; the roasted Jersey eggplant lasagna (all pasta is hand rolled in house) or the outstanding, tender and juicy 30-hour porchetta offered with smoked eggplant puree, fingerling potatoes, braised kale and caramelized onion. Along with the porchetta, which is now on my favorites list for 2015, we had the crisp, crusted Lola wood-fired pizza with leeks, guanciale, Fior di Latte mozzarella, farm egg and truffle oil and pappardelle Bolognese blanketed with ricotta; both deftly prepared and scrumptious. A non-traditional strawberry shortcake with a biscuit base was topped with whipped cream and meringue and served with a scoop of Bader honey yogurt gelato (from the nearby Bader Farm in Pine Brook). The rich flourless layered chocolate fudge cake was served with apricots and nutella sauce. Bread is made in house and Lowell, the bread baker, was impressed with its crunchy crust and slightly tangy dough.
The wood-centric décor is stunning and can be whimsical. An open kitchen has two pizza ovens from Italy; one is named Wood, the other Stack. One room can be closed off with barn like glass doors. An axe serves as a door handle, while, of course, there is a wood-burning fireplace. Cement floors, lots of windows allowing in light, wood tables, benches, chairs and walls (some are brick) some communal seating, stacks of wood in wheeled carts and tree-related quotes on the walls (such as “A boy loved a tree very much and the tree was happy” by Shel Silverstein), as well as black-and-white forest themed pictures, all create a homey and comfortable atmosphere.
The wine list ranges from $28 to $100 with wines by the glass $8 to $12. Dessert wines are about $14 a glass. Beers and cocktails are available and there is a TV at the bar.
BTW–This was a new one for us: The valet takes your cell phone number and sends a message with a link so you can let them know when you are leaving the restaurant. There were no knots at Wood Stack the night we dined there.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Wood Stack Pizza Kitchen
29 Rt 46 East
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