After working in kitchens since he was 14, and being in charge of many of them as he matured, Alex Cormier closed Rick’s Italian in 2016. He was 50 and had run the Lambertville institution for 13 years, but was facing a rent increase.
“I liked not having everything on my back for a while,” Cormier says. He worked in New Hope for awhile, and was exploring private chef opportunities when his longtime business partner, Donna Painter, came to him in 2017 with a new prospect back in Lambertville. A post-Victorian-era storefront that had housed the Broadmoor restaurant from the 1960s to the ’80s and more recently had been an antiques store, was available. The building’s owner, former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli, was willing to convert it back into a restaurant.
“It was a good opportunity to do what I wanted to do, and not be stuck with the name and formula of Rick’s,” says Cormier.
Opened in January after a year of renovations, the new Broadmoor offers comfort food and pastas, with nightly specials as Cormier’s creative outlet.
Painter designed the interior: walls in various shades of grey; globe lanterns that once served as Paris street lamps; large conversation-piece oil paintings; wood and marble tables with white acrylic chairs; plates and flatware from the former Waldorf Astoria hotel. Painter runs the front of the house, helping the predominantly female serving staff when needed.
Cormier and the kitchen crew can be seen through glass partitions in one corner of the 50-seat dining room. Sticking mostly with menu items, we were largely content. A butternut squash casserole appetizer was enhanced with baby kale sautéed in garlic and sautéed wild mushrooms. (Cormier says he forages his wild mushrooms locally.) Another excellent appetizer was grilled Spanish octopus, perfectly seared and served over boiled fingerling potatoes in saffron grape vinaigrette with shallots and parsley. In a grilled shrimp appetizer, served puttanesca style the night we visited, roasted tomatoes provided textural balance.
The sautéed Vietnamese squid in a calamari sofrito, however, was chewy and bland, and got no help from raw carrots and celery and Japanese bread crumbs.
Salads were plentiful and appealing, especially the chopped salad with Romaine, peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, gherkins, Genoa salami and Roquefort in creamy Italian dressing. The satisfying beet salad came with grapefruit and orange sections with feta in a honey-sherry vinaigrette.
Broadmoor makes some of its pastas in-house, but the more complicated shapes come from LoRe Pasta in Monmouth Junction. Cresto de gallo (cockscomb-shaped), for example, worked well with both an excellent arabiatta that included imported Italian capicola, hot peppers, shallots and plum tomatoes, and with seared scallops, a special in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce.
A delicious beef braciole featured flattened top round spread with an herby mix of mozzarella, provolone and house-made breadcrumbs and rolled up. It came with sautéed sausage and peppers on angel hair pasta in a spicy fra diavolo sauce. In an eggplant parmesan, the eggplant was entombed in heavy breading and drowned in sauce. A salmon special was nicely cooked and came with a tasty bacon jam and an unappealing garnish of crisped salmon skins.
Experimentation was evident in dessert. An appealing grape tart consisted of sliced red and green grapes in delicate puff pastry, drizzled with caramel sauce. The blackberry panna cotta, studded with fresh blackberries, showed verve. A flawless coconut custard tart was enhanced by a combination of raw and toasted coconut in a flaky-buttery pâte brisée crust. The gluten-free brownie, made with three types of chocolate, was luscious. Placing an ice cream cone on top, however, was a gesture as empty as the sugar cone itself.Click here to leave a comment
Price Details:Appetizers, $10-$16; pastas, $22-$30; entrées, $32-$40; desserts, $10
Ambience:Bustling Euro bistro
Service:Professional and personable