NJ Dining: Patria


Patria Restaurant and Lounge
169 W. Main Street, Rahway NJ 07065
(732) 943-7531

Web Site: http://www.patrianj.com

Wow, what a wild and oppressive summer we had. Crazy rainy weather, outrageous humidity and a 20-year tropical storm that has caused devastating amounts of damage to our state.

Our house got knocked off the grid during Irene and we’ve been doing a bunch of home improvements that have been taking up a lot of our time, plus we got older parents to take care of.

I guess this is what happens when you hit your 40s. Life just creeps up on you.

I’ve also been working really hard this summer and cranking out the hours in the “Real Job”, so if you’ve been wondering where all the foodie posts have been the last eight weeks, now you know why!

It’s difficult to remember the fun times from the Summer of 2011, but we definitely did have some truly great meals.

One was a very memorable dinner I had in late July with the folks at Diaz-Schloss, who handle PR for Patria, a funky high-end nightclub/lounge in Rahway which serves Pan-Latino cuisine with classic Italian and French twists.

If the name “Patria” sounds familiar to you, it’s because it used to be the name of a Nuevo Latino restaurant in New York City, which earned accolades (3 stars) from the New York Times and Bon Appetit magazine. And the guy who made it all happen there was Chef Andrew DiCataldo.

DiCataldo may be Italian-American, but he has a Latino soul.

DiCataldo is one of the founders of Nuevo Latino Cuisine and has brought his experience and classical Italian and French cooking techniques to Patria.

After graduating culinary school at Johnson & Wales, he moved down to Florida and ended up at Scratch restaurant in South Beach the 1980s and then in Miami in early 1990s (alongside his close friend Douglas Rodriguez, which he has co-authored a cookbook with) at the Cuban restaurant Yuca, where he and Rodriguez experimented with Caribbean and Central/South American flavors and developed the refined “Nuevo Latino” style that is popular today.

He then was exposed to Mexican flavors at the famed Las Puertas in Coral Gables.

After returning to New Jersey and opening Mexicali Blues in Teaneck, DiCataldo then went on to Patria in the 1990s in New York City, branched out to Tapas-style small plate cuisine at Pipa and now has returned to bring this Pan-Latino style  to the New Jersey town of his youth, at a brand-new Patria.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

The new Patria bills itself as both a “Mixology Lounge” as well as a restaurant. I never really considered Rahway to be a hot spot for night life or even high-end Nuevo Latino cuisine, but I’ve now been proven wrong.

This place is really jumping, and even if your’re a 40-ish old fart like myself, the place radiates a ton of energy and is invigorating, particularly with its unique lighting. The fiber-optic “Tree” in the middle of this lounge area pulsates with all kinds of colors, and is a great match to the music.

Very trancey. It’s too bad the kids aren’t into Depeche Mode these days.

Of course, starting out with couple of nice cocktails doesn’t hurt to begin enhancing your mood.

Downstairs Lounge Area. Yes, those lights do oscillate through various bands of color and go absolutely trippy, just like the ones upstairs.

A nice place to sit down if you can’t hold your liquor or if you start to space out too much.

Wow man, check out the sconces.

Okay, enough bad Cheech and Chong impressions and on with the food. The main dining room eschews the trippy/trancy lighting for natural light and warm, wood aesthetics. Franky, that’s more my speed. Cause, like, I’m old.

Guacamole with fried Plantain strips. Now we’re talking.

An “escabeche” of octopus tentacle with purple potato puree.

Crab Cake with Passion Fruit Mango Mojo and Saffron Aoili.

Spare Ribs with Ancho Chile-Cherry BBQ sauce.

Tamarind and Sweet Red Chile Chicken Wings

Pastel y Pincho. This is a Chicken Fricasee baked in a small cazuela dish with a sweet corn crust, with grilled chicken skewers.

Pariguela. A Peruvian seafood stew with corn.

Fried Calimari. With Smoked Paprika Sea Salt and Lemon/Garlic Aoli.

Sweet Corn Arepa.

Peruvian Ceviche Tasting

Seafood Fideos. A pasta dish with Clams, Mussels, Squid, Shrimp and Linguini with a saffron/red pepper sauce. A Spanish treatment to the classic Italian pasta frutti di mare.

Salmon, Crab and Scallop “Chupe” in a Peruvian yellow pepper sauce with cream and shrimp stock.

Bronzino Veracruz.

Seared Shrimp and Scallops with Lobster Mashed Potatoes, tomato chimichurri.

Sliced Churrasco Steak with red chile/parsley chimichurri sauce and Purple Potatoes

Patria Pork, a modern take on Cuban “Lechon” and Puerto Rican “Pernil”. Pork shoulder slow roasted and pan crisped over boniato puree with a black bean broth.

Flan

Tres Leches Cake with Passion Fruit Sauce

Churros (served with Chocolate Fondue)

Chocolate Fondue w/Fruit and Churros

Orange Truffle Chocolate Tart.

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