NJ Dining: NICO Kitchen + Bar at the NJPAC

May 3, 2012

The DePersio’s have brought their family recipe for success to Newark!

Mr. Hot and I recently had the pleasure of dining at NICO Kitchen + Bar located at the NJPAC on what may be the most picturesque corner in Newark. We enjoyed many dishes that demonstrate NICO’s “Italian without borders” approach to cuisine.

The stand outs of the evening included a Trio of Tartares featuring salmon, beef and tuna, as well as Porcini dusted scallops, and the classic “Fascino” ricotta gnocchi.

Read all about the tasting, and watch a video from inside the NICO Kitchen on Hot From The Kettle.


NJ Dining: Daryl

April 15, 2012

Daryl Restaurant
302 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ. 08901
(732) 253 7780

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

Local New Jersey food blogger Melody Kettle recently did a great write up of all of the restaurants of Zod Arifai, the Albanian-born rock n’ roller turned rogue self-taught chef whose establishments have been getting tons of critical acclaim.

In Late February I was invited with a group of other food writers/bloggers to dine at Daryl, the wine bar in New Brunswick where Zod has taken over as Executive Chef.

I have dined in the past at Zod’s other restaurant, Blu in Montclair. Many of my peers are of the opinion that it is one of the most creative and best fine dining establishments in all of Northern New Jersey.

While I agree that the quality and creativity is definitely there, as is Zod’s technical skill, Blu just isn’t my speed. I think there’s just too much going on with the food, as if the place is Zod’s mad scientist laboratory.

I’ve had some major and heated arguments with folks about the place, and I’ve been accused of being closed minded.

While I do enjoy modern cuisine interpretations, ranging from the deconstructivist to molecular gastronomy, I personally tend to prefer cuisine that is more straightforward and which isn’t trying to break the light speed barrier or re-invent the wheel.

Blu is more of the second type, so stylistically it doesn’t tend to resonate with me as well. This is more of a personal preference thing, and not a reflection of the quality of the restaurant.

So I was actually relieved when I found Daryl to be more down to earth in concept — small plates, pastas, meat and fish to compliment the restaurant’s wine list and beverage program. And it also is conveniently located very close to the State Theatre, so if you are going to see a show there, it’s an ideal dining venue.

Daryl’s main dining room.

Daryl is a modern, but earthy restaurant which will please foodies and wine enthusiasts alike. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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A January Jaunt on Arthur Avenue

January 10, 2010

My brother, Brandon, who lives in Los Angeles, decided to pay us a visit for a few days. One of his first requests was “I wanna go back to the Bronx and buy salamis and eat Italian food, because I can’t get that kind of stuff in California.” Yeah, twist my arm. Like THAT’s a tough request to¬†accommodate. Any request to go to Arthur Avenue by ANYONE is immediately granted, because it’s one of my favorite places on earth.

The Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx late evening in January. Usually this shot would be impossible because of all the car and pedestrian traffic milling about on the street.

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NJ Dining: Arturo’s Osteria

October 25, 2009

Arturo’s Osteria & Pizzeria
188 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood NJ
(973)378-5800

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

Dan Richer, Chef/Owner of Arturo’s Osteria in Maplewood.

After meeting the young and food passionate Dan Richer at the recent New Jersey Les Marmitons beer dinner, I knew that this was a guy who’s restaurant I needed to go eat at.

Richer, who has no formal culinary training but who has a passion for cooking Italian cuisine, purchased Arturo’s from the original owners (which opened in 1991 as a wood fired pizzeria) in 2006. Richer has staged at many restaurants in Italy, frequently travels to Europe and has taken what he has learned and brought it back to his small Maplewood restaurant, which has a focus on pasta, pizza, and locally sourced ingredients. While Arturo’s retains a basic menu of pasta dishes, salads, small plates and artisan pizzas, Richer has gained quite a following from his regulars and has introduced tasting menus where everything is completely off-menu and seasonal.

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New York Dining: Fire + Ice

May 31, 2009

Fire + Ice
Level 4, Palisades Center Mall, West Nyack NY

Web Site: http://www.fire-ice.com

I usually go out of my way to avoid mall food — this goes without saying in that I go out of my way to avoid malls in general, because I hate the entire experience of having to fight for parking spaces and then schlepping around and being exposed to screaming kids and families that look and behave more like throwbacks to their Cro-Magnon ancestors rather than modern humans.

More often than not, the food in most shopping malls is more expensive than what you can get at a regular local restaurant or diner and of considerably less quality. I also hate the gimmicky-ness of most mall restaurants.

But sometimes it’s unavoidable that you have to eat in a mall, particularly if it’s a timing issue, such as when you want to go see a movie, which are increasingly becoming attached to large shopping complexes.

Recently I had a chance to eat at Fire + Ice, one of the newest additions to the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, which sports an AMC theater multiplex as well as a SONY IMAX.¬† While I wouldn’t call Fire & Ice a destination dining location, if you’re going to be heading out to a movie, it’s not only one of the most reasonably priced venues at the mall but it can also be a relatively healthy place to eat, as well as an entertaining experience.

Fire & Ice, Palisades Center Mall, Nyack NY by you.

Get your pan-cultural Teppanyaki here. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Arthur Avenue: Park When You See Jesus

June 22, 2008

My brother Brandon was in town this weekend staying with us, and made a request to visit Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. I’ve waxed rhapsodical on Arthur Avenue on this blog a number of times. For those in the know, the “Real” Little Italy is in the Bronx, near Arthur Avenue and 187th street. It is the “go to” destination if you want to be able to shop for authentic Italian provisions and eat at the some of best Italian-American restaurants New York City and the surrounding area has to offer.

Arthur Avenue and Belmont isn’t just Italian though — the community is also home to Kosovans, Albanians, Montenegrans and a large Mexican population, with their own stores and representative restaurants as well. This mural memorializing Anton Nikci, a famous local Albanian/Montenegran is adjoining an alleyway off Arthur that has a large municipal parking lot. I always tell everyone to “Park when they see Jesus”.

When you see Jesus, you know you’re about to have a transcendental Italian-American experience. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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