eNJoy Eatery

yn Weiss Francisco The eNJoy Eatery

enjoy_Eatery-150x150Evelyn Weiss Francisco is a Foodie and blogger from the Garden State. Her Blog, “Dishing on Dining“, has been running continuously since January of 2012. By day, Evelyn is a busy account executive with a Public Relations firm, by night, a writer with a passion for all things food related.

“With my father a cook and my mother a baker, I have always been surrounded by quality, fresh food preparation. I have learned to appreciate everything from the simplicity of raw fruit to artistic presentations of eccentric entrees and most importantly, to never be wasteful. The purpose of my food column is to take you, the reader, on an epicurean journey through eateries in New Jersey that run the gamut of different cuisines and cost ranges in the hopes of imparting to you the same love and appreciation I have for food”, states Francisco.

New Jersey has an array of talented chefs and exciting food establishments waiting to serve you in their own unique way. So come along for the ride, and read on while we take you through NJ’s restaurants, interview the Garden State’s top Chefs and share recipes….

Enjoy New Jersey!

Satisfying Your Java Jitters Locally

The hot weather shouldn’t stop anyone from drinking coffee. Coffee is like blood in your veins – it should be in your body in some capacity at all times for survival.  I find myself sometimes even thinking about when and where I will be getting my next cup of coffee. Don’t get me wrong, though. I won’t settle for not-so-good java just to fulfill my craving for that percolated bean. I don’t get the Java Jitters, either (as portrayed by this NJ native https://youtu.be/S1ksjZYidVY). And don’t get your caffeine nerves up when I say I don’t care for the taste of Starbucks. It’s bitter to my palette.

I blame this love/addiction on my European mother, who mixed warm coffee with the milk in my bottle…okay, really I was about nine years old when I was given permission to have Sunday coffee with her, but mine was a miniature cup diluted by 50 percent milk. It was a gradual dependence/desire mix.

Recently, I was picking up a roasted chicken from Uncle Paulie’s in Maywood (written about before in this column). It was about 86 degrees outside, but I needed the taste of a latte and it needed to be in a cold form. Coffee ice cream from Uncle Louie G’s next door would not suffice. I need the strength of the actual roasted bean…..I digress for a moment: realizing only as I write this that there are two (unrelated) Uncles next to each other on West Pleasant Avenue.  Anyhow, I stepped outside and across the street Stray Cat Brew catches my eye with its locally roasted coffee, gourmet teas and frozen drinks. The A-frame sign resolved a problem that many coffee connoisseurs have with ice coffee – it gets watered down. Here, the Black-Out Iced Coffee is made with frozen coffee ice cubes!  The former Moon Doggie Café, has gone from dog to cat ironically, but it leaves Maywood with a place to enjoy a non-commercial cup.

Try your local, locally roasted coffee café – that’s a mouthful but one that will be cooled down with cool cup of aromatic java.

Fly Over to the Uncle's

I rarely order takeout food. It’s either cook at home, heat up leftovers or dine out. Recently I discovered the need for a quick meal that might be divided into multiple meals with no preparation time. It was a forced issue, taking care of two hospitalized parents at the same time and running around with other everyday matters. Where could I save time and satiate my hunger without sacrificing my taste buds or my cholesterol level, which remains ideal? I could have thrown together a salad, but my belly needed a little warming and there was no time to drive back home.

It was only a few weeks ago I was reminded of Uncle Paulie’s Peruvian Chicken in Maywood, NJ. I was at my office when a delivery guy walked in with a food order for Evelyn. It certainly wasn’t for me. It so happened that there was another Evelyn down the hall. When I ran into the delivery guy on the way out, I asked, “By the way, where is that food from? It smells really good.” He answered enthusiastically, “Uncle Paulie’s in Maywood. You should try it.” Well I had tried it before and was now gustatorily charmed to try it again.

A whole rotisserie chicken marinated in their ‘special ‘ Peruvian sauce can be taken home for only $10. If that’s not what you walked in for, you will be tempted to get one as you become hypnotized by the rows of seasoned whole chickens rotating behind the front counter where you pay. The chicken is served quartered, making it easy to divide it into meals or deliver half to someone else. There are many other Peruvian-style items, but if chicken is in the brand name, make chicken your first order here. While chicken is never a leading star, the seasoning combined with the moisture of the meat makes it a winner.

According to the web site, Owner Paul Padro had fallen in love with the Peruvian cuisine of his wife’s native country. There was an absence of Peruvian food in Bergen County. He found he had to travel to further towns like Passaic and Paterson. His establishment has been open in Maywood since 2009. Fly over there when you’re in a rush to bring something home to the family or if you don’t mind sitting in a pizzeria-type dining area for a homey (a Peruvian home) meal.

Evelyn Weiss Francisco yn Weiss Francisco The eNJoy Eateryis a Foodie and blogger from the Garden State. Her Blog, “Dishing on Dining“, has been running continuously since January of 2012. By day, Evelyn is a busy account executive with a Public Relations firm, by night, a writer with a passion for all things food related.

Hush Hush I Smell It Calling My Name

Aumm Aumm means “Hush Hush” in the Neapolitan dialect. Well, I’m letting this secret out. I never find myself in North Bergen, but I’ll be visiting frequently now. A friend who works at the elite Le Bernardin – need I say more – had been posting photos of dishes from Aumm Aumm quite often in the last six months. I trust the culinary opinion of someone who is employed at a number one New York restaurant. So back in December, with no reservations accepted, a group of us tried this self-proclaimed “wine bar and pizzeria”…which neither descriptive piques my gustatory sense.

 

It’s name it was: Aumm Aumm the surprise. I dislike the name; I dislike the tagline. Neither of them provide the golden key to this restaurant – fresh food! Because we waited 20 minutes, our hunger was building. It was best to order a cold throw-together dish to share. The Tagliere is a chef’s selection of imported cheeses, imported coldcuts, olives, nuts and fresh fruit. It’s the perfect traditional way to begin.

Another cold dish followed: the Insalata Aumm Aumm. A signature dish should be the popular one, and it was among us, as far as a salad can be. Baby arugula, endive, raddichio, artichokes, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, cacciocavallo cheese was all dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

I’m not one to dine out and order pizza, but with a bunch of people sharing food, one is tempted to try it, since it’s claimed in the name and you sit facing the opening of the large brick oven stove. Choices are red or white pizzas, round or the larger oblong. We went with a round, red one – the Cappriciosa. It was topped with tomato sauce, ham, mushrooms, Gaeta olives, artichokes and mozzarella. The flavors popped, but as is often with brick oven pizzas, the dough has that lovely charcoal crisp on the outside, but is soft and chewy on the top side. I am a crispy bread freak too, so I was a bit disappointed to get strips of pizza dough in our bread basket for starters.

They carry 150 types of wines. Several primi pasta dishes were ordered, and all were cooked al dente. On the first visit, we tried the Sciallatielli allo Scoglio with fresh pasta, baby clams, shrimp, octopus, PEI mussels, calamari and cherry tomatoes. The second time we went with their new frequent patron, my friend, and the same dish was twice as large and came out inside a pizza dough crust to absorb all the seafood flavors.

Seared pork chops, fish of the day, grilled octopus, among other second courses are worth exploring. Now that Aumm Aumm is no longer on the down low, they may need to change the name…please.

Evelyn Weiss Francisco yn Weiss Francisco The eNJoy Eateryis a Foodie and blogger from the Garden State. Her Blog, “Dishing on Dining“, has been running continuously since January of 2012. By day, Evelyn is a busy account executive with a Public Relations firm, by night, a writer with a passion for all things food related.

Go Diva into a Box

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, many of you are still swimming in velvety pools of cocoa. I am not a member of C.A. (Chocoholics Anonymous), and I wouldn’t tell you if I were because it’s anonymous. But seriously, I don’t crave it; however, if there’s a piece of the finest form of that dark sweetness in front of me, I will have a hard time not taking part in at least one piece.  I’m talking about the truffle, not the tuber fungus known as the “diamond of the kitchen”, but the chocolate confectionary. It was named after the fungus because of its resemblance in shape.

Two of the best helpings of chocolate truffles I had were in Europe – first in Lucerne, Switzerland at a small confectionery shop near the popular chapel bridge. Topping that was a small, very expensive, selection of truffles from Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin, Germany. It was so delicious – and did I mention expensive – we had never eaten anything so good so slowly to savor it.

Let’s bring this back to Jersey. I’ve already written a column here about some fantastic  local chocolatiers such as Hanna Krause’s Candy in Paramus.  I have to give it up, though, to the Europeans for winning the truffle contest. New Jersey recognizes  Belgium’s flight to quality and flew in Godiva locations to many major malls in this state:

If you’re shopping in one of these mega retail locations and need to stop for a moment and close your eyes in delight, all you need is a handful of Godiva truffles that will hopefully last you the day.

Evelyn Weiss Francisco yn Weiss Francisco The eNJoy Eateryis a Foodie and blogger from the Garden State. Her Blog, “Dishing on Dining“, has been running continuously since January of 2012. By day, Evelyn is a busy account executive with a Public Relations firm, by night, a writer with a passion for all things food related.

Tavern 5

Merriam has been telling people who speak the English language that the noun “tavern” is ‘an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold to be drunk on the premises’. By that definition, I always picture a bunch of locals enjoying libations together and perhaps snacking on some simple food items that can quickly be grilled or fried, all in the most casual of atmospheres.

Either Tavern 5 in Pompton Plains, NJ, picked the wrong name for its restaurant, or Merriam needs to get with the times. It’s not exactly around the corner from me, so I might not have even given the menu a look if it were not for my familiarity with the food styling of Executive Chef Anthony LoPinto, whose food I tasted long ago in a cooking class.

It was a Friday night, a packed house, and it’s a reservation-free zone. My preconceived notions were quickly put aside as I took in the wood and brick textures, which felt like a modernized farmhouse. The large bar area with high-top tables was full of friendly chatter, chewing and sipping beneath the copper-tiled ceiling. The dining area consists of two rooms, one with bench seating against the wall and booths. The back room leads to an outdoor dining area, but it was winter, so we only saw the potential of the garden.

I knew we were in store for a little more than typical pizza and burgers when I grabbed hold of the leather (-like?) menu cover with a logo-stamped copper piece inlay. Sure, the recognizable pub-food words popped off the page: meatballs, wings, tacos, and one’s eyes start to sarcastically roll until the eyes catch a glimpse of the heightened descriptions that change these routine food items into something desirable to order:

SPINACH & MEATBALL – rich meat broth, veal meatballs, spinach, egg
WINGS – Jim Beam maple glazed chicken wings, fresh chives
TACOS – Steak tacos, avocado, queso blanco, champagne vinegar slaw, chipotle aioli, tortilla chips

All the elaborations were so flavor-enticing, the four of us each ordered something different so we could share in the exploration. For the first round, we tried the Crab Cakes with noticeable jumbo lump crab, citrus aioli, baby greens. There was a special stone-fired Clam Pizza with clams out of shell, arugula and garlic. The dough had an intentional chewiness and was laden with too much garlic for this vampire. Garlic lovers would devour it though. The Arrancini was not the baseball-sized fried rice balls; they were five bitable munchkin-sized balls with bacon, cheddar, sweet corn, on a sufficient smear of chimichurri sauce. The New England Clam Chowder was nicely flavored with the typical potato, bacon, cream and clams, with the addition of carrots. The chowder was not predominantly potato, as some can be.

The main courses were near faultless. The generous six seared scallops were plump with a little breadcrumb crunch, nestled in butternut squash risotto, surrounded by a moat of green apple broth. The Linguini Bolognese consisted of three different meats that are braised separately, so each is cooked perfectly: veal, short rib, pork. The pasta was fancifully presented, almost stacked like a pyramid. The Chicken Tacos may sound boring, but they three soft tacos sit in a holder, filled with blackened chicken, pico de gallo, slaw, avocado and cilantro crème. They order different components with the steak and fish tacos.

The prize dish of the evening, though was the Braised Short Ribs, braised with red wine and coffee. The meat was cooked to tender, but herein laid the near faultless: there was a slight heavy hand on the salt, which we all agreed upon. Otherwise, delicioso. (I’m not sure why reminiscing on those ribs just turned me Italian.)

I was full enough at the point, but I needed to try the coffee they boasted about on Facebook, directly from Toca roasters up the road. And of course, this had to be accompanied by ice cream from a small batch shop in the Hudson Valley.

It may be difficult not to judge an eating establishment by its name, but unfortunately, in this fast-paced world, we dismiss quickly on the glance of a label. Don’t dismiss Tavern 5; if you put your glasses on, the logo on the web site has a tagline of “Neighborhood Restaurant”.

Evelyn Weiss Francisco yn Weiss Francisco The eNJoy Eateryis a Foodie and blogger from the Garden State. Her Blog, “Dishing on Dining“, has been running continuously since January of 2012. By day, Evelyn is a busy account executive with a Public Relations firm, by night, a writer with a passion for all things food related.

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