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Osteria Crescendo...Westwood


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#1 E.L.A.

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 02:38 PM

Sorry for the delay on my post...however, I had a hectic week.

 

So, we all know who, what, etc. -- I went on opening night, which was this past Tuesday. I got there early to have a drink at the bar. First things first...when you first, walk in...be very careful! The tile they have on the floor is very slippery. On a wet/rainy night...this is an accident waiting to happen. That aside, the space gives a completely different feel, vibe and ambiance from Baci. The space is "white" and bright, and very open. You enter in the middle, with the bar on your left, and the dining room on your right. Walls have been taken down, and while open, there is a "separate" area for the dining room. Drinks were OK. The bartenders were young, not a great deal of experience, but they were adequate and friendly. They seem to be focusing on one or two "brands" in different categories. For example, no Jack Daniels, but they recommend Bulleit. Similar with tequila.

 

On to the table...the place was not crowded at 730pm. It was Tuesday! LOL. The waiter had some excellent descriptions of the dishes, but I get the impression they are more "rehearsed" than actually knowing the dishes, but that's OK. We started with a salad -- radicchio and mushroom, some ricotta cheese. Just as an FYI -- for the most part, the titles of the dishes are in Italian, and the descriptions are more a series of one word ingredients. So, if you don't understand a word or two, then you may want to ask. Our salad was titled "Fungi Crespelle" -- but the menu had no description or even a reference to a "crepe" like aspect, nor did the waiter say anything. No problem. Maybe it's on me, doesn't matter, all good. So, the salad was very good -- four little mounds of radicchio, some bits of ricotta, a slight drizzle of some balsamic -- very flavorful. These surrounded a soft, long, rectangular "crepe" filled with a soft and tasty mushroom concoction. I have no idea how it's made, but it was good -- a pleasant surprise and a learning lesson (Crespelle means crepe! LOL). While the waiter gave a very detailed, very thorough explanation of this dish -- he never mentioned or even referenced the crepe. Again, no big deal at all.

 

For the pasta we were torn between the farfalle and the gnudi -- which I knew meant "naked" -- so I figured the latter would be an open or deconstructed pasta, perhaps in the gnocchi family. We went with the former -- bow-tie pasta, served al dente, with small, very taste meatballs, some kale, and all mixed together with some parmigiano reggiano cheese -- very well done, excellent! I liked this dish -- a lot of flavor, taste, and, very well executed.

 

For the entree -- check out the menu online -- this section is entitled "For The Table" and all of the dishes are designed to be shared. It's not family style, but they are designed to be shared, order a couple (if you are more than 2 people, didn't have an appetizer and salad, etc.), and enjoy. Just as an FYI -- there is a dry-aged porterhouse and a dry-aged tomahawk ribeye on the menu, for $135 and $175 respectively. I point this out only in the context of the original discussion we had about, originally, this place was initially thought of being "less casual" than Viaggio, and serving "Italian street fare" and the like. Whenever I see and hear this -- I think about American Cut (Bar and Grill) in Englewood Cliffs. I felt that placed struggled with it's "identity" and who and what it was trying to be, and ultimately failed, in part, because of that. Topic for another time.

 

Anyway, we went with the scallops, wrapped in prosciutto. It was served with a quinoa and various herbs, served what was called "Sicilian style" -- whatever it was -- it was excellent! I've always felt that wrapping, cooking, etc., prosciutto with something can bring out a lot of the salt flavor and taste, and while this dish definitely had "salt" in the flavor profile -- it was very good! The scallops were firm, plum, and executed perfectly (for my liking). The prosciutto added that "meat" flavor and a salt taste, and the herbs and quinoa were a nice counter and fit very well -- lots of flavors, taste, etc. -- and I liked it a lot.

 

It was obviously "opening night" -- so they are getting going, new, finding their routines, and so on. No hiccups or problems -- except that tile floor. I saw two people slip, one man, one woman, and this can be a major issue (especially when the slightest bit wet). Very nice, open, inviting space. Tables not too close together, able to have a nice conversation, not loud, and a very nice experience. I would have liked my waiter to have more "real world" descriptions and handle on the dishes, rather than the rehearsed, canned, description that might have been taught to him. Get into a groove, get going, do your thing...and this place should do very well! I don't know the economics behind the place, but I know the food is very good, the space is very nice, and the vibe is good. If everything behind the food works -- this place should do very well. I feel there is a shortage of very good "Italian" restaurants (Dimora and Savini being two of the best in Bergen County in my opinion) and while this isn't "traditional" Italian -- and it's not supposed to be -- it's very good!



#2 E.L.A.

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 02:42 PM

BTW, parking...you can park (parallel) on Broadway, right around the corner; pull-in on the slant, on the other side of the street on Broadway (in front of Jack's Cafe, ReMax, etc.); and there is a lot across the street from the front door of Osteria Crescendo and Mezza (another very good restaurant), which I believe you can park in at night.

 

And, most of all, there is a municipal lot "behind" Osteria Crescendo, which is right around the corner. This is where the parking is for the CVS, and another lot right next door to it. I've never had a problem parking here when going to Jack's Cafe or Mezza.



#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 03:30 PM

It sounds like it'll be fun to sit at the bar and watch people stumble as they enter.


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#4 paryzer

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 05:04 PM

Nice write up E.L.A.! Thanks for the parking recommendations. Yes, the waiters in Viaggio are very rehearsed as well. They must teach them from a script :) The tile floors are going to be a nightmare for Mrs. P. who only wears high heels. She already fell and broke her wrist last year on a concrete floor at another restaurant. I'll have to hold her hand when we walk in.I was eyeing that funghi crespelle or the gnocchi, as well as the 14 month prosciutto to start. Chef Robbie used to make the most pillow soft gnocchi at Viaggio until he took it off of the menu for some reason. We also might share the whole branzino, but your scallop and prosciutto dish also sounded really good. I'm looking forward to it.


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#5 E.L.A.

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 07:28 PM

I'd go with the salad again. I think there were only three salads to choose from, and neither was your "caesar" salad or more traditional so to speak. Nothing here is more traditional -- and this guy certainly is creative. Very talented! So, if it's two of you -- and you are hungry -- order a salad, or an appetizer. Then order and share a pasta, and then share an entree/for the table. As an alternative, forget the salad -- go with two appetizers, a pasta to share and an entree/for the table to share.

 

If you enjoy branzino -- go for it! I'm looking forward to hearing.

 

By the way folks -- so I happen to be in Westwood last night, and it was such a beautiful night we were taking a walk around the block. It was around 9pm or so and we walked by OC...it was crowded. Every table was taken! So, first Saturday night...they were doing fine!



#6 paryzer

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 04:04 PM

We had an outstanding, but way overpriced dinner at Osteria Crescendo Sunday night. The food and service was impeccable. It was nice to see some friendly Viaggio faces in the house (the lovely hostess Angie and our server Luis). Since Luis already knew us we didn't have to sit through the whole script :) Everything was very flavorful and beautifully presented. However, we only had 2 appetizers and 2 main courses, plus the $25 corkage fee, and including tax and tip, the bill came out to $200.00. These are Manhattan prices. The biggest overcharge is on the entrees which are supposedly meant for sharing. These entrees are only enough for 1 person, unless you are two size zero models :) I don't think we can afford to eat here on a regular basis, unless Chef Robbie alters his entree prices accordingly. I guess the people living in Westwood are millionaires and can afford the exorbitant markups. I really wish Chef Robbie the best of luck, but the only way I can see getting an affordable meal here is at the bar and ordering little street snacks for $16 a pop (or just ordering an appetizer and pasta dish). We will probably stick with Viaggio. 

 

We started off with an awesome house cured 14 month prosciutto pared with an amazing pear mostarda that went perfectly with it. We also had an excellent mushroom crepe with radicchio, ricotta, and acedo balsamico. Both appetizers were very flavorful. For entrees, we had a beautifully presented whole grilled and deboned branzino with asparagus, fiddlehead fern, English pea, morel, and salsa verde. The skin was beautifully charred but it was not worth an outrageous $59. It was enough for 1 person. The sides were miniscule (1 asparagus cut into 4 pieces, 2 fiddlehead fern, a few peas). There was definitely not enough sides to share for 2 people. Branzino is a very skinny fish and not very filling. I can see if they prepared a much larger meatier fish that was enough for 2 people, to justify the outrageous $59 price. They would also have to add a lot more of the side dishes for 2 people to share. That is why we ordered another ‘sharing’ entree of fabulous scallops wrapped in prosciutto with herbs and quinoa. It came with 5 nice sized and perfectly cooked scallops, which is enough for 1 person, not two. We brought an excellent 2011 Domaine Lafond Châteauneuf Du Pape.

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originally parked on Broadway by the train station, but then moved my car across the street by the fitness center. It was Sunday so there are no meters. There is plenty of parking. I would like to try Mezza next. How is Thai West? There seem to be a lot of nice restaurants within walking distance. With no traffic the ride was only about 30 to 35 minutes. Also, we had no problems negotiating the tile floors :) It's a beautiful looking place and the seats are very comfortable. I see he learned his lesson from the hard metal seats when Viaggio first opened :) 


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#7 E.L.A.

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:18 PM

We had an outstanding, but way overpriced dinner at Osteria Crescendo Sunday night. The food and service was impeccable. It was nice to see some friendly Viaggio faces in the house (the lovely hostess Angie and our server Luis). Since Luis already knew us we didn't have to sit through the whole script :) Everything was very flavorful and beautifully presented. However, we only had 2 appetizers and 2 main courses, plus the $25 corkage fee, and including tax and tip, the bill came out to $200.00. These are Manhattan prices. The biggest overcharge is on the entrees which are supposedly meant for sharing. These entrees are only enough for 1 person, unless you are two size zero models :) I don't think we can afford to eat here on a regular basis, unless Chef Robbie alters his entree prices accordingly. I guess the people living in Westwood are millionaires and can afford the exorbitant markups. I really wish Chef Robbie the best of luck, but the only way I can see getting an affordable meal here is at the bar and ordering little street snacks for $16 a pop (or just ordering an appetizer and pasta dish). We will probably stick with Viaggio. 

 

 

originally parked on Broadway by the train station, but then moved my car across the street by the fitness center. It was Sunday so there are no meters. There is plenty of parking. I would like to try Mezza next. How is Thai West? There seem to be a lot of nice restaurants within walking distance. With no traffic the ride was only about 30 to 35 minutes. Also, we had no problems negotiating the tile floors :) It's a beautiful looking place and the seats are very comfortable. I see he learned his lesson from the hard metal seats when Viaggio first opened :) 

 

So, as far as the prices, Westwood, etc. -- you are right. Westwood is a nice town, but parts of it are also a "working class" town. He is looking to attract people from higher end neighborhoods in Saddle River, Park Ridge, Montvale, Woodcliff Lake, River Vale, etc. -- but even those higher end town, and the people who live in them, most of them are not immune to looking at prices, wanting value, etc. A few yes, but not all. Like I said, he can be crowded every single night, booked solid, etc. -- but he might not be making money vis a vis his business model, rent, overhead, etc. 

 

This can also b the American Cut problem -- identity, branding, etc. He may have high priced, Manhattan prices, because of his overhead, rent, etc., and because of his business model...but this location, the clientele, and the traffic, may not support it. It didn't for American Cut -- and give it zero credibility or not, but that's an already established brand, with an Iron Chef attached to it.

 

I am very motivated to get to Viaggo -- and ASAP.

 

Also, I am glad to hear about the tile floors...DO NOT go there if it's been raining! LOL. Mark my words! LOL. 

Mezza is excellent. Period. I don't know Thai West. I get my fix of Thai at Gao in Ramsey. There are a few good restaurants there. If you would like to experiment with a nice, family owned and operated BYO, right around the corner, and down Broadway about two blocks...try Granita Grille. It is not competing with Savini or Dimora. It's a nice, local, BYO, owned and operated by a nice Italian family, good coverage on the menu, dishes, etc., pride in their food, good service, and they are starting to get noticed after about 10 years, LOL. People are starting to come from further and further away to try this place.

 

Give it a shot. Enjoy!



#8 E.L.A.

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:19 PM

BTW, excellent review...thank you very much!!!



#9 paryzer

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 01:03 AM

Thanks for the recommendations E.L.A. We definitely have to give Mezza in Westwood a try. We tried the one in Livingston and weren’t as impressed. The food wasn’t bad but the indifferent service turned us off.

By the way Chef Robbie is having trouble getting help. He is still looking for some cooks and servers. Friday night they were slammed and only had 3 servers. They literally had a line out the door since they didn’t have enough servers to take care of them all.

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#10 E.L.A.

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 03:16 AM

Thanks for the recommendations E.L.A. We definitely have to give Mezza in Westwood a try. We tried the one in Livingston and weren’t as impressed. The food wasn’t bad but the indifferent service turned us off.

By the way Chef Robbie is having trouble getting help. He is still looking for some cooks and servers. Friday night they were slammed and only had 3 servers. They literally had a line out the door since they didn’t have enough servers to take care of them all.

 

I didn't know the two Mezza's were realted. Thanks for the heads up. I can tell you I've been to the Westwood local several times -- the food is excellent, and the service was good.

 

I also didn't know about the trouble getting help -- then again, how would I know? LOL. Interesting that they are having trouble. I know there are people looking. I wonder what Saturday night was like. Like I said, by the time I walked by, while virtually every table was still taken, it was already after prime-time, so most people were well into dinner, finishing, etc. Thanks again for the heads up.



#11 Tubbs

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:04 PM

Thanks for the reports. Looking forward to trying it. Regarding price...if I can pay Manhattan prices and get Manhattan-quality food with an hour+ less driving, no traffic, no expensive garage, and an hour+ less babysitter, I'm totally ok with that. We shall see!

#12 paryzer

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 07:03 PM

Thanks for the reports. Looking forward to trying it. Regarding price...if I can pay Manhattan prices and get Manhattan-quality food with an hour+ less driving, no traffic, no expensive garage, and an hour+ less babysitter, I'm totally ok with that. We shall see!

I'm looking forward to your report Tubbs. If you don't mind paying Manhattan prices, then I think you will love this restaurant. The food was outstanding, and just a little different than what is offered at Viaggio. We eat out a couple of times a week, so I have to stretch my dining out budget into a couple of meals, and don't want to blow it all on one meal.


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#13 Tubbs

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:41 PM

Put us together and we'd be the perfect customer! Then again if I was eating out multiple times a week I would be much more price sensitive. I'm happy if I make it out sans kids once a month.

#14 JackJack123

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 12:31 AM

Thanks for the recommendations E.L.A. We definitely have to give Mezza in Westwood a try. We tried the one in Livingston and weren’t as impressed. The food wasn’t bad but the indifferent service turned us off.

By the way Chef Robbie is having trouble getting help. He is still looking for some cooks and servers. Friday night they were slammed and only had 3 servers. They literally had a line out the door since they didn’t have enough servers to take care of them all.

Everyone in this area is struggling for staff...both foh and boh



#15 E.L.A.

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Posted Yesterday, 11:35 AM

Comments coming back from friends -- including several who are in the industry -- are that the place is "expensive".

 

Everyone made that comment.

 

Another common comment was that there is a disconnect between what they are trying to be, their prices, etc.