Jump to content


E.L.A.

Member Since 05 Nov 2006
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:57 PM
-----

#1442720 No. 12

Posted by E.L.A. on 07 July 2019 - 03:06 PM

Well...since there isn't a single person who has anything to say about this place...I will...

 

This has become my favorite restaurant in Bergen County! From arriving, to the raw bar (a minimum of 10 different types of oyster every night), to the shared-plate menu items, to the few entrees...the bread, served hot, right out of the oven...the music, the ambiance, vibe...to dessert...this is the real deal! The chef gets a daily inspiration and the menu is born. Some things stay, some rotate out and come back...but the menu is fluid and ever-changing. The flexing of creative muscle, intelect, inspiration, layers of ingredients...and more...results in perhaps an esoteric, but certainly unique menu.

 

The raw bar is incredible, with the oyster menu bifurcated to East and West Coast, chilled lobster, large shrimp (U-8's), and crabmeat. I can't give the menu the justice and respect it deserves...so all I can say is "GO!!!"...and if you like excellent food, you will thank me. This small, cozy, but certainly hip BYO has a great vibe...speak-easy'ish, but with upbeat, tap your feet rock, pop, and light hip hop music playing just creates a fun, great vibe. I really like it. 

 

Remember...no website, no phone number (you have to call Stella Artisan, get on their email/mailing list, etc.)...so, on the evening of your reservation...go to Ridgewood, stop at Super Cellars on S. Broad Street and pick up a nice bottle of wine, or two! LOL. Walk down the street and and when you show up for your reservation...you check in at Stella Artisan and let them know you have arrived...when ready...they hand you a card with a code number on the back...and they tell you to walk out the door of Stella Artisan, make a left, walk half a block, take a left down the alley...and look for the blue door. No names, no signs, nothing. Just a blue door...with an electronic keypad...type in the code...and that's how you get into No. 12.

 

From there...get ready to enjoy!!!




#1440302 Osteria Crescendo...Westwood

Posted by E.L.A. on 23 April 2019 - 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.




#1440095 Osteria Crescendo...Westwood

Posted by E.L.A. on 15 April 2019 - 11:19 PM

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




#1440094 Osteria Crescendo...Westwood

Posted by E.L.A. on 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!




#1440049 Osteria Crescendo...Westwood

Posted by E.L.A. on 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!




#1439808 Esty Street...April 2019

Posted by E.L.A. on 08 April 2019 - 03:56 AM

I had a very nice dinner at Esty Street -- a long time, well known restaurant in Park Ridge, which has been a top place for what seems like 30 years now. We started with a drink at the bar, which was very nice, quiet, the NCAA games on the TV's, but a nice quiet ambiance, in line with the entire restaurant. The overriding theme in this fine dining restaurant is ambiance -- dim, but not dark, tables not on top of each other, a small "library" area, with books filling bookshelves, and overall, romantic. Quiet, classy ambiance. It gives off the aura of a high-class "club" or something of the like. 

 

We were seated at a perfect table, and even though there was a large party nearby, it was still perfect, and quiet. Service here is very professional, integrated, well coordinated, and simply perfect. The menu, I would say is "eclectic" and a flair of creative, well described, and very enticing specials that the waiter gave an excellent overview of, and details when asked. The wine list was placed on the table and was the size of a large volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, LOL. We stuck with drinks, so no wine.

 

For appetizers, we started with the Crab Cake, which came with a nice salad, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, scallions and an aioli that had layers of flavors and taste. We also had one of the appetizers from the specials -- a sliced tuna, drizzled with wasabi, gentle, but flavorful, coupled with what they called giant prawns (large shrimp et al) diced spicy salmon, and lump crabmeat, inside a wonton shell. It was excellent! Can someone tell me how to post pictures? I am a tech idiot, so make it simple please. LOL.

 

For entrees, we had the sauteed scallops, which was coupled with jumbo lump crabmeat, clams, sauteed spinach, and a nice saffron broth. We also had the spiced Hawaiian tuna, which came with ginger black rice, bok choy, crabmeat, avocado and a soy miso glaze -- and this dish was excellent! I was already enthralled with my dining companion...so...I apologize...no pictures! LOL. The food just exploded with "freshness" and flavors, and the tastes were distinct and perfectly married together. These were well thought out creations, and not just some thrown together effort of high end dishes. Excellent!

 

There's a reason why this is a top restaurant for almost 30 years! Because it is! Top notch all around...excellent. If you like good food, ambiance, and a nice experience...you found it all at Esty Street.




#1439807 Fascino...April 2019

Posted by E.L.A. on 08 April 2019 - 03:24 AM

From the first time I went a few years ago, I've been a fan. I've been there several times since my first, and it is still a very nice space/place, nice ambiance, quiet, you might say even a touch romantic due to the lighting, dimness, and the "softness" of the place. I brought a 2016 Hess Estate Cabernet...which...side note...is drinking very well...excellent...for a $25 bottle of wine. Let it breathe, decant it if possible, but once this opens up, it is drinking better than many bottles I've had for 3 times the price! So, as soon as I got there, I asked them to open it and let it breathe.
 
We started with the PEI mussels appetizer -- very nice, done very well, a nice bite to the broth. We also had the tuna tartare, which was excellent, it had a lime flavored sauce, with some diced fruit, a small amount fish egg, and some seasoning herbs. It was very nice and I enjoyed it a lot. 
 
For entrees, we went with sea scallops and the black angus hangar steak...the scallops came with a risotto and a dark mushroom sauce. The risotto was done perfectly. Risotto can be a make or break dish -- done right, it's excellent, but if not, it can be a disaster, very easy to tell it's not done right. The steak came with a lemon flavored spinach, some parmesan potatoes, which was very tasty and loads of flavor, and it came with a herb, seasoned light sauce. The steak was also loaded with flavor and taste -- done perfectly! For dessert, we had apple crostata, which came with a caramel gelato and a nice caramel sauce.
 
The service was very good, patient, as we took our time, relaxed, was having a very nice time, etc. They were attentive, professional, cleared plates and refilled water on cue, before being asked, overall just very good. The menu is excellent -- nice range, broad scope within the categories, strong with pasta, very nice flair, and simply put -- this is an excellent restaurant. As always, I liked it very much and I will absolutely go back!
 
In my opinion, Fascino is one of the best restaurants in Montclair and the surrounding area. They do what they do and they do it extremely well! 



#1439768 Strange request...near West Orange...dinner, Friday night

Posted by E.L.A. on 06 April 2019 - 09:58 PM

I decided to go to Fascino -- primarily for the ambiance, and it was going to be more quiet -- so that we could really talk and spend some quality time together.

 

Very positive and very nice...both on the food and the company...   :+1:

 

Details to follow...on the restaurant and food/dinner that is...LOL.




#1439677 [Wayne] Viaggio

Posted by E.L.A. on 03 April 2019 - 03:58 AM

 

I could be completely mistaken, however, I thought with all the news, announcements, press, etc., that I read about the new place -- I thought I read that it was supposed to be a more "casual" version, a less "fine-dining" experience, serving more casual, street-fare dishes, etc. Whatever the terminology was or is, I had an impression. 

 

 

Yes, I was under that impression as well. The term they used was cicchetti (for small snacks). Apparently that will be served at the bar. The regular menu is even more expensive than Viaggio. I would love to try it as well, but I'm not sure that I can afford it, especially since it is not BYOB. I have to see if they will allow me to BYO and pay a corkage fee.

 

 

 

Great question!!! I am going to call beforehand and ask them. I actually have some full-bodied, big, bold cabs I've been enjoying lately.

 

I guess they "bar crowd" and the menu being offered at the bar is one thing, and the dining room, regular menu is something different. Westwood is a nice downtown, walk-able, area -- a lot of "retail" and storefronts. The old Baci space was a nice space, nice size. I am sure it's not "cheap" -- so a more "casual" place might not be economically feasible. The costs, to open, are probably such that you need to be a certain kind of place in order for it to be economically feasible. Plus, you have the liquor license. It all comes down to your business model, revenue, profit margins, and your costs. 

 

However, like I said, this guy is an excellent chef. He does it right, and does it well. If word gets out, he should do well...if the business model is sound.




#1439626 [Wayne] Viaggio

Posted by E.L.A. on 02 April 2019 - 02:16 PM

I could be completely mistaken, however, I thought with all the news, announcements, press, etc., that I read about the new place -- I thought I read that it was supposed to be a more "casual" version, a less "fine-dining" experience, serving more casual, street-fare dishes, etc. Whatever the terminology was or is, I had an impression. 

 

Now, I look at this menu, and I see "upscale" -- at least as far as price-points. Sure, you can have some casual, fun, street-fare type dishes, but the menu still has price points. Now, I know based upon location, liquor license, etc., there has to be certain price-points. The business model has to be viable, feasible, etc.

 

This was like the comments I had regarding American Cut in Englewood Cliffs.

 

I am sure the food will be excellent here. This guy is an excellent chef. I am looking forward to going! 




#1439519 What's with the no activity?

Posted by E.L.A. on 31 March 2019 - 07:09 PM

    I'm not sure if I am considered one of those "bullies" or not.  I am pretty sure that I do not flame or post negative personalizations about other posters.   However, in recent times I certainly have commented  on the repetitive posts regarding the same "NY wannabe" restaurants. How many times does the same place need to be reviewed by the same person to be helpful?  Then again, I too received negative feedback when asking for reviews and info on places never mentioned, or not of the same style as those that seem to be preferred here.

   I came here because in my work I spend a LOT of evenings away from home and eating on the road.  Since I am not as well trained in the culinary arts as most here, I was looking for advice and inspiration regarding many different places.   

    Recently I found myself taking a beating if giving a negative review, and my suggested places for discussion either being ignored  or simply flamed without explaination in many (but not all ) cases.   Maybe it's my fault because I don't buy into "Presentation  over Quality" that many places seem to get away with these days, and let folks know about it.

   All that being said, I apologize to ELA, Paralyzer, and anyone else who may have taken personal offense at my posts.  No disrespect was intended- I was just trying to jar this place out of a deep rut.

   Anyway, I don't think it was me that slayed this beast. One can only read the same thing so many times before looking for another source.  That is why I have been so quiet lately.

 

 

None of my posts, observations, etc., were directed toward you. I understand your point however. Different people have likes, dislikes, etc., and my biggest complaint are the people who insult others' opinions, and offer their own as fact. They demean, belittle, others's opinions and posts. Person A says their favorite Italian restaurant in Bergen County is X...and Person B comes along and says "X sucks! Only people who don't really know good food would think that X is a good restaurant." To me, that's the epitome of a bully, a rude, classless, and nasty person. That ruins a BB. That causes good people to not want to post. JMO.

 

I also don't have a problem with a negative review. Not at all. 

 

Thanks.




#1438919 [Wayne] Viaggio

Posted by E.L.A. on 17 March 2019 - 09:31 PM

I’m sure he will still have some nice gourmet dishes along with his Italian street food. He cures and ages his own meats and salumis. He has been showing off some beautiful dry aged ribeyes that I’m sure will make their way on to the menu.

How is the parking there? Do they have a parking lot? It looks like the restaurant is on a corner by a busy intersection.

 

Yes, there's parking. You just have to drive around the block so that you know where it is. There's several options. Walking out of the restaurant, to the right, there's a block of street parking around the corner. This is heading toward Jack's Cafe. There's also many parking spots across the street from the street parking and Jack's Cafe, and they are most often available. There is also a very large municipal lot "behind" the restaurant, which you access by (walking out of the restaurant) going around the other corner, to your left. There's tons of parking there. Also, across the street from the restaurant, there's a bank parking lot which the restaurant patrons use at night, and an adjoining lot as well.

 

I've eaten at Baci -- and the neighboring Mezza (which is excellent!!!), and Jack's Cafe (which is around the corner) -- and I've never had a problem parking. 




#1438907 [Wayne] Viaggio

Posted by E.L.A. on 17 March 2019 - 05:11 PM

I think the new place won't be as gourmet as Viaggio. Chef Robbie is looking to serve 'Italian street food' at the bar, and will also have a lot of fresh pastas and maybe some large family style dishes. When we were there over the weekend he had an excellent appetizer special of tramezzini carozza which is basically a fried cheese sandwich with mozzarella, stracchino, and mortadella, that is tempura battered and fried. He was trying it out at Viaggio and plans on serving it at the new restaurant Osteria Crescendo.

 

 

 

Interesting...the space at Baci was conducive to a more "fine dining" atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't fine dining like Savini, but it was a nice space (dining room). Plenty of people viewed it as casual, dressed casual having dinner there on a Saturday night, but you could also see people dressed up a bit more, jackets, slacks, etc. Now, that doesn't mean anything. And, of course I know the space is being changed. Plus, the new place has got a liquor license. 

 

The downtown Westwood area attracts a lot of people from neighboring towns -- including Closter, Park Ridge, and Oradell. It's a nice little downtown area, and you've got some popular restaurants there. All the ingredients for a successful place -- because you have a successful, talented chef.




#1438906 So...where'd you eat this week?

Posted by E.L.A. on 17 March 2019 - 05:02 PM

I am still behind on my postings...Sonny & Tony's (Mahwah), Sangria (Mahwah), Capital Grille (Paramus), Oceanaire (Hackensack), Baumgart's (Ridgewood), Shumi (new, in Ridgewood), Mantra (Paramus), Hiram's (Fort Lee), and 103 Prime at Valentino's (Park Ridge).




#1438877 What's with the no activity?

Posted by E.L.A. on 16 March 2019 - 05:41 PM

 

 

I tried posting regularly, but then got beat up for only writing about restaurants near me, and not further up North near the other posters (who never post about their dining experiences, but like to complain), so I just gave up. I now mainly post on Instagram, or another food blog which is much more welcoming. ELA, of course, you are the exception. I always enjoy your posts. I really miss Rail Paul.

 

paryzer -- interesting, and I was unaware. First, I don't understand the "got beat up" thing. 

 

Well, I think a few of the bullies were tired of me posting about the same restaurants each time (like Laurel & Sage, Cafe Panache, Tillies, Viaggio, etc.), even though I would only post the new and interesting specials that they had that time, and not the same meals. It just wasn't worth it. 

ELA, you should give Hungry Onion a try. They have a New Jersey section. Although the majority of the members are from Central Jersey they are very friendly and welcoming, and are looking for more North Jersey posters. I actually met a few of them and had dinner with them. They have little HOdowns (HO for Hungry Onion) at some of the restaurants and invite everyone that is interested.

 

 

paryzer -- who cares what they were tired of, LOL. Not me! I hear you though. I tend to go to several of the same restaurants, and I post about it, and I read about others who do the same. I read your posts, looking specifically at the various specials and different dishes you tried. That's the point of posting! LOL.

 

I never heard of Hungry Onion -- thanks for the recommendation!