This blog has been in existence since July of 2009. During these past 18 or 19 months I have reviewed over 100 restaurants all over the Delaware Valley and a few in California. We have had over 32,000 visitors in that time. No single review that I have ever posted has had as many readers as my first review of Barone Tuscan Grill in Woolwich Twp., NJ which I wrote during their opening week last summer. No other post has even come close to generating the readership that continues to this day for that one post. It is, and was, so befuddling to me that I was prompted several months ago to write a post titled The Great Barone Tuscan Grill Mystery. Even that post is high on the most-read list. The review itself was nothing special. Some in our group were not pleased, the majority, myself included, thought the meal was pretty good, in light of the “new opening jitters” that were to be expected at a time like that. Why it has generated so many readers is still something I can’t explain but, here we are for a return visit and it will be interesting to see what kind if response this one brings.
Six of us on an early February Friday evening and the place is packed. Someone must like the food. We have a nice round table set up for us in the back and the place is buzzing with activity. Each couple has a nice bottle of wine to compliment the food and the menu at ’ is so extensive that there would be little reason to offer “specials”. Joe B. ran across the Plaza to JB Liquors and picked up a 2005 Monte Degli Angeli, Barolo. This full bodied Nebbiolo had soft plum and cedar notes, a silky finish and was a good match for the food. Jerry C. had the 2008 Merum Monastrell from the Jumilla region of Spain. It showed flavors of forest floor and black cherry and provided a smooth finish. I brought along one of the La Posta Malbecs (there are at least three vineyards that I am aware of to date). This one was the 2007 La Posta, Pizzella Family Vineyard, Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. A nice nose of dark chocolate and spice and enticing cherry and tobacco flavors on the palate. A Wine Spectator 91 rating.
Jerry started out with a plate of mussels in their classic marinara sauce and served with a toasted garlic crostini. I went with the Potato Soup with truffle oil and crisp pancetta. The zuppe was hot and thick and tasty although the sparse pancetta quickly disappeared beneath the surface. No complaints. No raves.
Carol B. had the Broccoli Rabe, sauteed with extra virgin olive oil, veal sausage and roasted garlic. Carol wasn’t totally thrilled with the broccoli rabe but felt the sausage was good. Others had a small house salad.
Our server was Allan, and he did a nice job all night completing our orders. He had quite a few tables and worked hard in making sure that all of them were taken care of properly.
As I mentioned earlier, Barone’s menu has lots to choose from. There are about 14 different ways to have chicken or veal, lots of tempting pasta dishes most baked in terra cotta bowls and even a few House Specialties.
One of those House Specialties was what I considered ordering before changing my mind. I was glad to see Jerry request the Polpettone Toscana, Italian style meatloaf stuffed with prosciutta and spinach, hard-boiled egg and slow roasted and served in its natural juices. Jerry wasn’t thrilled but thought it was decent. I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with the hard-boiled egg propped in the middle of it.
Joe B. went with another of my “almost” choices, the Pollo Scarpiello, chicken breast, long hots and sausage in a Rosemary wine sauce. It looked excellent and Joe said the chicken was cooked perfectly and was very flavorful.
Two of the ladies opted for the Pollo Vesuvio, breaded cutlets served over a bed of spinach, topped with fresh mozzarella and tomato and finished with tortellini alfredo. It wouldn’t be wrong to change the name of this dish to “heart attack on a plate” but once again the ladies agreed that the chicken was excellent.
Normally, with all those chicken choices on the menu my only task is to narrow them down to the one I want. On this night, I decided to try Mamma’s Sunday Sauce, two homemade meatballs over capellini pasta. The sauce was delicious, the meatballs big enough that I could find no fault with them and the pasta done just right. Once again, the portion was large enough that I was able to box up enough to make for a nice dinner the next evening.
So, another visit to the place that holds such interest to so many. It may be that Greenwich and Woolwich Township is just growing so quickly that the new homeowners are desperate for decent places to eat. That’s what Barone Tuscan Grill is, not a fabulous dining establishment, just a decent place to eat on a Friday night.