Archive for atlantic city restaurants

CAFE 2825 – not a BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Cafe 2825, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by ballymote

IMG_3421The motley looking crew pictured here, ventured away from the shelter of their Brigantine weekend home to sample some fine food at one of Barbara’s favorite restaurants, Cafe 2825, located on Atlantic Ave. in Atlantic City. After our 3 o’clock food orgy it’s a wonder any of us were even remotely hungry but a quick nap had rejuvenated our taste buds.

Cafe 2825 is located quite close to the Tropicana Casino and features a full bar in the front with a nice seating area of 13 tables in the back. Owner/Chef Joe Lautato was ever-present making everyone feel welcome. In addition to the warm bread and butter, we were presented with plates of bruschetta. I thought this was a nice touch, even if the bruschetta was not in the “great bruschettas of all time” class.

Since Cafe 2825 is NOT a BYOB we selected a couple of nice wines from their list. On their website the wine list is described as “extensive”. I would refer to it as “rudimentary”. There are a grand total of 12 whites listed. On the red side, there are 2 or 3 choices under each grape varietal with the exception of wines from Italy, which dominate the page. IMG_3419

Prices are reasonable and we selected the Banfi Rosso Di Montelcino (a baby Brunello) for $48.00 and a Van Duzer Pinot Noir from Oregon at $58.00. The majority of our group seemed to prefer the Rosso. I am a Pinot fan and, although this was far from great Pino Noir, it was very drinkable and went well with my entree.

I passed on soup, salad and appetizers and chose the Chicken Clemente; tender thin chicken cutlets, buttered with seasoned ricotta, and sprinkled with reggiano parmigiana.IMG_3416 I could not have been happier with my selection. The chicken cutlets were tender and juicy and the cheese and sauce was a total marriage. In fact, I am getting hungry even as I type this. It’s meals like this that make exploring restaurants so much fun. As I mentioned earlier the Van Duzen Pinot Noir was an excellent accompaniment to the Chicken Clemente. Eight diners makes it difficult to remember what everyone had and I wasn’t taking notes but I know we all left quite satisfied with our meal at Cafe 2825.

 We even had enough energy left to drive over to the Borgata for an hour or two of gambling and people watching.IMG_3378

Atlantic City may be hurting from competition in the surrounding  states and the effects of the current recession but you couldn’t tell that from the crowds enjoying themselves at the Borgata.

Next time you are in the area I would strongly suggest making reservations at Cafe 2825 for an enjoyable dining experience. It’s not inexpensive but the food makes it all worthwhile.

ANDRE’S RESTAURANT – BYOB

Posted in Andre's Restaurant, BYOB Restaurant Reviews, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by ballymote

IMG_3346There are not a whole lot of places to have dinner on the island of Brigantine. Thankfully, it is home to Andre’s and, quite frankly, after dining there for the first time I’d be content to have all my meals at this excellent Italian bistro.

Chef/Owner Andre Cassaro takes a lot of pride in the food he serves and his hospitality adds a new dimension as even strangers quickly feel welcome in his place. Tom and Barbara have been eating here for quite some time and as Barbara said during one of Andre’s many visits to our table “Andre has been feeding us for 25 years.” And feed us he did. After bringing out the warm rolls and butter he delivered a plate of fresh mozzarella and another of fennel with slices of parmigiano reggiano in a balsamic sauce.

IMG_3347Thinking he hadn’t quite impressed us enough he followed this up with steaming bowls of soup, perfectly cooked broccoli rabe with orecchiette that was delicious. I was never a broccoli rabe fan but if this was an example of what it can be when done correctly I can see why so many of my friends rave about it.

I passed on the appetizers and ordered the split pea soup which both Carol and Barbara said was “wonderful”. It was good. I reserve “wonderful” for soups with more flavor and Carol and Barbara did agree it was just a bit off this night. Certainly not a bad offering,  just not quite up to the buildup it had been given.

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 Our wines for the evening were from Italy (2), Spain and Argentina. Mine was the 2005  Castel di Salvi, Santa Medici, Salento, Rosso and the smoky, dark berry flavors felt right at home with Italian food.  I got to taste all the others and Joe’s Chianti Classico Riserva was another pairing that lent itself well to the entrees we chose. Barbara is a true Malbec fan and she enjoyed her 2008 Gascon from Mendoza, Argentina while Jerry drank the Sigla, from the Rioja region of Spain.

It was difficult for me to settle on one particular entree as so many of them looked inviting. I finally chose the Charcoal Broiled Chicken Solari which wasIMG_3348 a generous portion of perfectly cooked chicken topped with both Blue d’Avegnon and Asiago cheeses with new potatoes and asparagus. The sauce was heavenly and the chicken mouth-watering. I was very happy with my choice and the portion size was just right. Andre was back to make sure the eight of us were enjoying our meals and although it’s not polite to talk with your mouth full we all managed to get the message across that everything was more than satisfactory.

IMG_3351Sue C had ordered the Veal Andre which billed itself as “fresh veal scallops sauteed with fresh mushrooms and scallions seasoned with fine herbs and demi-glaze with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.”  Upon closer examination Sue, and most of us, agreed she was served the Veal Marsala. There were certainly no scallions to be found on the dish. Despite the incorrect entree being served Sue thought the veal was very well done.

To my left I had the feeling that someone was watching me.

IMG_3350I was right, it was Joe’s Bronzino, lying there on his plate pretending to be dead but I wasn’t fooled. I think I even saw him blink at one point. Joe was a little bothered by the head still being attached to the delectable fish’s body so he had the kitchen remove it and then declared that the dish was excellent. For myself, I felt like I had lost a new friend.

IMG_3349Jerry had the tilapia and found the flavors to be unusual but a different and nice touch in making the fish quite enjoyable. It’s hard to remember what everyone had but I know Barbara had ravioli (I know cause she gave me one…mmmmmmm). Carol had the manicotti with sausage which I recall as being very generous portions of both the pasta and the sausages.

For a small little restaurant tucked away in a strip mall in Brigantine NJ, Andre’s does a great job of serving excellent food with their own signature sauces.  Andre himself is a perfect host with that innate ability of making strangers feel like family. Next time you are in Atlantic City, pass up on those casino restaurants, skip Angelo’s Fairmont Kitchen and the Baltimore Grill and take the connector bridge over to Brigantine and tell Andre that Carol and Tom sent you. I guarantee you will feel right at home.

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