Archive for Joe Pesce

JOE PESCE – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Joe Pesce, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by ballymote

 Joe Pesci is a New Jersey actor who starred in Goodfellows, Casino, My Cousin Vinny and countless other major films. Joe Pesce is a restaurant in Collingswood. There is no connection between the two. Six of us ventured into Collingswood for a visit to this restaurant last Saturday night. We had been there before but it has been a couple of years and we have not been there during the life of my blog.

 Aubrey, our server for the evening, had a great smile and she provided capable and attentive service throughout the meal, despite trying to avoid having her picture taken.

 My wine this evening came recommended by my Wine Guru friend, Vladi, who can be found most days and evenings prowling the well-stocked aisles at Wine Works on Rt. 70 in Marlton, NJ. This one was the 2008 Triton Zamora Tempranillo, Spain. This one had a very distinctive flavor of crushed berries and exotic spices. I thought it was good value for the money (mid-teens) but, as usual, my wife, although she enjoyed it, knew exactly where the price point for this wine was located. At any rate, a nice wine that went well with our food.

 Jerry started his meal with the Seared Scallops served over a bed of sauteed spinach and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The scallops were done just right and the sauce added just the right tangy flavor to the delicate scallops.

A couple of the ladies went with the Eggplant Caprese which featured slices of fried eggplant between sections of creamy mozzarella cheese. They reported that the cheese was very good but the eggplant was a little bland.

 I had no trouble at all choosing my appetizer. It’s not often I get to have meatballs as an appetizer so when I spotted Joy’s Meatballs on the menu, I knew I would be trying them. Two nice sized spheres of beef, veal and pork were accompanied by a nice toasted crostini smeared with buttery cheese. The meatballs were in a tasty marinara sauce and I was delighted with my starter.

 There were a couple of interesting fish “specials” on the menu on this particular night and I was torn between the salmon and the red snapper. When Jerry chose the salmon and Joe selected the red snapper, I was more confused than ever. I decided to go with the salmon and I ended up quite happy with my choice. This was a pan-seared salmon stuffed with crab imperial and served in a scampi sauce of lemon butter, white wine, capers and sun-dried tomatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaky and tender, the sauce was delicate and the side of potatoes made for a wonderful meal.

Joe’s red snapper was pretzel encrusted and served with a honey dijon sauce. The dish came with a side of broccoli rabe. It looked very good. Joe mentioned just a slight hint of the pretzel flavored coating and overall, I think I made a better selection in choosing the salmon though Joe certainly had no complaints.

 Sue went with an unusual choice for her, the lamb chops, while Kathy countered with a veal dish. Both items looked good and the women seemed pleased with their dinners. The same could NOT be said for Carol.

 Her dish sounded delicious. It was the Papardelle Aragosta. Fresh flat noodle pasta with chunks of lobster. When the dish was presented Carol began an ardent search for the elusive crustacean. She did find a small claw and some shreds of the succulent shellfish. She thought there surely must be more hidden away beneath the pasta. Rather than hire a private invesigator skilled in finding missing persons (or, in this case, absent lobster), she asked Aubrey to bring the dish back and add more lobster which she did. It still didn’t bring the dish up to par for Carol as even with the additional lobster pieces she found the sauce bland.

 Everyone agreed that all three of our desserts were first-rate. The Chocolate Cake was excellent. The Chocolate Chip Banana Cake was pretty special and the seven layer Carrot Cake was as good as you would hope. Each of these treats, which we passed around the table, was the perfect ending to the meal.

CAFE ANTONIO – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Cafe Antonio, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by ballymote

Cafe Antonio is another of the plethora of Collingswood eateries that line Haddon Ave. It’s a couple of doors down from Joe Pesce and a few doors up from Villa Barone. I had mentioned in previous reviews of Haddon Ave. restaurants that part of the Friday night scene are the crowds gathered outside the various eating spots. These are composed of hopeful diners that did NOT make reservations. Sometimes, you have to wiggle your way into the place. That was not a problem last night at Cafe Antonio; there were no crowds, outside or inside. It might be noted (and you can see it in the photo of the sign), that the name is actually Cafe Antonio II. When I went to click on the link for this restaurant, up came a Cafe Antonio in Herndon, Virginia. Our party of six was comfortably seated and with the exception of two other tables, we had the place to ourselves. The interior walls are painted with those “faux” scenes of the Italian countryside. Our server, Lee (although it could have been “Leigh”) recited the evening specials and brought us a basket of warm rolls with a dish of peppers and garlic in a red sauce for dipping. Joe B. & Jerry C. split an order of mussels and the wives shared some broccoli rabe. Not being a huge fan of either of these items, I passed. Carol B. thought the broccoli rabe was frozen rather than fresh and the guys found the mussels “fishy” tasting. I reminded them that they did, afterall, come from the sea, so a “fishy” taste might be expected. They reminded me that I knew nothing about mussels. Touche!

I really liked the wine I had chosen for the evening, the 2008 Klee Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley, Oregon. I had read quite a bit about the 2008 vintage for Pinot in Oregon and how it may be the best in many years. This was my first opportunity to sample a 2008, as most have not yet reached the local shelves, and I thought it was delicious with bright cherry and plum flavors, well-balanced tannins and a smooth finish. It also got better with time in the glass. Sue C. brought a bottle of the popular Aussie granache, the 2008 Bitch. Her choice of wines naturally lent itself to a hundred comments that could be made right here but I will do the intelligent and civil thing and say nothing. It did make for a few laughs at the table and, it’s a very decent wine, anyway.

All entrees at Cafe Antonio come with your choice of soup or house salad.

Joe and Carol ordered the Eggplant Rollatini which came with a humongous side of pasta and was topped with a generous portion of mozzarella cheese. I didn’t hear any comments on how they enjoyed their choice so I have to assume it was fine.

Sue and Jerry ordered from the “specials” with Sue choosing the Tuna with peppers and Jerry having the shrimp in a brandy creme sauce that was very similar to an “alfredo” sauce”. His plate gave the appearance of  a heart attack waiting to happen. Sue sent her soup back as not being hot enough and I think I did overhear them in the kitchen say “she must be the one with the “Bitch” bottle.” Damn, I promised I wasn’t gonna do that!!

My wife, Kathy, has the Pollo Saltimbocca, big portion of chicken breast topped with spinach, cheese and prosciutto while I ordered the not very adventurous Chicken Parmigiano. Again, two large pieces of chicken with a generous helping of pasta with red sauce. I can safely say, you won’t leave Cafe Antonio hungry as the portions are quite large. We took home half of our chicken dishes. I think, overall, the food is ok, with nothing standing out and nothing delivering that “wow” factor. If Cafe Antonio was your local restaurant, a block from your house, it would be a safe choice for dinner. The prices for virtually all of their entrees are very reasonable. The problem is, it is located right in the heart of the Big League of South Jersey restaurants, and it is not a contender to win the pennant.

COLLINGSWOOD – THE BYOB CAPITAL OF NEW JERSEY

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2009 by ballymote

classic-townsFor a town with a population of 15,000 and only 1.8 square miles of land, Collingswood, NJ has distinguished itself as the uncrowned Capital of BYOBs in South Jersey. Within the tiny radius of the town there are more than 20 excellent dining spots where you can bring a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal. There are 16 BYOBs on Haddon Avenue alone and that’s not even mentioning Collings Avenue, home to Blackbird, which is listed among the Top 25 restaurants in ALL of New Jersey.

How do I love thee, Collingswood? Let me just name a few ways, Bistro di Marino, Casona, Il Fiore, Joe Pesce, Nunzio’s, Thai Basil, Tortilla Press, Villa Barone, Word of Mouth, well, you get the idea. We never tire of our visits to the BYOBs of Collingswood. Cherry Hill and Haddonfield may consider themselves the class towns of South Jersey, and they do have their share of fine BYOBs, and my own town of Washington Township may have a huge population (over 50,000 and growing), and a few BYOBs which do a nice job of turning out consistently good food, but for sheer choice and quality of those choices, it’s not even close.  Collingswood reigns supreme!

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