Archive for Sewell NJ

PASTA POMADORO – BYOB

Posted in Pasta Pomodoro with tags , , , , on June 14, 2010 by ballymote

This is one of those “neighborhood” restaurants. You don’t often go because it’s “right there” and you can go any time. Last Saturday, my wife Kathy and I, along with our friends Jerry and Sue C., decided this was the “any time”. Actually, we didn’t feel like traveling very far and the proximity of Pasta Pomdoro made it a good choice.

I grabbed a bottle of wine from my rack and we drove the 6 tenths of a mile to our destination. We had a short wait outside for a table to open up but within 5 or 6 minutes we were seated in the crowded restaurant. Kathy and I had been there a couple of years ago but neither of us could remember how we felt about our meal on that one occasion.

My wine was the 2006 Domaine Samparielle, Cotes du Rhone, Selection Fruitee. I often say if you are looking for a French wine and want something decent without spending a small fortune, it’s hard to go wrong with just about any Cotes du Rhone. I’d now like to amend that statement to read “any Cotes du Rhone that does not say “Selection Fruitee” on the label.” This one just lacked body and structure and was a major disappointment. Hey, what fun would it be if every wine was terrific?

We were served nice, warm rolls with butter as our server, Mallory, told us of the evening specials. The menu at Pasta Pomodoro isn’t fancy but there are plenty of items to provide a good selection.

The women decided to start with salads while I ordered a bowl of their Crab Chowder. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot so when I took the first spoonful I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was way beyond decent. This chowder could stand up with the best of them and although it may not be the best I ever had, it was a serious contender. It was rich and creamy with nice chunks of crab meat mixed with perfect potatoes and veggies and was a great start to the meal. Jerry, (The Bruschetta King) opted for “you know what.”

Five or six very healthy sized croutons appeared buried under an avalanche of bright red tomatoes. Jerry thought the croutons were too big and naturally the tomatoes fell off the bread. He ate a couple of pieces and brought home enough to feed a third world country for 4 or five weeks. This was an example of serving quantity over quality.

For my entree, I wandered from my usual comfort zone and chose the Veal Mustard, tender veal sauteed with garlic and topped with a creamy Dijon mustard sauce. This was accompanied by a penne pasta with red sauce. The veal was tasty enough but I should have asked for veggies to go with the dish as the red sauce didn’t go well with the Dijon mustard. I took some of the veal home for lunch the next day.

Jerry selected the sexiest sounding item on the menu, the Bandolini Montebianco, let me type that again it sounds so good, the Bandolino Montebianco, a six cheese filled pasta purse (we couldn’t think of what the six different cheeses could have been), tossed with asparagus, garlic, fresh tomato and white wine, covered with mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven. The cheese filled pasta purses were delicious but this was the type of food that quickly fills you and Jerry had plenty to take home along with his bruschetta.

Kathy had one of the evening specials which were two grilled chicken breasts topped with spinach and mozzarella along with some shrimp in a tomato sauce with a medley of garden vegetables. This was another large portion that left her with enough for another meal.

Overall, I would have to give pretty good marks to the food at Pasta Pomodoro. It was much better than I had anticipated with the crab chowder being a match for any being served in the area. The prices are very reasonable and the four of us walked away impressed with this local dining establishment.

NEENA’S BRICKOVEN RESTAURANT

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Neena's Brickoven Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by ballymote

There were only four of us last night, my wife, Kathy and I, and our friends Jerry and Sue C. We stayed close to home and headed over to Neena’s in Sewell, NJ. We have been there several times and we have always found the food to be consistently good and very reasonably priced. Once again, a Friday in Lent limited our selections to the fish and pasta portions of the menu but fortunately, Neena’s has a multitude of dishes in those categories. Jerry started with the pasta fazool soup. He likes his food hot but he wasn’t counting on burning the roof of his mouth with the first hearty spoonful. Sue had a Caesar Salad, Kathy abstained and I ordered

what I have often mentioned as my very favorite salad choice, the Wedge, a nice chunk of iceburg lettuce with tomatoes, bacon bits and blue cheese dressing. The portion at Neena’s was HUGE. I shared some with Kathy but this salad could absolutely serve 2 people. It was excellent. All of us have certain quirks with food and one of mine is cutting my salad into much smaller pieces. That proved a challenge with the Neena wedge simply because there was so much of it.

My wine for the evening was another old reliable, the 2007 O’Reilly Pinot Noir, Oregon. This may be my favorite under $20.00 Pinot Noir and reports are that the 2008 version which has not yet reached the stores here is spectacular. It has a nice soft bouquet, plums and cherries on the palate and a smooth texture. It’s not exploding with flavor but it’s pleasant and went well with my entire meal.

Kathy and Sue both chose the Eggplant Parmesan which is served with a side of pasta. Sue declined a side while Kathy substituted broccoli and ordered a side order of broccoli rabe. Kathy enjoyed her eggplant, maybe because she knows it’s something I would never ask to sample. It looked inviting on the plate but I would need for it to be a chicken breast under the layer of cheese and marinara sauce.

I passed on the linguine with crabmeat and chose instead the Lobster Ravioli Antonio, with spinach in a light plum sauce. Great flavor in the sauce and eight very nice size ravioli filled with tasty lobster. They really did a nice job with my entree. It was one of those meals that could have made for another meal the next day. Sorry, it didn’t last long enough.

Jerry was in a pizza mood and restaurants with a brick oven usually do a better than average pizza and so he selected one with roasted red peppers and onions. Maybe they knew that he had burned his mouth of the soup and did not want to risk another heat causing injury but his pizza was not hot, warm possibly, but not hot. That was his only complaint. There was nothing wrong with the taste and after eating half he had the other half boxed. I should wander over to his place around noon and maybe we could split the last four slices!

I would have to say that Bobby and Deneen Clark, who moved Neena’s from its former location in Woodbury to its new home in Sewell have a nice place with a great choice of menu items and that explains why there were few empty tables on a friday evening.

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