Archive for the South Jersey BYOB Reviews Category


Posted in Pasta Pomadoro (2nd review) with tags , , on November 21, 2011 by ballymote


This turned out to be an unexpected visit to this very local eatery. We had just walked out of Arugula after a disappointing wait for our 8 o’clock reservation. Pasta Pomadoro was the closest place to eat and so we pulled in without a reservation and were quickly seated. This place may not be gourmet dining but you can always count on some nice entrees at excellent prices and this was true on this Friday evening.




                                     I had with me a nice bottle of 2006 Stefania, Eaglepoint Ranch, Syrah while our friends, Jerry and Sue shared a 2009 Folie a Deux, Menage a Trois, an interesting California red blend. Both these wine went very well with most of the pasta dishes on the Pasta Pomadoro menu.




  I ordered the Linguini Matriciana with Chicken. It was a great choice full of rich flavors and nice tender chicken pieces. The portion, as usual, was large enough to serve as two meals and I enjoyed what I didn’t finish the next evening at home.

Good food, great prices.



Posted in Lillian's Cafe with tags , on November 13, 2011 by ballymote


 Lillian’s Cafe in Audubon, NJ occupies the site which formerly housed another restaurant, Alphabet Soup. The menu and decor have changed but the “Alphabet Chairs” remain.  If you were once a big fan of the “K” chair, or the “M” chair, or even the “Q” chair, the chance exists that you will be able to plant your butt in it, unless someone has gotten there first.

 I’m happy to report that the menu and food is better at Lillian’s than it was at Alphabet Soup.


    I had a bottle of the 2007, Ancient Peaks, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CA. This is another one of those modestly priced cabs that has more flavor than should be expected at this price point. It’s a great daily drinker.






 This was the Crab Cake appetizer that was excellent with a duo of dipping sauces that were the perfect companion to the meaty crab cakes.






 A couple of folks in our party had the Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Butter, an 8 oz. cut of nicely prepared steak with a blue cheese and herb compound butter served with mashed potatoes and asparagus spears.





 This was Roast Pork dish with broccoli rabe and a sweet potato hash. It looked delicious.





 I had the Baked Chicken which was served with a chive chicken au jus om a bed of creamy goat cheese and asparagus risotto. The chicken was flavorful and nicely prepared buy the risotto which I was looking forward to enjoying was a complete miss. The texture was poor and it was congealed beyond being servable. It did not totally detract from my meal and I would be willing to return for another performance.


I would certainly say that Lillian’s is a BYOB that you might enjoy and a cut above the previous Alphabet Soup.


Posted in Ristorante Toscana - Cherry Hill with tags , on November 12, 2011 by ballymote


  We had eaten in this shopping center a few times but had never been to Ristorante Toscana. We were under the impression that it was another location of Toscana Restaurant in Mullica Hill which we have been to a few times. It turns out they are only vaguely related….like third cousins, maybe.

Like its southern cousin, they have an extensive menu with an emphasis on items from a wood-burning stove.

My wife Kathy and I were glad to see one of our favorite salads  which we enjoyed in Mullica Hill, The Wedge.

        I do have to agree with her that any meal that begins with this particular salad can’t be all bad. Crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, fresh bacon and an ample serving of blue cheese dressing make this a winner in my book.



 Additionally, we had brought along a bottle of one of my wife’s favorite wines, the 2007 Angel’s Landing, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. I think if we had just left her alone with her wine and her salad she would have been totally satisfied.


Once again, because of the time that has gone by I do not remember what we all had to eat so I will simply enclose some of the pictures of our dishes.
















Everything was pretty good. We had no complaints. I think if you put a gun to my head I prefer the distant cousin in Mullica Hill.


Posted in Manna Restaurant, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 12, 2011 by ballymote

 Several of us had been wanting to get back to Manna for some time after being there for a wine tasting a couple of year’s ago.

The food is excellent and it was a fun time for ten of us. The menu is eclectic with small plates (tapas) and large plates (think entrees). All of us found so many dishes we thought sounded great that it was difficult to limit our choices.

We had a nice selection of wines including a 2009 Cakebread, Sauvignon Blanc and a 2007 Ridge, Zinfandel.



 Once again, because of the time-lapse, I’m not certain what everyone had to eat. I do know that a few in our party enjoyed the Our Paella with jumbo shrimp, lump crab, clams, rice, chicken, chorizo, saffron and tomato. It looked delicious.


 I do recall that I had the Vanilla-Maple Laquered Chicken breast and it was excellent with house made truffled fries.

  The eight ounce filet in a port wine reduction was another favorite as was the

                                                                                                      Lamb Chop with a Caribbean Salsa .

Manna is definitely a restaurant that deserves more than one visit and hopefully, we will be back there soon. Do yourself a favor and click on the link to check out their awesome menu.


Posted in Luke Palladino with tags , on November 12, 2011 by ballymote

 OK, the last time I did an actual review it was back at the start of the summer and we were at Luke Palladino’s restaurant in Northfield, NJ. I mentioned that I went there NOT wanting to like it due to some, less than pleasant previous attempts at garnering a reservation. The truth is, the food was just too good to not like.

In attempting this “catch-up” on reviews I am going to have to limit myself to mini-reviews until we get back to the present so I will conclude the Luke Palladino review by simply saying everything was very good and one item was GREAT.


It was the gnocchi. I don’t recall how it was prepared those few months ago but it was right up there with Chef Alex Capasso’s gnocchi at Blackbird in Collingswood. This dish alone would have made it worth the 45 minute drive.

The place is small. The tables are tight, but the food is first-rate.


Posted in Luke Palladino, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , on June 25, 2011 by ballymote

 I have to confess that I was hoping NOT to like my dinner at Luke Palladino’s in Northfield, NJ. Last summer, I was attempting to make reservations for ten of us and Luke went into a ten minute rant as to what would happen if we failed to show for our reservation without calling 24 hours in advance. He took my credit card number and explained there would be a $50.00 per person charge PLUS tax and gratuity. I understand the importance of keeping reservations, especially when it’s for ten people in a place that only seats 30. I found it a little insulting though to have such focus on the dire consequences of such actions. I called a couple of days later and cancelled just on general principles.

This time it was just my wife, Kathy and our friends who live down near the shore, Mike and Mya M. celebrating a “long time no see each other” event.


I had brought with me a couple of nice bottles of wine which we shared. The first was the 2006 Melville, Estate, Pinot Noir. This one had a soft bouquet of spring flowers and strawberries on the nose and lots of spice and tea flavors intermingled with black cherries and soft tannins leading to a smooth, lasting finish. The second wine, a 2005 Keenan Napa Valley Merlot helped me remember just how good a nice Merlot can be. This had bright fruit flavors and a smoky tobacco essence and went really well with many of the meat dishes that we enjoyed.

 The menu at Luke Palladino’s is designed to encourage family-style samplings of several different courses.



 We started with Arancini, crisp risotto fritters filled with truffled sottocenere cheese and scallions. There was one for each of us and each of these fried goodies were stacked with great flavor. I have had these at a few different places and these were clearly the best of them all.

















































































Posted in Bacio Italian Cuisine, Wine Dinners with tags , , , on May 29, 2011 by ballymote

 Bacio Italian Cuisine is located on busy Rt. 130 in Cinaminnson, NJ. and it’s a bit of a ride from our homes in Washington Twp. A couple of our dining companions had been there previously and, if their memory was correct, they weren’t totally sure it was worth the drive. It was a BYOB that I had read about often and I wanted to find out for myself what it was like. Six of us made the ride last Saturday evening for a 7:30 reservation. (I have had one of these those writing “lulls” and it’s now been 3 weeks since our visit and I will attempt to recall the evening. I do know we all enjoyed our meal).

 I thought about saying that we didn’t bring any wine with us but, in keeping with a policy of total honesty, I had with me a 2009 Cupcake, Red Velvet, Wine. This is a zinfandel blend and there is a story to go with it. Several months ago I attended a wine tasting at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ with my friend, Gerry B. There were hundreds of wines available and one of the producers tending a booth implored me to try the Cupcake Red Velvet. I tasted it to be nice and was slightly surprised that it wasn’t bad. The recent sale at $7.49 a bottle convinced me to give it one more try. It didn’t really deliver. The initial mouth feel is ok with some bright fruit and pepper but it disappears quickly, something that is almost a trademark of weak wines in that price area.

Bacio featured a nice menu with lots of tempting choices.

 I totally enjoyed my choice of an appetizer, the Crispelle della Nonna, Italian crepe stuffed with jumbo lump crabmeat, spinach and artichokes, baked in a gorgonzola cream sauce. This would have made a nice entree with an additional crepe but by itself was a great start to the meal. Here are some of the other items that our party of six chose to start off their meal.

Left to right we have the Roast Pork Bruschetta, slow-roasted pork, broccoli rabe and aged provolone baked on top of Tuscan-style, hearth-baked bruschetta. The interesting concoction titled Olive all Ascolana, fried olives stuffed with ground veal and pork and served with a cucumber salsa. I almost went with this one but Joe B. commented that it was just OK. My wife, Kathy, went with the Arugula Salad, crisp baby arugula, cherry tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts tossed with fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil, topped with pan-roasted pignoli nuts and shaved grana padano cheese. She thought her salad was very good.

One of the entrees that we enjoyed was the Cold Water Rock Lobster and Crabmeat, sauteed with Roma tomatoes, roasted garlic, white wine and lemon over capelinni. Carol and Joe thought the lobster consisted of generous portions and was well prepared.


 Kathy had the Penne a la Amatriciana, tossed with grilled chicken breast, spinach, prosciutta, pomadora and fresh mozzarella. Nice rich flavors and expertly prepared pasta had Kathy pleased with her entree.

I went with the Roast Pork Casoulet, slow roasted pulled pork shoulder cooked with sausage, cannellini beans, roasted peppers and broccoli rabe. This wasn’t quite as good as my crepe appetizer but it was still a tasty dish and another generous portion.

We skipped desserts but all of us were pleased with our dinner at Bacio and we were glad we had driven the extra distance.