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.