Archive for Ventnor NJ


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Red Room Cafe, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2011 by ballymote

 There are some restaurants that you enjoy because of the food. There are others that stand out for other reasons. Ten of us enjoyed our Saturday evening dinner at this Ventnor, NJ BYOB because the food was good and an outstanding server named Frankie Fish not only entertained us but made us feel like part of the family.

Frank and Jill made a great tandem and with all of our wines and extra glasses we kept them hopping all evening. They handled each request with skill and professionalism. It didn’t hurt that Frank does a pretty good imitation of Robert DeNiro.

We were lucky that the Red Room Cafe had decided to extend Atlantic City Restaurant Week for a few more days and thus our three course meals including an appetizer, entree and dessert were available for the fixed price of $33.11.

 As usual, we had a nice assortment of some pretty good wines including, but not limited to, those shown here. A 2003 Chateau Molinet Lasserre, Pomerol started off the evening and was a nice solid Merlot based wine that had nice tobacco, red plum and chocolate notes with the earthy hints as well. There was also a 2008 Thumbprint Ramazotti Vineyard, Zinfandel and we always enjoy the unique wines from this California producer who we have met on both coasts. Joe B. chipped in with a very nice 1999 Castiglione del Bosco, Brunello di Montalcino, Campo del Drago. This 92 pointer from Wine Spectator took a few minutes to find itself but then the smooth flavors of crushed berries and soft tannins revealed nice hints of a well-made wine that had grown in stature during its decade in the bottle. It went well with many of the dishes served. I went with a 2007 Bella Vineyards, Alexander Valley, Dry River Ranch, Syrah. Bold flavors of rich blackberry and licorice with a combination of power and finesse made this a great match for a wide range of hearty foods. Although not pictured we had a few other wines, most notable among them was a 2007 Lost Canyon, Morelli Lane Vineyard, Pinot Noir. Great nose of lilac and mint and soft flavors of ripe cherries made this wine perfect for some of the lighter meats.

It would be virtually impossible to review all of the items and course that the ten of us enjoyed but I will focus on mine and a couple of others that I recall.

Several of our group began with salads, the House Caesar, a Roasted Beet Salad and on the right my choice of a Classic Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese dressing on the side. All were tasty with the beets drawing the most attention.

Some of the others chose items like the Eggplant Rollatini, the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe and the Manhattan Crab Chowder. All of these were met with total satisfaction

 There were lots of tempting entrees to choose from and the ten of us managed to sample quite a few. Ange and Arlene both chose the Vitello con Funghi Salavaticci, veal medallions, prosciutto and a trio of wild mushrooms sauteed in a Marsala wine and veal demi-glaze sauce. It looked great and they both totally enjoyed their selection.

 Gerry went with the Bronzino fillet served, as were most dishes, with mashed potatoes and asparagus spears, I went with the fettucine Al Rubinio, toasted jumbo lump crab meat served over a bed of fettuccine in a roasted garlic cream sauce. My dish was very good. The sauce was subtle and not overpowering. I took enough home for a Sunday lunch.

One of the ladies ordered the Ravioli Aragosta, homemade ravioli stuffed with lobster and served in a rose Cognac cream sauce and another had the Gamberi Imbottiti, jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab meat in a wine sauce.

Val opted for the Pollo alla Parmagiana served over a bed of spaghetti in a rich marinara sauce. Kathy chose the Salmon with a dijon mustard sauce. Her dinner was delayed for about eight minutes and it made for some slight tension. She thought the fish was good but that the sauce lacked flavor. A common complaint amongst several in our party that although everything was fresh that the sauces and flavorings left a little to be desired. This wasn’t a major complaint but it would have been nice if the entire meal matched the warmth and charm displayed by our server, Frankie Fish.

The tray of fresh desserts looked terrific and I know we sampled almost all of them. By this time we were in a bit of a rush as we had show tickets and the start time was quickly approaching. Overall, it was quite a fun night. The food was good and the service was top-notch. I would strongly suggest adding The Red Room Cafe  in Ventnor to your list of BYOBs to visit during your trips to the Jersey shore this summer.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Sage Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by ballymote

Chef Lisa Savage presides over this popular Ventnor BYOB. Lisa operated Savaradio’s which closed up a few years ago and Sage is her latest effort.  The place was highly recommended by friends and the four of us had high expectations for the evening.  Through a series of almost laughable directional faux pas we were almost 40 minutes late for our 7PM reservation but the hostess was nice enough to hold our table amidst the crush of hungry diners.                                         IMG_2593

Once seated we opened our wines for the evening and studied the enticing menu. On this night we were drinking the 2004 Franciscan “Magnificat” an excellent Cab blend with deep, rich fruit and a long smooth finish. I had bought the 2006 Ribbon Ridge, Oregon, Pinot Noir and I wanted something from the menu which would pair well with this wine. Our final wine for the evening was a 2004 Whitehall Lane Cabernet, a producer who manages to turn out very good wines every vintage.IMG_2595

We started with salads and although I am not one to rave about how good a salad was, my Caesar Salad at Sage was exceptional. It was crisp, fresh and the dressing portion was perfect. In fact, everyone raved about their salads both the Caesar and the Sage salad. For my entree I had the halibut (Halibut in Guazetto: pan seared filet set on top of fregola sardo in a lightly spicy tomato broth garnished with jumbo lump crab tossed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon 28). It went well with the Pinot Noir and the meal was enjoyable. The flavors were subtle, maybe bordering on too subtle as I might have preferred a little more kick to the sauce. Kathy had the shrimp with whole wheat pasta, JoAnn had sausage and pasta and Gerry had capellini with jumbo lump crabmeat.

Pasta w/sausage

Pasta w/sausage

Capellini w/crabmeat

Capellini w/crabmeat







Halibut in Gauzetto

Halibut in Gauzetto

Shrimp w/whole wheat pasta

Shrimp w/whole wheat pasta

The overall experience was enjoyable. It may be that expectations were set a bit too high. Everything was good but aside from the salads, nothing was great. Sage is obviously a very popular BYOB as every seat was taken and there were plenty of diners waiting for seats to open. It’s certainly worth trying again and I would not discourage readers from making the trip to Ventnor for a night at Sage.