Monday, November 16, 2009

Coltello - Crosswicks, NJ

After a quick visit to the Trenton City Museum for two openings tonight, Zelda and I headed over to Coltello in Crosswicks, NJ to visit Chef Dominic’s new venture. Coltello is located in the heart of Crosswicks on Main Street, in the location that used to be home to Café Giangella. The restaurant is set up the same way as the prior establishment, but it has a much warmer feel. You walk in the door and see the glass sign adorning the name Coltello, and are greeted by a small table, nicely dressed with tulips, candles, and a great picture of Chef Dominic and some family. The walls have been painted a nice dark green evergreen color, with gorgeous white trim and dark green curtains. The tables are topped with nice tablecloths, and finished off with place settings, a vase of tulips, and a candle. They did a great job decorating, and the place looks truly elegant. Shortly upon entering, we were greeted and asked if we had a reservation. Of course we didn’t but thankfully they squeezed us in. Needless to say we took the last 2 top, but there were still a few open tables, that had all been reserved. We pulled out the Riedel’s and a bottle of 2001 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro, and it was immediately opened by the gracious host Richard Sr. Upon looking over the menu, the first thing that I notice is the pricing. For the area, I have to say that this is the most reasonably priced, value priced menu for an Italian restaurant in the area. I won’t name other establishments, but I thought the pricing was better than most. Our bus boy came over shortly after, offering us tap or bottled water, and he was very friendly. The appetizers ranged anywhere from soups and salads, to stuffed breads, and many others. Unfortunately, they do not have the menu online yet, but I am sure it will be in just a matter of time. Our server came over shortly after, and she was very friendly. We ordered the Spedini to start, which is a stuffed bread appetizer, and continued to look over the menu. They also had a few nice specials tonight, ranging from an appetizer to entrees. Out came a nice basket of bread, as well as a gorgeous plate of olive oil infused with garlic, and topped with several whole cloves of garlic. This tasted as though the garlic had been soaking in there for years. It was awesome. Shortly after a bowl filled with sautéed onion, mushroom, some sort of Italian herb, and parmesan cheese came out, and this was to die for. I am not a big mushroom fan, but the way that these were cooked made it impossible not to shovel these onto my bread. It had a great crispness to it, and was just so flavorful. Zelda mentioned that it almost tasted as though this was baked. Absolute deliciousness! Our server came back and took our order. Zelda opted for the Tortolini with grilled chicken, and I went out of my norm and ordered Lobster Francaise. Shortly after ordering, our Spedini came out, and this was a gorgeous, large serving of skewered bread, stuffed with a ton of mozzarella cheese, then dipped in batter and friend to a golden brown. It was then topped with a nice marinara sauce, and garnished with just a few anchovies. The crispiness of the batter was very nice, and the red sauce was homemade and delicious! The anchovy added just the right amount of salt and flavor to the dish, and I think that this was a winner. Out came our salads after this, and we had both opted for the Caesar. This was a nice, light dressing, with very subtle flavors over a bed of fancy greens with cucumber and tomato. Perfect size portion as to not ruin our dinner after a heavy appetizer. By this time, the entire restaurant was filled with a few two tops, many 4 tops, and quite a few larger round tables. It was great to see the place packed, and great to see many familiar faces from The Little Flower, where Chef Dominic worked a few years ago on Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown. It was like seeing the old gang hanging out, and it just screamed family. Out came our entrees, and they were both nicely sized. Zelda’s pasta came out in a giant bowl, and tasted as fresh as can be. I don’t know if they are making their pasta on premise, but it sure tasted like it. The flavors in the pasta were very nice, along with a great sauce, and very nicely cooked chicken. They chicken had a great grilled flavor, and a nice browned crisp to it. It was delicious, and I would definitely order this for myself sometime. My lobster came out with 2 nicely sized medallions, breaded and fried, served with a nice, rich sauce. The lobster was very tender, and cooked perfectly. There was no toughness to it in the least, and I couldn’t have cooked this any better. It was garnished with nice, fresh green beans, and a citrus sauce. Unfortunately, we were both stuffed, so we skipped coffee and desserts. By this time, we also saw some customers waiting, so we finished our glasses of wine, corked the ½ bottle we had remaining, paid our tab, and headed for home. On our way out, we popped our heads in the kitchen to congratulate Chef Dominic. Let me say that the kitchen was hoppin’, and absolutely immaculate. The grill in the back had all kind of things fired, and the stove had all the burners full with entrees cooking away. To the right side of the kitchen was a large salad station, where the servers were working away getting soups and salads ready to go out. It was great to see them working hard, and working as a team. All in all, this is a great place, and an up and coming new Italian restaurant that is going to thrive. Coltello has great ambiance, first class service with a smile, a great family feel, and most importantly, incredible Italian food with a personal flair. Crosswicks might be off the beaten path for some, but it is just a 7 minute drive off of Route 130, and absolutely worth the trip. This is definitely the best Italian BYO in the area, and it is just a matter of time before their name is on the map. Kudos to Richard Sr., Richard Jr., and Chef Dominic for putting family back in their food. This is just what the area needs, and I look forward to hearing experiences from others who frequent this great new restaurant. Chef Dominic has always been one of the most talented young chefs in the area, and I look forward to trying many more of his creations! Hopefully he’ll put his Chicken Oscar back on his new menu, or as one of his specials. This has always been one of my favorite dishes that he creates. Keep up the great work! Coltello 460 Main Street Crosswicks, NJ 08515 Phone: (609)298-6128

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