This was the last bottle of the night, and the first thing I grabbed. This was given to us as a gift, so why not. Nose of dark berry fruits, with hints of oak, eucalyptus, and vanilla. Nothing super inspiring, but not offensive in the least. Hints of spice and earthiness rounded out the nose, with the smallest hint of coffee bean. On the palate, this was very drinkable, and would make for yet another good house wine. I don’t think most people would guess this was merlot in a blind tasting, but the fruit profile was nice.
More dark black and blue berry on the palate, with hints of plum and dark cherries. Nice spice, a good crisp acidity, and subtle tannins made this wine very easy to drink. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this wine, but I could see many guests enjoying this wine. This once again proves that there is nothing in the least wrong with drinking merlot. Not inspiring in the least, and I wouldn’t run out to purchase this wine, but I would indeed drink it again. 83 points. Cheers!
We haven’t opened a bottle of the ’06 here in almost 5 months, so why not! This wine is really coming into its drinking window, but I can see this wine continuing to develop for another 3-5 years, and I am guessing it will drink well even beyond that.
Gorgeous dark color in the glass, but a floral nose of dark black and blue fruits. Hints of plum, black cherry, blueberry, and blackberry, with nice spice and creamy vanilla. The nose has such great floral notes here, with a bit of pepper and spice. Such a great nose!
Once again, the palate here was a pleasure, and this wine drank well from the start. More of the same on the palate, with a really nice velvety smoothness on the palate. The tannins and acidity are in a really nice spot, and this is just one of those wines you could never get sick of! Unfortunately, we’re down to our last 4 in the cellar, so we have to start rationing these as I am really curious to see how it is going to develop. Another 92 pointer from Paul and Stef! Cheers!
We’ve been told about DeAnna’s in Lambertville many times, but have yet to visit. We have heard great things about their homemade pasta, and after hearing it come up in conversation again last night, we decided to head to Lambertville tonight and give it a whirl.
We arrived at Deana’s a few minutes early, and Lambertville was definitely buzzing tonight as it was the weekend of The Shad Festival. I found parking in their lot, and we walked in a few minutes early. Upon walking in, the restaurant was packed, and had a great vibe. The décor was nice, the lighting was perfect, and it looked like such a wonderful place. From the vibe the bar gave off, to the giant peacock hanging above the bar, to the gorgeous red lamps on the corner of the bar, it just had such a nice feel.
We were seated at a two top behind the bar, and greeted by our waiter Luigi. It’s not often that we go to a restaurant that is not a BYO, and upon looking at the wine list, they had a few nice wines on their by the bottle, but we opted for cocktails tonight. Zelda with her usual Tanqueray and tonic, and I opted for a Stella tonight. Luigi came back and gave us the specials for the evening, and we were ready to order.
For starters, we went with the Fried Peccorino Romano in a balsamic vinegar with fresh fruits. This came out as two nice slices of pan fried cheese on a plate, with fresh strawberries, blackberries, and red grapes. The cheese itself was firm and salty, but the balsamic gave it a nice sweetness to neutralize the salt. Overall, I think this was a good dish, but if it were me, I think I would have given the cheese a few more minutes in the pan to soften it just a bit, and heat it all the way through. We also received a basket of nice, hot, crisp bread, served with butter. The bread was very good, and I am assuming that it was homemade.
Next out where the salads that accompanied our dishes, consisting of some fancy lettuce and a balsamic vinaigrette. This was plain and simple, but there really wasn’t much to it. Lettuce! And only lettuce. As we’ve said before, it is not hard to dress up a salad to make it more interesting, but maybe this isn’t what Deanna is going for here. It was OK, but left room for improvement. Maybe just a couple half sliced cherry or plum tomatoes, or even a few simple croutons or freshly shaved parmesan. It could have made this salad a lot better.
For entrees, Zelda opted for the gnocchi as she is a huge gnocchi fan, and seeing as they were homemade, she really looked forward to trying it. The gnocchi themselves were good, but in all honesty, I don’t know that I ever would have guessed that these were homemade as there was nothing really distinguishing it from other gnocchi we’ve had. The sauce itself was a bit boring and uninspiring, and seemed to be very watery. There were some chunks of tomatoes here and there, but overall, the sauce reminded me of a can of crushed Red Pack tomato with a little salt and pepper. Just a bit bland, and a bit blasé.
I ended up opting for the manicotti special tonight, which was served in an alfredo sauce, with shallots and prosciutto. This dish looked gorgeous, however, like Zelda’s gnocchi, it too was a bit bland. The cheese filling needed some salt and seasoning, although, I really did appreciate the texture of the cheese. If it weren’t for the salt in the prosciutto, this dish would have been very under seasoned. The sauce itself was good, but again, not mind blowing.
We ended up skipping dessert, grabbing our check, and heading back towards home. Overall, the restaurant has everything it needs to be fantastic, from the ambiance, to the menu. Maybe we caught the chef on a bad night, but we just found it to be very uninspiring, and overall our dishes just seemed bland and uninspiring. Maybe we’ll give it a shot again in the future, but I don’t see us going out of our way to return. Cheers. –F. Scott
DeAnna’s Restaurant | Bar
54 N.FRANKLIN STREET
LAMBERTVILLE, NJ 08530
What is there to say about Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies other than awesome? Tonight, we opted to go to the Robbinsville location on Route 33, and there was about a half hour wait. That being said, we walked across the parking lot to Dolce and Clemente’s for find some fun Italian foods and snacks to bring home. We ended up leaving there with a Stromboli that was absolutely delicious for lunch on Saturday, as well as a prosciutto roll, some Boars Head hot dogs, and some tuna salad for Zelda.
We headed back to Delorenzo’s, and were seated about 10 minutes later, and our server was Tony, who we have sat with many times. He’s a great server, and always interested to hear about new restaurants we have visited. He promptly came over and opened our 2006 Carlisle Petite Sirah Yorkville Highlands and took our order.
We started off with the antipasto salad, and this is always a pleasure. A nice hard cheese, as well as some fresh mozz with a dab of pesto. Also served with a few fresh slices of prosciutto, salami, fresh beans, artichoke, roasted red pepper, breadsticks, olives, and two peppers stuff with fresh cheese and ham. There may have been more, but I cannot remember for sure at this point. Regardless, it was a heck of a great app, and absolutely wonderful like always.
On the tomato pie front, we went with our usual of all sweet peeper, and half sausage. Do I really need to write about this pie? Absolutely as it was another Delorenzo’s classic! The crust was perfect, the sauce is as only Delorenzo’s does, the peppers were delicious, and the sausage was delectable. We even had leftovers to take home, which will make a great snack over the weekend.
All in all, what can I say other than awesome. We could eat here once a week and never get sick of it, and it’s just a great pie, in an awesome establishment. Kudos to Sammy and his crew over there, and we look forward to our next visit, as well as a visit to the original Hudson Street location in Trenton! Cheers!
If there is yet another varietal that we do not drink enough of, it is Petit Sirah. I have yet to have a petite sirah that has blown my mind, but this one was very tasty. Popped and poured tonight at Delorenzo’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, NJ, this showed a very nice dark color in the glass. When I say dark, this was dark. On the nose, some very nice dark berries dominate, with some nice hints of earth and vanilla. The nose was rounded out by a bit of cherry and mocha tones, and it was very pleasurable.
On the palate, the wine showed very young, with some strong tannins and oak dominating, showing that I think this wine will easily age for another 4-5 years plus. More mixed berries on the palate, with a ton of black fruits strutting their stuff. This wine really started to open up at hour one, but the tannins and oak were still there. We put the cork back in the bottle and brought the rest home to finish, and it was a bit more of the same, but some blue berry started to come out as we got to the end of the bottle. There was a quite a bit of sediment in the bottle, so I don’t know if this is unfiltered, or if it was just a fluke. This bottle has been stored at 55 degrees since purchase direct from the winery thanks to our good friends Tom and Denise sharing their allocation with us.
All in all, a nice petite sirah, and I look forward to the other bottle we have in the next 3-5 years. 90 points. Cheers!
Popped and poured tonight for Zelda's birthday at Melange in Haddonfield, NJ. Gorgeous ruby color in the glass as always. On the nose, once again, it has that "oh so" distinctive Kosta Browne nose that you could pick out of the group blind. Sweet cherry cola, raspberry and spice on the nose, with secondary nuances of raspberry and strawberry. A tiny bit of alcohol comes through on the nose, but it is very subtle, and I would guess this would blow off with an hour in the decanter.
On the palate, this wine seems very light from the get go. Nice red and berry fruits on the palate, with again, some cherry cola and hints of raspberry. The baked cherry pie dominates the palate on this wine, and that is not a bad thing in the least. Subtle spices come through, and in my opinion, the oak is totally integrated in this wine. Again, it is light, and if anything, it lacked just the slightest bit of acidity and minerality. Stood up surprisingly well to the Cajun spices in the dinner, as well as the mustard in my rack of lamb. Not mind blowing, but a great pinot, although a bit overpriced based on the complexity of this wine. Regardless, I'm still a fan. 90 points. Cheers!
In celebration of Zelda’s birthday, she decided that she wanted to go to Melange in Haddonfield, NJ tonight, so that is where we went. This was our first trip to Melange, and it has come highly recommended by our friends, and fellow foodies/oenophiles Tom and Denise. Needless to say, they have never let us down on a recommendation, and the same holds true.
We walked in the restaurant and were greeted by Chef and owner Joe Brown. We had a reservation, and arrived about 10 minutes early, but they had no problem seating us whatsoever. We were sat at one of the side tables in the back portion of the restaurant, and they had a great crowd tonight.
Like many of the restaurants we enjoy visiting, Melange is BYOB, so I grabbed a 2006 Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch pinot noir from our Riedel carrying case, and decided to use their stems tonight. Kosta Browne has always been one of our favorites, so I figured we’d drink something tonight that Zelda would really enjoy, whether it would go with the Cajun cuisine or not. Needless to say, it stood up OK to the food and spice, so feel free to read the 90 point review below.
Lisa, I think, was our server tonight, and she came over and opened our wine for us and told us about their specials. There were definitely some specials that sounded delicious, but I think our minds had already been made up after looking at the menu online earlier in the week. For starters, Zelda ordered the Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Biscuits, and it was gorgeous. The shrimp were cooked to perfection, and the light tomato colored broth had some great spice to it. The flavors all melded together very nicely, and this is just one of those dishes you could eat for dinner. The cheese biscuits were good and dense, and were a very nice addition to the soup. I could eat these biscuits all day long, but who couldn’t.
I on the other hand went for the surf and turf appetizer, consisting of 3 very nice pan seared scallops, topped in slow roasted short rib, and drizzled with a barbequed butter. There was also a side of saffron truffle risotto. The scallops again were cooked very nicely with a great caramelized sear on them. These were delicious, with some great sweetness to them, and the texture was just so nice. The short rib was tender and very sweet, and couldn’t have been more enjoyable. The sweet BBQ sauce was again a great touch, and these were just gorgeous. As much of a waste as it would be, I would love to get a heaping helping of these, put them on a bun, and eat them like a BBQ sandwich. The risotto was very nice as well, and the flavor of the pungent truffle was nice.
In the meantime, Chef Brown had stopped by our table to see how everything was, and as we told him, everything was great thus far. He seemed to make his way around the restaurant, visiting every table, and checking on his clients. This is always a nice touch, and it is good to see a chef who cares. He would then disappear back into the kitchen for a few minutes at a time to make sure his chefs were cooking to his standards. I also asked him if he had his cookbook there for sale, but unfortunately, he hasn’t done another run of these. So if anyone knows a publisher looking to print a great cookbook, have them get a hold of Chef Brown! I would love to pick up a copy of this, and am going to have to look for it online.
For entrees tonight, I was shocked to see Zelda order the Chicken, Red Beans and Rice instead of the Shrimp and Cheese Grits after she had been talking about them all week. Regardless, she enjoyed it. This had slow simmered Andouille sausage, peaches, brown sugar, Chef Joe’s Cajun seasoning, served with biscuits and sour cream. I had a few bites of this, and really enjoyed the flavors of the Andouille. The sausage had some very nice spice to it, and paired nicely with the beans and rice. One of the comments that Zelda made was the fact that she would have preferred the peaches on the top, giving them more flavor, and making them a more substantial element of the dish. But even so, she enjoyed it, and mentioned that she could even do without the chicken as the beans and rice were a dish in itself. She didn’t however eat the sausage, as she is not a beef or pork eater, but she would didn’t want to order it without the sausage as this is what gives the dish some of its flavor.
I too went against my original plan which was to order the short ribs, but having them in my appetizer, I instead opted for the rack of lamb, which was roasted with a crusted herb crumb mustard, a Dijon reduction, and fresh vegetables and potatoes. I do have to say that no rack of lamb ever lives up to Chef Matt’s rack of lamb at Oliver-A Bistro in Bordentown, but I did like the mustard elements of this dish. The lamb was cooked nicely, but I wasn’t able to tell if this was New Zealand rack of lamb, or where it was from. Did it blow my mind? No, not at all, but it was still tasty, and I cannot eat enough lamb. The potatoes were very nice, and the vegetable medley paired nicely as well. Regardless, I focused on the lamb, and left the potatoes and veg to save room for dessert.
For dessert tonight, Zelda ordered the pecan pie, and it did not disappoint in the least. The flavors of this pecan pie were awesome, with small, chopped pecans. This came out piping hot, and was not overly sweet. I on the other hand could not pass up the bread pudding, which was absolutely massive! So massive in fact, that I had to bring half of it home. The bread pudding was sliced thick, and was very dense, served with a good vanilla caramel sauce on the side. The furthest thing I was was disappointed or hungry! I was absolutely stuffed, and couldn’t eat another bite.
So after a great evening, we finished our wine, and just had a great evening. From the service to the cuisine, everything was excellent. I love the fact that Chef Brown was all about being out in the dining room, and making sure his customers were happy. This is always a nice touch, and it shows that he really cares about his customers. What a great evening, and a great way to celebrate Zelda’s birthday. Cheers!
Well I remember seeing this post on Chowhound about Sonja's a couple of months ago, and also heard about it again from one of my instructors on Monday. So today, I figured I would give Sonja's a try. That said, one of my co-workers and I made out way over there. I had heard from "Coach Dan" that Sonja's had an awesome rueben, so I had to give it a try as I have had a rueben craving since Sunday night for whatever reason.
Pulled in, and the place isn't much to look at. It's an old building reminiscent of an old VFW post with parking in the back. You walk in the double doors on the side into the dining room to see some dated pink walls, and German decor. Sure, the place could use some updating, but what do you expect in Pemberton, NJ? The first thing you notice walking into the restaurant is the special board, where I saw a rueben and chips for $6.00, as well as a meatball parm sandwich! YUM! My decision was almost made!
We were the first ones in the restaurant around 11:30 this morning, and sat at a table in the window facing the street and the church across the street. Our server immediately came over and took our drink order as we thought about lunch. Although the meatball parm sounded fantastic, I had to go with the rueben since that is what I came for.
Needless to say, Holly ordered the meatball parm sandwich special with fries, and I went for the rueben and chips. Couldn't have been more than 10 minutes and our food came out. My sandwich was piping hot and gorgeous, with melted cheese and sauerkraut oozing out the sides of the perfectly grilled bread. This is definitely in the top 3 rueben's I have had of all time, and I have eaten a lot. The flavors of the corned beef were awesome, and the cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing couldn't have been any better. I am 99.9% sure the dressing is made fresh in house, as it was very tasty, with nice big chunks of fresh pickle or relish in it. The chips were chips, but I was all about the sammy, not the chips! Absolutely delish, and I couldn't have been any happier with the sandwich.
Holly's meatball parm sandwich looked killer! Nice looking meatballs, and a ton of melted cheese on a nice torpedo type roll. The sauce looked great and flavorful, and next time I go back, I am giving this bad boy a whirl!
All in all, a heck of a great lunch, with very good, very friendly service. If you are looking for ambiance, this isn’t the place to go, but if you are looking for a good affordable lunch, I wouldn’t hesitate in the least! Being so close to my office, I think it will be hard not to visit Sonja’s at least a few times a month! Great call Coach Dan! Readers: be sure to follow his basketball team from Doane Academy in the papers next season! They just might be your state champs next season in basketball! You heard it from me first! Cheers! -F. Scott
Grabbed this one by accident today, thinking it was an '07. Guess I should have looked closer, but wanted to age this one another 3-5 years before re-visiting, alas, we had to pop it when we got to the K Fusion. Popped and poured, with a nice nose of cherry and sweet creamy vanilla.
On the palate, the fruit was very subdued, and once again shows that my reasoning in wanting cellar this wine for a few more years would have paid off. Bummer. Some hints of sour cherry and strawberry, with a bit of pomegranate. The finish was short, but pleasant. By the end of dinner, the wine was starting to open up and strut it’s stuff. Re-corked and put in the cellar over night, it kind of fell apart over night which I found surprising. This wine definitely has the potential for some pleasant greatness, but if I had anymore, I would hold them for another 3-5 years. Very disappointed that this one got popped so early, but it’s my own fault for not looking at the label closer.
As you can tell, I am trying to drink down our cellar, and get rid of a lot of cheaper wines we have bought on impulse. This is one of those wines that falls into this category, but really, at $6.99, this isn't a bad buy in the least.
Both the nose and the palate really reminded me of a $10-15 Bordeaux for some reason, which is not a bad thing considering what this wine actually cost. Not a lot on the nose other than a ton of alcohol, a bit of red fruit, a lot of oak, and the smallest hint of brett. Some slight hints of pencil led, slate, and currants are what really reminded me of a cheap Bordeaux. Call me crazy, but if tasting this blind, I would have guessed it were a cheap Bordeaux, or maybe even a Chateanuef from the nose alone. Some minor strawberry nuances showed on the nose as well, but I think the alcohol dominated everything else, but maybe it just needed more time. Being non-vintage, I guess we may never know.
It was a bit strange though, and didn’t remind me of an Italian wine in the least. Maybe the other bottles will show differently if we ever decide to give it a whirl again. I am sure there is some bottle variation here as this is a mass produced wine.
On the palate, nothing really shines though, but this is a decent table wine after a few hours in the glass for the alcohol to blow off. Not a bad quaffer for the money, and like I said, a decent table wine. Blows $2 Chuck out of the water any day of the week, and would be a perfect table wine for guests with pizza. Cheers
Yet again, another Toby that was over the top, and albeit tasty, it was a little too much for me. I really hate to admit that these wines don't appeal to my palate like they once did.
This one was very "grapey" so to say. Nice grapey nose if you know what I mean, reminiscint of Concord grapes. Lots of blueberry and dark fruits on the nose, with subtle hints of oak.
On the palate, the fruit was all over the place. You name it, it was there, and it was in your face! Tons of red fruits, and it really reminded me of a ag of Skittles. "Taste the rainbow." A nice finish, with good acidity, and a pleasant finish. 85 points. Cheers!
You know that Spring is here when it is Surf Taco time in Manasquan. This morning, we had to get up for an early funeral in Brielle, to pay our respects to Zelda's good childhood friends grandmother "Mayme," and afterwards, we figured we'd stop at Surf Taco for lunch. This is usually one of our stops on the way to the beach over the summer, and it is how we know that summer is here. That being said, we were both excited to visit today.
Both Zelda and I ordered the famous Surf Taco, she going for the original, and myself going for the Baja Surg Taco. The original Surf Taco is cod battered in tempura topped with shredded cabbage, Pico de Gallo, white cilantro sauce and a squeeze of lime. The Baja Surf Taco however is Fresh Cod battered in tempura topped with shredded cabbage, chipotle mayo, avocado sauce, baja salsa & a squeeze of lime in a double corn tortilla. Zelda stated that hers was great, while mone on the other hand could have been a lot warmer. Unfortunately, the cod was luke warm at best, however all the flavors were there, and it was still tasty. Had it been right out of the fryer, it would have been awesome.
Zelda also opted for a bean and cheese burrito,which too had good flavors, and was piping hot. I went for the quesedilla with onion and peppers, and it was great. The grilled vegetables added some really nice flavors to the what would normally be a pretty plain and boring quesedilla.
Finally, we ordered some chips and cheese on the side, and these were tasty, with nice melted cheese.
This is just a start, and I will finish the rest of this entry soon. Cheers! -F. Scott
If there is one wine that I absolutely have loved, it is has been Tobin James. Toby and Lance make some fun, over the top fruit bombs, and this was no exception.
Unfortunately, I don't know if my palate is maturing, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for an over the top wine tonight. This one showed quite a bit of alcohol on the nose, which is surprising given it's age. Most of their wines drink very well young, but this one just didn't seem to come together.
On the nose, nice spice hints that I attribute to the syrah, along with some plum and pepper. The cab strut it's stuff a bit with some blackberry, blueberry, and currants. There was a lot of oak on the nose as well. On the palate however, this wine left a bit to be desired. The oak dominated with a ton of vanilla coming through, and the the alcohol seemed to overwhelm the finish. All in all, this wine is not for the faint at heart, and I really don't see it getting any better with age. 82 points. Cheers! -F. Scott.
This wine was given to us by a friend who received it from the NY Times Wine Club. Nose gave up virtually nothing other than alcohol and subtle hints of plum and eucalyptus. The palate was nothing but cherry flavored, in the words of Chris Rock, "Tussin." There were some fruity elements, but it was pretty muh just a discombobulated mess. The finish had some bite, with some alcohol, and overall, it just was not a pleasant wine to me. 70 points, and I think that is being a point or two generous, but hey, at least this bottle is off of my wine inventory. One down, another 100 or so wines to thin out. This ain't Grange! Cheers!
With it being a beautiful 60 degree plus day, what better reason to get out of the office for a little while and head back to Columbus to put the Pete's-vs-Kate and Al's showdown to rest! Grabbed my hat, and headed over to Columbus, and it was a mob scene today! Actually had to sit through 3 stop lights to get into the parking lot, but thankfully, found a spot immediately as a car was pulling out.
Headed over toe Kate and Al's, and there was a bit of a line. At the time, all they had was plain cheese slices available, but this was actually good, as I tried a piece of plain at Pete's. Waited a few minutes, and got my two slices. Kate and Al's unfortunately does not have any seating, and the 3 tables near there where full, so I stood at the opposite end of their counter, in an area that they do not use to serve.
The first thing I noticed was that they were about the same size, but to me, the thing that was really obvious was the fact that the slices were much thinner, and more condensed. The first bite revealed a firmer, crunchier crust. I looked at the bottom, and it was cooked just right, with a nice golden color to it, but was definitely a bit thinner. It just didn't have that airiness to it that Pete's had.
As for the sauce and the cheese, I thought that the two were very similar, and they were both good. The sauces had a similar flavor in my opinion, and they use about the same amount of cheese. Flavor wise, I think it would be hard to pick who has the better sauce.
So to me, what it comes down to is the crust, and I thought that Pete's had the advantage. Being right here however, why not head over to Pete's and try another slice, just to make sure that my mind was made up.
Pete's too was packed, so I walked up and ordered at the counter. As I went to pay, a really nice lady at the end of the counter said that the slice was on her, and she said "Thanks for serving." What a nice gesture, so ma'am, if you are reading, thank you again! I guess that is the beauty of being in uniform, and I couldn't be any more thankful.
First bite revealed a thicker, less crunchy crust, that was very light. The sauce, again, very similar, with good cheese, etc. That said, against the opinions of most others, I have to say that I liked Pete's better because of the crust.
All in all, both make a good pie, and who knows, maybe the slices I was served from Kate and Al's were a bit overcooked compared to others. I don't know, but I stand by my palate, and I enjoyed Pete's the most. I'll definitely try slices from both in the future, and I look forward to it. It may not be Chicago style, and definitely isn't the original Pizzeria Uno in downtown Chicago, but it isn't bad for New Jersey! Cheers! –F. Scott
Welcome to F. Scott's Foodie and wine adventures in and around New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and more recetly Old Town Alexandria and the DC Metro! Stay tuned for reviews of the latest up and coming East Coast establishments, and up and coming wineries! Cheers!
Born in Illinois, I spent my younger years as a local Chicago Foodie checking out restaurants in the city, and working as a waiter at many of the finest restaurants in the suburbs of Chicago. Look for me visiting a restaurant near you, or at one of the many local wine offlines throughout New Jersey