Friday, July 16, 2010

West Side Gravy - Collingswood, NJ

Any hard core foodie who knows Collingswood, NJ has either been to Blackbird or has Blackbird on their must try list!  Now they have another new restaurant to add, from famed Blackbird chef and owner Alex Capasso.  After hearing about Chef Capasso’s new venture, West Side Gravy in Collingswood, we had to check it out for ourselves, and we are glad that we did!

West Side Gravy is Chef Capasso’s newest triumph, taking comfort foods, and making them with his special flair, and once again he has hit a home run!  We visited West Side Gravy on Friday night, and we were not disappointed in the least.

Chef Capasso opened West Side Gravy right on the main drag in Collingswood, in the old Woolworth’s location.  From the outside, it looks like a little diner, and he kept it nice and simple.  When you walk in, you notice the large dining room, with green colored two tone walls, nice woodwork, and different retro paintings on the wall to look like tattoo’s.  Each painting brings in some sort of food element, and the one that stood out to me was the heart with the big strip of bacon coming across it.  You really have to see the restaurant for yourself to appreciate it.  The tables are retro with the silver borders and retro formica tops on them, and it definitely works.

Zelda and I were seated in the window, which was probably the old Woolworth’s display window once upon a time.  We had a great seat to people watch, and check out the hustle and bustle of downtown Collingswood.  From here, we could see the people lining up at both The Pop Shop, as well as The Tortilla Press, waiting in line to get some grub.  Little did these folks know that the best food on the Main drag was right here at West Side Gravy.

Our server Adam came over and had recognized us from Blackbird.  He gave us a brief history on West Side Gravy and Chef Capasso’s vision, and we find it awesome!  I grabbed a bottle of Stefania Eaglepoint Ranch syrah and the Riedel’s from the carrying case, and went to pop it open.  Unfortunately, I thought I grabbed an ’06, but it turned out to be an ’07.  Regardless, it was still delicious, as are all of Paul and Stefania’s wines, so I wasn’t disappointed in the least…with the exception that my stockpile of this wine in dwindling.  Guess I will have to shoot Paul an e-mail to see if they still have this wine in stock!

After reading some of the other reviews online, there were a few things that I absolutely had to try.  For appetizers tonight, Zelda ordered the West Side Gravy Fries with a pinot noir sauce on the side.  These were absolutely gorgeous, thin, home cut fries with the skin on them, deep fried to golden brown perfection, covered in a nice cheese, served with the gravy on the side.  Let me say that I am not a big fan of gravy, but this was absolutely ridiculous, to the point that I could drink it!  If there is a such thing as perfect gravy in my world, I just found it, and would love to have this on a good Italian Beef sandwich back home in Chicago.  It was phenomenal gravy, and would be killer on turkey as well.  Someday, when we host Thanksgiving at our home, I will go buy a gallon of this to serve to the family.  This was the first time ever I had been blown away by gravy.

For my app, I went for the Mozzarella Sticks, which were not sticks at all.  These were nice round slices of fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, breaded and fried golden brown.  Yet another appetizer that was delicious, served with a little tomato salad on the side, consisting of very fresh grape tomatoes and thinly sliced garlic.  The tomatoes were nice and cold, and had great flavors.  There was also a roasted tomato sauce on the side which was very nice as well, but I truly enjoyed it with the fresh sliced grape tomatoes on the side.  Like the fries, we really enjoyed this appetizer.

For dinner, Zelda went old school and ordered the fried chicken from the “Big Plates” portion of the menu.  This was some of the best homemade fried chicken you will anywhere, and reminded me of the fried chicken mom used to make the few times that she made it growing up.  It wasn’t overly breaded, and kept simple.  The chicken was free range, then dipped in buttermilk, and served with potato salad and cole slaw on the side.  This is comfort food at its finest, and perfectly seasoned.  I wouldn’t change a thing here, and he hit a homerun.

After reading our good friend tom246’s review, I had to try the sliders, and these definitely were not your typical sliders.  The trip came with a beef and cheddar slider, topped with bacon and fried onions.  This was a classic, and delicious!  The next slider in the trio was of roasted pork, topped with provolone cheese, and some sort of hot green pepper.  The flavors in this were amazing, from the nicely cooked pork, to the provolone, to the pepper that had some nice heat, the flavors just worked amazingly alongside each other, and I cannot wait to have this particular one again.  This wasn’t however my favorite, and for me, the pièce de résistance was the seared Ahi tuna with a cucumber slaw and Wasabi mayo.  The tuna was prepared and seasoned perfectly, the cucumber was cold and crisp, and the wasabi mayo really brought an awesome element to the dish.  This rocked, and was amazing.  I could have easily eaten another plate of these, but I had to save room for dessert!

For dessert, Zelda ordered a butterscotch pudding of sorts.  I forget exactly what it was, and what it was called, but it was heaven.  At first, I was a bit skeptical at the $7 price tag, but once I tasted it, I had no gripes whatsoever.  This was amazing, with good texture, and rich flavor.  I wish we would have had some nice port to drink alongside this.

For my dessert, I had to take tom246’s rec, and ordered the PB and J.  This came out, and was nice, thick sliced bread, buttered and grilled, with homemade peanut and cashew butter, with a mixed berry jam.  On the side was a nice salad of fresh figs with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.  This is definitely not your normal PB and J sammich!  The bread was amazing, and the filling in this sandwich just rocked!  It really reminded me of the fruit you would have in a nice cobbler, and was fresh, jammy, and just pure awesome!  Needless to say, I couldn’t finish the whole thing, and struggled to finish the first half.  That being said, I had it boxed up and took it home as there was no way I was going to let this go to waste.

All in all, what an awesome meal, and a lot of food.  The tab came to $52 and change, and was worth every penny.  As with Blackbird, Chef Capasso was out in the front of house talking to customers, and making sure everything was OK.  He spent a few minutes with us, and we told him how much we truly enjoyed everything.  As we left, we congratulated him on another winner, and wished him the best.

Long story short, I think we might be spending a lot more time in Collingswood in the future.  The menu here is rockin’, and there are so many things that I look forward to trying.  Some of those things include the West Side Mac N’ Cheese, cheese steak egg rolls, the chicken pot pie, and the steak frittes.  I could eat here every day for two weeks and never have the same thing twice.  And being BYO, does it get any better?  Kudos to Chef Capasso, and we look forward to our next visit!  Be sure to check out their menu below!  Cheers!  -F. Scott

Menu pictures borrowed from and compliments of Michelle C. at:  Thanks Michelle.

1 comment:

Michelle C. said...

Hi there. I was enjoying this review until I got to the pictures of West Side Gravy's menu and realized they looked oddly familiar. As in, they were mine, taken from my site without permission and without credit. In the future, if you plan to "borrow" anything from my blog, please give credit where credit is due. Thanks.