Due Mari Pesce e Vinoteca - New Brunswick
- Foody4life Dec 9, 2008 07:49 AM
Anyone been here yet and would like to post their opinions?
We were at Due Terra last week and had another great dinner. Thinking it's time we give their new place a try. Also, it's interesting that the Due group has taken over the Momo group's out of town properties. Is Princeton next on their list?!
I'm with you! After reading RGR's sparkling review of S85, I'm thinking that we might do a drink/app at the bar of Due Mari then mosy up to S85 for the prime beef! : )
Either way, both look good on paper although the (2) published reviews for DM are from the pro's that I least follow - CK at the S-L could give 3.5 stars to a sack of groceries and KC's ratings rarely seem to jive with her text in the NYT's!
We went last night!
The space is really nicely laid out, so even when the restaurant got full, we didn't feel crowded. We were also fortunate to be seated at an "end" table next to a floor to ceiling wall of wine (nice place to be!). It is rare when each of us say that every course was terrific for all 4 diners, but that was the case here.
For appetizers, J and I each had the mushroom bisque special soup. This was amazing as it was a creamy pureed soup with NO cream, but was rich and delicious. It was topped with a dollop of creme fraiche (I think) and drizzled with black truffle oil. P had the Rucola salad with Baby Arugula, Fuji Apples, Smoked Bacon, Fontina, Walnut Vinaigrette (with walnuts that were candied). This was outstanding and my husband finished what she didn't (she was saving room for dessert!). R had the Carpaccio, Seared Black Pepper Filet of Beef, Arugula, and Lemon. I've never seen such clean plates when we were done!
For entrees, I had the Robiola Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash in a brown butter and sage sauce. All of their pastas are homemade in house, and it was light as a feather. Robiola cheese is creamy/sily when warm like a goat cheese, and it was both rich and light (I had the leftovers for lunch today). R had the Sicilian Swordfish, which was rated highly in the Times review, and did not disappoint. It was actually rolled and stuffed with Pine Nuts, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers, and served over broccoli rabe--it was as good as the review said. The waitress told us that their fish was really fresh, and that definitely rang true with the swordfish. P had a special of lamb chops that she said was the best she's had (and my friend knows her lamb chops). R, not usually a big lamb fan, tasted them and also loved them. J had the short ribs special that he said was outstanding. At this point, I was so engrossed in my ravioli, I cannot remember how their dishes were prepared (although I recall that the lamb had pancetta). With the exception of my ravioli take home bag, all plates were cleared empty!
For dessert, I had the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with blackberry sauce, candied pistachios and lemon sorbetto. This was really smooth and refreshing after an amazing meal, and I really like the candied pistachios, which added a nice crunch to a smooth dish. Based on the glowing recommendation from the Times review, J had the Zucca, which is a butternut squash cake served with toasted pumpkin seeds and vanilla gelato--I know it was amazing as he said so and didn't offer to share it with the rest of us! R had his favorite sorbet in Passionfruit. P had the Tartaletta, which was a Dark Chocolate Cream Tart with Vanilla Crema with Chocolate Gelato. It tasted great, and had a marvelous presentation where the tart was on one side of a long rectangular plate, followed by a trail of the crema that led to the gelato. The boys had two double espressos each, and P and I had Tibetan Tiger tea (a wonderful tea with flavors of caramel, vanilla and cinnamon). They have a very interesting tea list, and now I am on the hunt to buy this tea!
During the meal, the boys drank soda and the girls each had one wine by the glass (a Sangiovese Merlot blend that was really nice). With tax and nice tip, it was $145 per couple.
The service was also outstanding. Our waitress was pleasant but not too eager, answered all of our questions, and was attentive without being overbearing or rushing. Our dinner was served at a near perfect pace. Water glasses were filled throughout the meal, and we were offered a choice of multigrain or ciabatta bread, which they served with an olive oil white bean puree. Oh, and they also offer an option not listed on the menu--you can order any of the pastas for the table as a 'mini course' between the app and entree, and they will split the pasta dish 2, 3 or 4 ways--since their pasta is homemade, that sounded like a nice way to incorporate them into the meal.
You can also eat at their beautiful round bar, which has a flat screen TV. I thought that would be a good option if you just want to go for a weeknight dinner and have only an entree. They do have valet parking on the Nielsen St. side of the restaurant for $8, but we parked around the corner in the Church St. deck for $4.50. The waitress indicated that they will have their next seasonal menu change later this month, so we're eager to go back and see what's next!
4 of us ate there last year - maybe in October or November...? We al were very pleased and thought food was nicely presented as well as very tasty. I had the robiola ravioli - and as someone else already said, it was indeed delicious. Wish I could recall what others ate... but know my husband loved his meal as well. We're going back tonight, but I'm very nervous as they didn't pick up the phone when I tried to make a reservation (and it's 5 pm, Friday) and their website which has been totally non-functional, remains so. Why? I hope tonight's second visit won't disappoint.
We had dinner here last night. Food for the most part was very good but the overall experience suffered from a bit of a three ring circus in the service dept.
J and I were seated around 7:15 in the mostly full dining room at a great table - a deuce in the window. We were dropped off at our table with no menus, empty glasses and a swirl of staff around us but no hits on our table for what seemed like ten mins.
Finally, waiter 1 (W1) the first of the evening's 8 attendants to our table stopped by to ask if this was our 1st time dining there? Yep, we're newbies here but we have dined multiple times at Due Terre and Nova Terra, so does that count? Nice try, but guess not, so I'll proceed to tell you how we do things here. OK, we'll play along. After the procedural discourse, W1 tells us we can now look at the drink menu and the light course menu (small bites to be served and enjoyed with your drinks) and presents them to us. After the menus were dropped, W1 was gone.
A few minutes later W2 arrives and introduces himself. He would be taking our drink orders. OK, I'll have a martini, J will have a mezzo vino and we'll have orders of the artichokes and mortedella to start please. Few minutes later, swirl of activity, R1 (runner 1) stops by to ask what type of water we'd like? Still please. Would you like lemons or limes? OK, limes. R1 leaves. Few minutes later delivers water. No citrus. OK will get.
W1 then stops back and drops off the dinner menus and proceeds to announce the evening's specials (we've now been at the table 30+ minutes & have not gotten beyond a glass of water). W1 leaves and W2 flies by, notices our empty table and says the drinks are on the way. B1 (breadboy) then stops by and drops off a slice of bread to compliment our water.
Few more minutes pass and W2 then reappears with the drink order and says he'll be right back to take our dinner order. We order apps of Caesar salad and Carpaccio then entrees of Salmon and Garganelli. Few minutes go by and R2 (runner 2) drops off our apps, small bites never arrived.
We asked to see W2, explain we missed the bites, he apologizes and retreats. A couple of minutes later M1 (manager 1) drops off the bites, apologies and says they're on the house. Apps and bites were enjoyed, plates were cleared, then M2 (manager 2) drops off the entrees with a who gets what inquiry.
Anyway, long story short, the circus continued thru dessert and coffee, till we paid the check and retreated for home.
We definitely caught them on an off night and will go back again to give them a second chance. The salmon and the tiramisu were both very good. The carpaccio and the gargenelli were both awesome!
I ate here last night, dined at the bar at about 6 pm. Before 6:30 they have half price pizzas, so I tried one of those, pepperoni, and it was very good. Very thin crust, sauce/cheese/toppings extending to the outer edges, and excellent quality of ingredients. For $5, it is a steal.
Then, after debating which of the delicious looking pasta's to try, I had the "Squid Ink Tagliolini, Scallops, Clams, Tomato, Toasted Bread Crumbs." I loved the use of the bread crumbs for texture, and all the remaining ingredients were excellent together. The sauce was great as well, I would compare it to a darker/less creamy vodka sauce, that was used sparingly and I would not change a thing.
Looking forward to returning here. The food was a delight and the atmosphere was very nice.
As fans of Michael White's cooking (been to Convivio, Alto and Marea in NYC), we decided to check out Due Mari, one of the two NJ restaurants where he is the executive chef and partner. It being a Monday evening and 9 p.m. (late for NJ), the place was fairly empty, so it was nice and quiet.
The foccaccia which arrived prompty was fabulous. It was accompanied by a very tasty white bean spread. We did request butter as well.
Mr. R. ordered a carafe of a Barbaresco.
To start, we skipped the sfizzi and the apps and decided to split an order of the Ragu Bianco Stuffed Agnolotti with Forest Mushrooms, Shallots, and Braised Greens. When it arrived, there was a surprise sitting alongside it. Our server, Marcus, told us that he'd overheard us trying to decided between the Agnolotti and the Garganelli with Parma Prociutto, Peas and White Truffle Butter Sauce. We had mentioned to him that we were huge fans of White's pastas, and when he told that to Due Mari's chef, he graciously gifted us with split portions of the Garganelli. Both of these pastas were as perfectly prepared and as luscious as the pastas we've had in White's NYC restaurants.
For the main course, we both chose the Grilled Mediterranean Branzino with Escarole, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, and Olive Vinaigrette. This was not quite as successful as the pastas but still a pretty good dish.
Mr. R. finished with gelati while I had the Genovese Peach Melba, which was fine but not rave-worthy.
We received excellent service from Marcus, who was personable, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable about the menu.
Photos of this meal can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
Thanks for the compliment, b. While we truly appreciated the chef's generosity, since that extra portion equalled what we were trying to avoid, i.e., each of us having a full pasta portion which would be too filling, we finished the agnolotti but only sampled the garganelli and took the rest home. We had it for lunch this afternoon, and even reheated, it was fabulous. We'll definitely be back!
RGR - Thanks for bringing this thread back and great report. I should have posted a follow up to my 3/28/09 post above. Our initial service experience was no where to be found on a subsequent follow up dinner. We had a great evening, excellent service and another wonderful dinner. I again ordered the Garganelli as well and we look forward to return visits.
seal and Angelina, I'm flattered by your compliments! :)
seal, I was wondering how the pizza is and was thinking of going there for lunch one day to try it, so tyvm for saving me!
Angelina: You and I feel exactly the same about the run-of-the mill Italian restaurants that cover the landscape around here. Ugh! But the food at Due Mari is definitely a cut way above. Plus, it has sophisticated ambiance. Do try it! I'm sure you'll like it.
thanks to this board, I chose this restaurant for dinner saturday night for 4. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Favorites of the apps - grilled octopus (wish the serving was bigger). Fried calamari & warm seafood salad were very good too. 3 out of 4 of us had pasta for our main - out of this world. My dad had the skate which he liked very much and I've never heard him ask me to try his veggies - he was raving. I was so pleased.
I will say that we did experience the 2 waiter conundrum. I didn't like that, especially since it was clear the less experienced waiter "helped" me choose the wine. A third man as well as one of our waiters asked if they could replace a drink several times - that was disruptive. Who was that third person, roving bartender? I don't think our party derived too much new info from the "first time here spiel" - too long, too basic. Boil it down to get the pastas. Oh, and please tell us the price of the specials.
Those are minor gripes, the food was excellent, we will definitely be back. And finally, thank you for allowing us to enjoy our meal and post-meal drinks in peace without getting the bum rush. Very pleasant atmosphere. Cannot wait to go back!