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Jan 1, 2013 08:47 AM

where to find the best osso buco in northern New Jersey

My dad will be turning 80 in January and just discovered osso buco. For this birthday, I would like to take him to northern NJ restaurant (with 20 miles of Clifton) for the best osso buco out there. Please recommend as I don't live locally.

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  1. Many Italian restaurants offer Osso Buco, so that won't be a problem for you. You should provide the type of dining or budget you have and if the party will be large in size for any special accommodations needed.

    I would also suggest you give whichever restaurant you choose to request it be made for you on the date you want to celebrate.....and reserve the number of portions needed.

    LuNello would be my first choice. Bellissimo second.

    I've heard good things about Dalto and Nicola's, but I have never been.

    12 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      fourunder being very familiar with your posts and respecting your opinion let me ask you a question on this topic.

      I have recently started seeing far more restaurants offering pork osso buco on their menu's. When or why did this start becoming so popular or is it just me late in noticing this change from the traditional veal to pork?

      1. re: jrvedivici

        Latin and Asian restaurant have been featuring Braised Pork Shanks for years....Chinese Restaurants in particular are famous for their Red Roast Pork Shank/Picnic Shoulder. German, and Polish restaurants have been featuring oven baked or braised versions as well.

        When Maloney & Porcelli featured their Crackling Pork Shank (10+) years ago, people began to notice the cut as a potentially profitable menu item. They took a hind shank and slow braised in oil for hours, before finishing off in the oven to crisp the skin. The results were a piece meat and bone that was mammoth in size on the plate.,

        While I do enjoy a nice Veal Osso Buco. unless it is a top slice of at least two inches thick, with a bone with a good amount of marrow in it...the dish is often overcooked and disappointing. Many restaurants will only give you a small portion of one inch which essentially eliminates you of any chance of getting any significant amount of the prized marrow.....As such its a lot of money for a dish that ends up mediocre at best at even the finest restaurants.

        In general, Veal and Pork have far less gamey taste than Lamb. At wholesale, Veal Shanks can still run $6 per pound, Pork Shanks $2 and under, and Lamb Shanks $3+ per pound. Given the more neutral flavor of pork and the impressive presentation it can offer...the Pork Shank gives you a lot of bang for your buck...for both the restaurant and the customer.

        Today's Meat packing companies also offer a greater variety of products...raw or prepared fully cooked for restaurants to maximize their potential....e.g., shanks, short ribs and pot for chefs and commercial kitchens, it's very easy to put onto a menu board and just add some type of sauce to make a presumed daily special. There's no time or experience needed to perfect a recipe. With the low cost and convenience...and a product that is widely accepted, it makes sense to put it on the menu as it elevates the perception of command and talents of the chef and kitchen.

        With regards to the Pork Shank specific, there are two kinds, the foreshank and the hindshank.. The one you usually find on menus in the $18-25 are the smaller skinless foreshank. The ones you will find in a Chinese restaurant or at Maloney & Porcelli are the meatier hindsahank....which is the one I prefer for the moister meat and connective tissue.

        The Hindshank is readily available from the Butcher/Meatcounter at any Asian Market, It runs @ about $1/69/lb. For the Foreshank, I purchase them at the Restaurant Depot in Cryovac packaging from Leidy's. If I recall, the 4-Pack package is less than $12/unit, so that's a pretty cheap and satisfying meal.....most restaurants where you see pork shanks on the menu are using the a 600-800% markup is pretty good, when 400% is the norm. In the following links, the image with two shanks are of the Foreshank....the second image is of the Hindshank.

        Finally, I believe the reason why you have started to notice Pork more recently than Veal for shanks has to do with the high cost of veal and it's limited availability....compared to pork's low cost and unlimited availabily at reasonable pricing, both wholesale and retail.

        Finally #2....go for the hindshank, especially if you like more meat and the connective tissue. Crispy Skin is preferred, but the braised version can also be very good...a softer version of Pig Knuckles.

        Maloney & Porcelli Crackling Pork Shank

        1. re: fourunder

          Fourunder I knew when I directed a question to you that you would be courteous in responding but next time could I ask that you provide a little more detail and depth to your answer. (lol joking of course)

          It's been awhile since I've taken a look at veal prices so I didn't know they were up or high at this current time. As I said I just noticed a lot more restaurants are offering Pork Osso Bucco and I've tried it a few places and enjoyed it......just didn't know what was fueling it. I also agree a true Veal Osso Bucco cut has to be at least 2 inches to retain any decent marrow and sized portion of the meat once the slow cooking is completed.

          Thank you for the very informative response.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            If you're gonna stop by Dean fourunder's during office hours, you better bring a notepad and a couple pens.

            1. re: MGZ

              j & M,

              It's always nice to hear when I have garnered someone's it is greatly appreciated....and you are both too kind.

              this thread has inspired me to make Pork Osso Buco in the near future.....

              1. re: fourunder

                Uggggghhhh no make the real deal Veal......and then invite me and MGZ to enjoy it as your guests!! (Only if MGZ has a VODKA martini with me).

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  The best recipe I ever had...

                  Osso Buco seasoned, dusted in flour and seared
                  Concasse Tomatoes
                  Fine Sliced Scallions to garnish

                  Bake in the oven at 250 covered until done....3+ hours

                  You can boat motor the mirepoix and tomatoes if you like a smooth sauce.

                  Very simple.

                2. re: fourunder

                  hey fourunder - i've alwas valued your opinion, but you have hit a complete homerun wih this osso bucco commentary. THANK YOU! and I'm with you - i might have to make it, too. Will have to invite a whole bunch of people over, though. Sounds like a 2 PM Sunday afternoon dinner!!

                  1. re: jiffypop

                    he is the best. don't miss his post regarding prime rib he knows everything

                    1. re: angelo04

                      Jiffy & Angel,

                      I appreciate the thoughts......but you guys are killing me with your kindness....

              2. re: jrvedivici

                Beef shank comes out great with the right recipe and is pretty cheap - normally around $3/lb retail.

              3. re: fourunder

                Great Informative post. Just a FYI - Costco has some great looking Lamb Osso Bucco, roughly $10-$14 a package, I would estimate 2-3 lbs. The wife made some the other night, it was to die for, plus lamb is my favorite meat.