Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

The George Inn, Vernon NJ

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Finding a place to eat in and around this part of New Jersey is not an easy thing to do. Surprisingly though, what the George Inn lacks in atmospheric dining experience, it made up for with tonight’s special dish.

Two things stand out to me about dining here. One was the decor/feeling of the dining room and the other was the menu choices.

The atmosphere leaves much to be desired albeit clean and well maintained, it seemed vast and cafeteria like. A large open dining area with very bright lighting, adds to the noise level while dining. Customers in brighter places tend to speak louder than those in intimate low lit rooms. The wood work and decorative Tiffany lamps would have provided more charm had there not been the additional overhead fluorescent lights. The well lit room also put on display, the sloppiness of the wait staff. Although our waitress was dressed and presented well, her co workers left much to be desired. Combinations of untucked shirts, large hoop earrings and chewing gum gave an unprofessional and mismanaged appearance. It seems to me that with some attention to details, (ie; remove the paper “diner” style place mats, neater staff etc..) this dining room, would be very warm and inviting.

The menu was both confusing and and yet very predictable. What I mean by this is that the style of dishes were all over the place and yet nothing that we wouldn’t expect to find in most diners. For example, you could order Mexican dishes, Nacho platter or Fajitas or your basic Parmigiana ( Chicken or Veal). At first glance and before looking at the menu, you would expect seafood and steaks to be the backbone of menu entree’s. Perhaps they are trying to cater to all different customers likes due to the lack of diversified restaurants in the area. The funny thing is that we ordered a special that was Grilled Pork chop with a Mushroom Risotto in a Demi Glaze with medley of vegetables, which was exactly the type of dish that I expected to see throughout the menu. And by the way, the dish was delicious and the Pork Chop was prepared perfectly. If not for that dish, I would not have been able to choose an item for dinner. Too many restaurants have “diner” menus where they try to be everything but their dishes tend to be just ordinary. Very rarely do you find a place that serves so many different styles of food that is exceptionally prepared and different. Have we not seen enough of Chicken Parmigiana, Buffalo wings and Potato skins?

Back to the Pork Chop dinner: The chop was grilled perfectly and the Risotto was creamy, cheesy and fantastic. The portion size was more than adequate and I left satisfied and full. After eating this, I couldn’t help wonder why they choose not to explore this style of cooking though out the menu. Do away with the ordinary and make a statement with dishes such as this. Perhaps because I was expecting more of a steak house menu was I disappointed. Maybe the Chef at the George Inn knows more about his clientele than I and thus the wide variety of normal everyday items. I will say this. If everything is prepared like my Pork Chop dinner, than they might be on to something.

Next time your skiing at Mountain Creek, be sure to dine at the George Inn and leave a comment on my site. I would be very interested in your opinion.

The Regular Guy rating  * * *

The George Inn

84 STATE RT94

SOUTH VERNON, NJ 0746

973-827-5758

www.georgeinn1872.com/index.html

It sucks! Now go away

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Does every waiter have to ask how everything is less than five minutes after they serve you? Do they not eat out themselves? Can they at least watch you to see if your mouth is full BEFORE they ask you?

Look, all you need to do is walk by me once in awhile and if I need something, or “the food sucks”, I will get your attention. Is the food so bad in these places that waitresses have to ask you how everything is? Shouldn’t it just be fine? After all, it is what we expect when we eat out. I don’t go out thinking “hit or miss, I hope this food’s good”. And one more thing. Tell me your name. That’s not reserved for costly restaurants. That way when you disappear, I can ask the next waiter to find you, just in case “it sucks”.

Just one man’s opinion

The Regular Guy

Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ (Part II)

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Back in April of 2010 I reviewed this restaurant and as I have come to understand, Spiaggia is now celebrating their 2nd Anniversary, which seems to be a good reason to revisit one of my favorite places.

Consistency of food  is perhaps the hardest thing to achieve and maintain in a restaurant. More times than not I have dined out and had a great experience on my first visit only to return another time to be disappointed. Over the last two years, I have eaten here at least a dozen times between both the pizza side and the restaurant side.  My first three visits to Spiaggia and the restaurant side, were consistently great but it seems that since that first year, portion sizes have gotten smaller, prices have risen and the once flavorful dishes have now become just so-so.

My favorite dish has always been Fra Diavolo Festa because I love the combination of seafood in a hot and spicy tomato sauce. Originally this was the reason that I returned time and time again and on this visit it would be my test dish to see if things are still great here at Spiaggia. What I found was that the portion of pasta below the medley of seafood is no longer too much to finish and the spicy sauce is just slightly above marinara on the tomato scale. What once was a wonderful  experience is now just an average dish, one that you might find in a pizzeria restaurant. I will say that I asked to sub shrimp for the scallops and I did have enough shrimp to satisfy. What is lacking is the spicy zip that you should taste in every bite from the Fra Diavolo sauce. It seems to me that the sauce is nothing more than Marinara with some crushed red pepper.  Not the dish that kept me coming back for more.

My wife ordered the Spiaggia Land and Sea( Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail) and for $30 you should be wowed in a every bite. Served with white rice, she asked if they would sub the vegetable risotto that came with another dish in its place. This was a good move because the risotto was creamy and cheesy and helped to make the meal better than its white rice counter part might have. The filet was just like you would make on your outdoor grill and the lobster tail was just broiled and served.

The thing that seems to be missing here is the little something extra that puts some restaurants over the top while others are just okay.  A case in point could be made for the house salad. The greens are served chilled and the house dressing used to be one that made you want seconds. The homemade Lemon vinaigrette wasn’t as tangy, lemony and tasty as it used to be. Something has changed here, whether it is the chef or the recipes due to higher costs and/or different quality of ingredients.  Okay dinners are fine if you are in a pizzeria and the pricing reflects that. But with the prices of appetizers averaging around $12 each and entree prices average or higher than neighboring establishments, you expect the WOW factor every time. Someone at Spiaggia isn’t paying attention to details like they used to when they first opened. The portion size, seasoning and finishing touches that make the difference and were once noticeable, are now missing.

Two years in, one great year and now one good year. Not the way to be heading especially when people are in a struggling economy and they are cautious where they will be spending their hard earned dollars.

Regular Guy rating * * *

Spiaggia e Luna

696 E Bay Ave

Barnegat NJ

609-660-2000

Marchioni’s Pizza and Pasta

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

One in awhile you don’t want to cook but you do want to eat so the first things that come to mind are pizza places or Chinese food.  Maybe a plate of macaroni and a salad would be just right.

I have been to Marchioni’s a total of three times. My wife likes the Pasta Gabriella dish so she thought it would be perfect for this night. After returning from a long trip, eating out always seems to be the best idea and Marchioni’s is close to our home, so it was a good fit.

We were told by the counter help to seat ourselves so we picked a booth in the back corner. I like this booth, maybe because we always sit in it or maybe because its away from the rest of the tables. Kind of private.

Our waitress was familiar to us because she also waited on us the two previous times. Shes always pleasant and extremely attentive so we were glad to see her. Ordering was easy because we already knew what we wanted before we sat down. After placing our order we were served garlic knots that were very warm and freshly made. Soon after our Spinach salad arrived and so began the uncomfortable part of the dinner.

I am not sure who this person is but I sensed he might have been a cook or the owner himself. Either way he was dressed inappropriately for a person handling/ serving or just being around food. Dressed in gym shorts and a loose fitting baggy t shirt he promptly began greeting familiar faces loudly and intrusively. It wasn’t at this point that we felt uncomfortable but it was annoying.

Soon after, as our entree arrived, he returned once more to the dining room,this time to sit and dine at the table closest to us. During the time he was eating he was also shouting across the room at two other customers, details about his Mothers day business, his wife and other things. Somewhere in the middle of our dinner and the shouting my wife and I discussed how rude and ridiculous he was to be doing this in a restaurant while people were dining. I couldn’t help but to finally excuse myself and ask him if he could stop because we had come to this place not just to eat but also spend a quiet evening talking about our past trip. I will say in all fairness to this man, he was apologetic and he moved his seat closer to other patrons with whom he was speaking. As uncomfortable as it was to speak out, I hope that he realized some customers would really enjoy dining in a quiet atmosphere.

As for the pasta Gabriella, it seemed to be slightly less flavorful then we recalled from the last visits. This dish consists or bow tie pasta, grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes in a cream sauce similar to Alfredo. Two things I thought would have made this dish better, the sauce seasoning and fresh grilled chicken. The sauce needed more flavor, a pinch of nutmeg, a little cheese and maybe some zip from pepper. The chicken was overdone, probably because it was cooked earlier and then added to the pasta. Also it would be better served to slice the chicken thinner and smaller so it fills the dish better and is easier to eat. The chicken shouldn’t be bigger than the macaroni. If it is you cant get it all on the fork in the same bite.

The amount of food served was more than enough for both of us and we also had enough to take home leftover pasta.

All things considered, I can’t say I was very happy but the way the gentleman handled my request, I can say that I would give Marchioni’s another chance.

Regular Guy rating –* * 1/2  –  * * *

Marchioni’s Pizza and Pasta

912 West Bay Avenue

# 140 Barnegat, NJ 08005-1290

(609) 660-2424

 

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria, Marlton NJ

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Sometimes your GPS can find places to eat that you would never try, let alone find, in an unfamiliar part of town. While driving back from Florida, at night, and in rain, our GPS found Pietro’s.

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria is a free standing building off the side of Rte 70 and (under construction) at night, is not an easy place to find but once inside, you will be happy you did.

Pietro’s atmosphere appears like one might think a sports bar in Tuscany Italy would.  The decor is rich in Italian countryside style with television’s lining the bar area, NFL games abound. Dim lighting, high open ceilings and grape vines with brick and tile warm the dining area nicely.

Pietro’s signature item is its Coal Oven Pizza’s and we were eager to find out just how good they are. The menu is very creative and the listing of pizza varieties are endless and hard to decide which type to sample, but we moved on and ordered a salad and pizza.

The Insalata Mozzarella Fresca salad looked to be just the ticket to start our meal. Cold dishes ( which always impresses me)  and a family style bowl were placed in front of us. The salad greens were very fresh and the dressing was nice but the Mozzarella amount was far too little for a salad with Mozzarella in its name.

The Barese pizza boasted a special roasted sausage, hot pesto, tomato, basil, and mozzarella combination. We added red pepper flakes prior to baking so to add some zing to our pie. The pizza was very, very good and I ate more than I should have in one sitting even knowing that I had miles to drive ahead of me. Adding the red pepper turned it up a notch and even with the hot pesto, it was fine.

Prices are a little high on average but expected as nothing is skimped upon from the decor to the menus.All in all, our dining experience was a good one and I would be glad to stop by there again when passing through Marlton in the future.

Regular Guy rating   * * * 1/2

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria

140 west route 70

Marlton, NJ 08053

856 596 5500

www.pietrospizza.com

Spiaggia e Luna, Barnegat NJ

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Bring a bottle of wine and make your choice. Spiaggia is two restaurants in one. Feel like having brick oven pizza or Chilean Sea Bass. I have visited Spiaggia a half a dozen times now and whether I choose to dine on pizza or some of their gourmet dishes, I always leave satisfied.

On the one side you can enjoy a full menu with some well known and some of Spiaggia’s own signature dishes, all with an Italian flair. Start your dinner with the Scallop appetizer and you won’t be disappointed. Follow that with the dinner salad and fresh house dressing, which is very light and tasty. There are too many choices for an entree to pick a favorite but I have had the Linguini with Clams, Shrimp and Scallops in a Fra Diavolo sauce, twice. The sauce is veerrryyy good and nice and spicy.

Side two of this restaurant features the same menu as side one, but also Brick Oven Pizza. The atmosphere is the complete opposite so be prepared for a somewhat noisy experience. Sometimes in fact it can be a little too much as some employees “hang out ” there while not working which interferes with the servers attention span. The noise is created from the staff itself, who tend to yell things to each other from across the dining room. Its okay if you don’t mind hearing all about the staffs lives and what they have been doing of late but otherwise I feel it should be controlled. After all, it is a business and should be more professionally run. Other than that, I have to say that the Pizza is delicious. There are examples of different pies on the menu but I always like to make up new ones each time. We tried Grilled Chicken, Spinach and fresh Tomato with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper baked into the pie. It was zingy hot, crispy and good but we didn’t realize it wouldn’t have Tomato sauce under the toppings which tended to make it dry. No problem though, because we asked for a side dish of sauce to add to the pizza.

All in all, Spiaggia rarely disappoints and often surprises me with their consistently flavorful dishes. Spiaggias prices are somewhat average to high, mostly because of the cost of the appetizers. Entrees on the other hand seem to be more moderately priced. As of now, Spiaggia is still a bring your own bottle which helps offset the cost of a night out.Call ahead for reservations as they are very busy, especially weekends between 6pm -9pm.

Regular Guy rating * * * 1/2

Spiaggia e Luna

696 E Bay Ave

Barnegat NJ

609-660-2000

Caps, Jensen Beach Fl

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Every neighborhood has a local watering hole with good eats. Jensen Beach is no different when you find yourself at Caps.

If you’re looking for a cold beer and a well prepared, tasty and affordable meal in a relaxed and  comfortable setting, this place is where you want to be. Being within walking distance for many of its patrons, it is easy to understand why most of my neighbors visit Caps on a regular basis. You can tell right away that the owner and his clientele know each other well from the banter back and forth between them. It is always great to have a place where you can go and feel like its yours. In a sense, its like being Norm in Cheers. You get that from Paul, the co-owner, bartender, waiter and busboy all mixed into one.

Tonight we dined on pizza, which although quite simple in ingredients, can always be a difficult thing to make well. Surprisingly, the pizza was terrific. With a very crispy crust, tasty sauce and an abundance of toppings, this pie satisfied my craving quite well. Coupled with cold draft beers and friendly service, it made for an enjoyable evening out with our friends.

Items on Caps menu range from Thai Calamari to Mahi Reuben’s, and I understand that their Burgers are very good too. There are enough interesting choices on the menu to make me want to return for a second go ’round. I am definitely looking forward to trying a burger!

The Regular Guy Rating * * *1/2

Caps

10999 S Ocean Dr

Jensen Beach Fl

772-229-3287