The Dinner Mix

Les Piétons
8, rue des Lombards
75004 Paris

Téléphone: 01 48 87 82 87

This religious kitsch tapas bar serves up good food and fun.  Whether it’s an ornate cross hanging on the wall or a glass of Sangria in your hand, this place is cool.

During my last month-long visit to Paris I stayed in Le Marais, the 4th arrondissement.  I was always a left-banker but La Rive Droite was working well for me this time.  The sights, shopping, local merchants, people and food are all fabulous.  A largely Gay and Jewish quarter, the Marais is a must-visit.

When you walk into Les Piétons, there is a long bar on the right, you are immediately surrounded by gaudy religious objets d’art and you will be quickly greeted by a friendly server.

Try the Formule Midi.  You can choose 3 tapas and a dessert, or an entrée and theplat du jour (usually Paella) or a plat and a dessert – all for 13,50 euros – and don’t forget the Sangria!

Les Plats de La Semaine change daily and for 11,00 euros , you’re getting good food at a good price.

So when you’re in Paris visit Les Piétons, take in the sights, the people and the food.  Enjoy because isn’t that what life is all about?  Or should be all about.  Americans need to take lessons from the Europeans.

Relax.  Sit down and take a load off.  Sip Champagne, drink a Blanche or knock back some café and enjoy the moment.  Santé!

The Avenue
23 Ocean Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740

732-759-2900

http://www.leclubavenue.com/

If you’re ever at the Jersey Shore, you must visit Pier Village.  It’s a small paradise on the Atlantic with shops, restaurants and clubs.  It’s a fun place for all.

One of my favorite restaurants there is The Avenue.  It’s an upscale French / American brasserie type eatery that will not disappoint and Le Club upstairs is a super place to just chill with your friends.

Stop by for Happy Hour and enjoy a martini or specialty drink – 1/2 price from 3 to 7 and on Friday until closing.  The oysters are fresh and delicious and a must have at the bar.  If you’re going for a snack try Le Petit Plateau but don’t expect to be hungry after that.  It’s a seafood feast for the picker and the drinker alike.

If you’re staying for dinner try their Prix Fixe Menu or any one of their succulent dishes.  I suggest theEscargot or Macaroni Gratin to start.  The Braised Short Ribs are melt in your mouth wonders that will titillate your taste buds.

You can’t go wrong with Le Steak FritesNY Strip Au Poivre or Moules Frites and don’t forget to try the Brussels Sprouts.

The Avenue is a taste experience to savor, but if you just go for cocktails, you’ll be hooked.  Located on the beach you can sit at their magnificent bar (check out the Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle up top) or enjoy a view of the ocean dehors.

Either way, I think the Avenue is a must-try.  Bon Appétit!

Craig’s
292 Princeton Avenue
Brick, NJ 08724
732-295-7929

If you’re down the shore – the Jersey Shore – there’s no better local place than Craig’s.

The food is very good and very eclectic.  You can order anything from a sandwich to a burger to a full prix fixe meal.  It’s open late and you can sit in the dining room or in the bar at any hour.

Craig’s daily specials are delicious.  Just about anything you order will be scrumptious:  the pastas, the steaks, the fish.  If you’re in the mood for a burger try their Peter Luger Burger smothered in onions, Peter Luger steak sauce and cheese.  The Jersey Shore Burger is a must try, complete with pork roll (Taylor Ham if you’re from North Jersey) to make you feel like a local.  The soups are also great.  I like the Shrimp Bisque or Potato Soup.

I’ve never had a disappointing meal there and I’ve been a patron for years.

So next time you’re in my neck of the woods, stop at Craig’s for a casual yet satisfying meal.  Whether it’s for lunch or dinner or the Sunday Country Breakfast, give it a whirl and enjoy.

Angelina’s Ristorante
399 Ellis Street
Staten Island, NY 10307
718-227-2900

http://www.angelinasristorante.com/

When my husband told me that he was taking me out for my birthday, I thought he was going to take me to a French restaurant in Montclair that I was dying to go to.  I was wrong.

A while back we heard about an Italian restaurant called Angelina’s in Staten Island on Brindiamo, Ornella Fado’s restaurant review show.  We fell in love with the atmosphere immediately and Angelina’s became my birthday surprise.

Staten Island is really close to the Jersey Shore.  It took us no time to get there.  At first you think that the ever reliable GPS (cough, cough) is taking you into a creepy industrial area that can’t possibly be the right place, but as you continue down the long, dark road, you discover Angelina’s Ristorante at the very end of the street.

First we were greeted by its super friendly valet parkers who were, let’s say, really cute and personable.  We walked up the stairs and confirmed our reservation for 9:00 then made our way over to a packed bar.  The staff was very accommodating and moved their bar station over so we would have room to stand comfortably.  We ordered two 007s and started looking around.

The bartenders were friendly and genuine even though they were extremely busy.  The clientele was one that I prefer:  slightly mature, Italian, ladies dressed to the nines and upscale.  I felt at home.  WE felt at home.

After polishing off five 007s we were led up to the third floor and seated at our table.  The waiter came over immediately and place napkins in our laps and asked for our drink order.  We requested a wine list and ordered a Francis Coppola’s Director’s Cut Pinot Noir.

When our server came back with an aerator and an aerating carafe I thought I’d died and gone to wine Heaven.  Not only did he aerate and decant the wine but her aerated the sample pour as well!  It was titillating.

With an array on breads placed on the table, some eggplant caponata and a teaser wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano we were ready for a flavor explosion.  I ordered the pasta special as an appetizer:  Garganelli with shrimp, exotic mushrooms, peas and truffle oil.  The flavors were so complex and interesting I savored every bite.  John ordered the Baked Clam Oregonata and the super spicy hot stuffed banana peppers that I must say were delicious.

As a main course I had the bone-in Filet Mignon special with a red wine reduction that rivaled any filet I had ever tasted.  My husband ordered Bistecca alla Siciliana which was lightly coated in bread crumbs oregonata and olive oil, green olives and peperoncini.  This was delightful too and though stuffed, we ordered dessert.

A double espresso and a red velvet cupcake for me.  Coffee and fried banana cheesecake for John.  The cheesecake rocked but the cupcake fell short of my expectations.  It was good but a little dry.  I would definitely order the cheesecake again.

Music was playing from below as we walked down the stairs to head back to Jersey.  The place was still packed and the parking lot, complete with a white Rolls, was jammed as well.  The experience we had at Angelina’s was a wonderful taste orgy for both the mouth and brain.  The food was fabulous and the service impeccable.  The family-runned atmosphere was refreshing and noticeable.

It’s too bad that Angelina’s is not around the corner because I’d be there every night – well, maybe that’s a good thing.  In any case Angelina’s Ristorante gets my vote for food, service and atmosphere.  Try it out.  You won’t regret it.

Due Amici
420 Higgins Avenue
Brielle, New Jersey 08730
732-528-0666

http://www.dueamicibriellenj.com/

This is not your ordinary restaurant or an ordinary restaurant review.  This is the place that I like to call home.  The food is great.  The service is great.  The people are great.  Can you ask for anything more?

The first time I went to Due Amici was a few years ago when it was our friends’ turn to pick a restaurant for dinner.  When Terry & Al said we were going out for Italian, John and I were more than skeptical.  I make Italian food, grew up eating Italian food and consider myself an Italian food snob among other things.

After a few bites of my appetizer I knew that I was in love and kept going back again and again until I became a “regular” around the bar on Higgins Avenue.  It’s a great place for dinner or drinks and apps.  There’s even a Friday night  jam complete with music and dancing.  You have to check it out if you live locally or you are visiting the area.

Some of my favorite off the menu items are:

  • Hot Antipasto for Two:  a traditional hot antipasto with a taste of all your favorites
  • Pasta Fagioli:  garlicky and delicious
  • Seafood Salad:  an array of shrimp, calamari & scungilli in a lovely Italian vinaigrette
  • Sautéed Broccoli Rabe: need I say more?
  • Tortellini Bolognese:  my personal comfort food – delicious
  • Capellini Boscomare:  angel hair with shrimp, arugula, shiitake mushrooms and plum tomatoes
  • Chicken Pepadew:  with pepadew peppers, long-stemmed artichokes, white beans, asparagus in a white wine reduction
  • Veal Chop or Steak Arrabbiata:  Try this spicy wonder with an oreganata crust.

The specials are delicious.  I love their chicken special with portobello mushrooms, sliced sausage in a Madeira reduction sauce served over broccoli rabe.  Due Amici’s cannelloni is a comfort food must taste and the stacked polenta appetizer special is amazing.  The seafood tower with lobster, shrimp, crab and oyster and clams on the half shell is perfect way to start off your dinner.

I dropped in the other day and had a pasta special with linguine, scallops, shrimp and chunks of crabmeat in a Pici-Paci sauce which to my surprise, was very light, not at all heavy.  I can’t wait until they have it again so I can order it.

So take a ride to Brielle New Jersey, sit at the granite bar or at a cozy table, maybe even by the fireplace, order a glass of Pinot Noir or Pinot Grigio and get ready to enjoy a great Italian meal at a great family owned restaurant.  Buon Appetito!

© 2010 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

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3 responses to “The Dinner Mix

  1. I feel like hopping on a plane to Paris right now, but maybe it’s because I’m having Grey Goose for dinner. Dammit, I really need to get a passport.

  2. Jac’
    Send me your personal e-mail to
    my work …boy do I have something to send to you that you can post
    Laura

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