Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scalini Fedeli

So I'm in town for work in NJ, but I'm missing the corporate Christmas party. I'm the only one of us who doesn't work out of the home office here in Jersey, and the dinner is scheduled for next Thursday. So, coming to NJ, what do my bosses decide? They take me to dinner at Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ. It's the second time I've been there with them, and the first time the air conditioning worked...well, not that I'd know since it was 44 degrees tonight. No AC needed.

Let me try to accurately describe the experience. Okay, I can't, but I'll tell you what I ate, let you know the service is terrific, and that I'd definitely return. The menu is prix fixe, which means dinner is $52 a plate, no matter what you order. And order we did.

For starters, a basket of bread is delivered tableside with raisin, rye and Italian from which to choose. I asked for rye and Italian, my dining companions opted for the raisin with the Italian. They're also wine aficionados, something I'm not, so all I can say is the wine was "tinto" and they both liked it. They asked for "the best sub-$100 bottle you have." They were given a $55 bottle and no complaints.

I ordered a Tuscan white bean soup with prosciutto and a cheese whose name escapes me. It was delicious. The dinner is started off for all with a shrimp in a mild horseradish glaze (so mild it probably wasn't horseradish), then the appetizer. My companions ordered Risotto with mushrooms and petit peas from Provence with crispy zucchini and Spaghettini arrabiata with capers, black olives and minced Spanish anchovy in a spicy tomato sauce. I tasted the risotto, and not being a fan, was impressed with the full flavor.

The main course for all of was unanimous: Braised short ribs of beef with a cherry pepper and port wine glaze, fennel-apple puree and twice fried potatoes. The ribs were hardly ribs, as there were no bones on the plate and the beef was so juicy and tender that it practially fell apart on my fork. The fennel-apple puree underneath the ribs was the perfect hint of sweet and each of us had no trouble finishing off our portion.

A sorbet was served to cleanse the palate and prepare me for the apple tart with cinammon gelato drizzled with caramel. Although the apple was a little bitter for my taste, the flaky pastry crust was perfect.

Having been here before, I wasn't sure what to think going again. To be honest, I can't remember what I had last time I was at Scalini Fedeli, but I won't soon forget what I ordered tonight. Definitely three forks of three. Certo.

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