That's right. Not too long ago, I (GASP!) moved from the Big Apple to the Big New Apple, aka the new New York aka New Brunswick, NJ. I wish I could use this blog as a platform to rant, complain and tear New Brunny to shreds but to be honest, it really has been smooth (culinary) sailing.
Friday nights in the new New York typically include a bottle of wine post-work and the all motivations are lost while renting bad movies on the couch. Well, this past Friday, a surge of energy propelled us into Due Mari, a terrific Michael White-owned gem on the next corner. After flirting with the restaurant for the past two months (essentially doing a pop-in only to find no available seats at the bar or tables until 10 pm), we finally made the crucial ressie and entered the space with the confidence that we'd leave happy.
The space itself is traditional with its white table clothes and muted colors but the bar and the energy is truly contemporary. The circular bar sprawls across the entire cross section of the restaurant and is packed to the gills with diners craving the latest hand-crafted pasta dish. BFOLED (bf of le disher) and I were led to charming table, passing some old 50-something diehards and some exotic-looking 30-somethings. As much as I'm trying to lay off the carbs, I couldn't resist the foccacia being laid out as a peace offering from the server. From that point forward, I was in Michael White heaven.
Our server was beyond knowledgeable and made the experience very farm to table - he knew exactly where everything was sourced. I started with the grilled octopus salad that combined the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth octopus with red peppers, olives, radicchio, and ceci beans. It was the perfect light starter to what was about to be unveiled. BFOLED's Caesar salad was truly unmemorable - this is a seafood place, people!!
Ready for the main event? Just thinking about it makes me want to go back and experience it all over again. Knowing Michael White as Poseidon, King of the Sea, I went straight for jugular: the "Pesce" section of the menu. I settled on the Chatham cod: pan-seared and served atop of cushion-y bed of eggplant, cremini mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts and tiny cipollini onions. Not only was the fish one of the freshest filets I've ever laid taste buds on, but it married wonderfully with the fall veggies.
Of course, Michael White is not only a god of the sea but he also is a pasta-making god as well. Being the true carb-lover that he is, BFOLED chose the pasta special: a pappardelle laden with pork ragu. The long, wide ribbons of tender pasta were coated to perfection with the rich, hearty stew-like ragu. Let's just say my fork made its way across the table more than once.
Now that we've been introduced to Michael White in the new New York, I'm already looking forward to returning. Again. And again. And again.
You'd like it here.