Friday, November 6, 2009

Three New Restaurants to Challenge Your Appetite

By Millicent K. Brody

Supper at Ana Beall’s Tea Room in Westfield

Nancy Baker, proprietor of Ana Beall’s Tea Room in Westfield, recently announced that on Friday, the 13th of November, the Tea Room will be open for supper. Be one of the first lucky guests to come and enjoy appetizers of Louisiana crab cakes with sweet corn relish and red pepper remoulade, chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo on a bed of aromatic Carolina white rice, and hush puppies with a spicy-sweet orange dipping sauce. Entree specialties include chili-lime spice-rubbed hanger steak with fresh melon salsa, pan-fried catfish with red pepper remoulade, crab and asparagus shortcakes with tasso gravy, and a vegetarian trio. For dessert, try the banana bread pudding with chai chocolate sauce.

The tea room is open for breakfast, lunch, tea, weekend brunch, and now for supper. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thurs., 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Available for showers and special occasions. Ana Beall’s Tea Room, 415 Westfield Ave., Westfield. Call for reservations: 908.264.4221.

Drewby’s Raritan is Where You Want to Be
Drewby's Grill Pub, located at 16 S. Main Street in Manville, celebrated its 5th Anniversary in early October. Folks stop by for steaks, seafood, thin-crust pizza, fresh pasta, and their fabulous raw bar.

Happily, Drewby's owner Bill MacKenzie opened his second eatery, Drewby’s Raritan, on November 4. The menu boasts tapas, grilled steaks, seafood, and his special fresh pasta.

For starters, come by and check out the tapas menu, which includes duck confit and white beans, buffalo turkey wings, and grilled chorizo. Entrees include beef short ribs, New York strip steak, hangar steak, and seafood. Desserts are prepared by house pastry chef Jackie B. Just for the record, Bill loves her apple crumb cheese cake.

Priding himself on dealing with local purveyors, MacKenzie’s produce arrives from local farms.

BYOB and come on down. Drewby’s Raritan is located at 18 West Somerset St., Raritan. Hours: 5:30 p.m. to closing Tuesday to Saturday. Sunday brunch starts November 16th at 10 a.m. Casual dress. Party room available for 25 to 30 people. Call for reservations: 908.725.2500.

Mangia Ristorante Opens in Somerville
Imagine my surprise when I drove by N. Gaston Ave., in Somerville and noticed a new sign at the former location of La Scala. It's now owned and operated by Paul Pankuch; manning the kitchen is Chef Raul, who trained under Chef Omar Aly.

Heading the menu is a 20 oz rib eye topped with exotic mushrooms, finished with Dijon brandy cream sauce and black truffle essence. Resembling veal shanks, turkey osso buco is prepared with all of your favorite ingredients. Salmon lovers will appreciate a filet of wild salmon served with fresh leaks, tomato, basil, and capers in white wine.

“All of our dishes are prepared fresh daily,” says Pankuch who served as head waiter and general manager of La Scala for many years. “Folks look forward to dessert. Along with our pastry, we make our own gelato and sorbet.”

With two distinct dining rooms, come casual and enjoy dinner with the kids on the first floor, or head upstairs for a more formal meal. Hours: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday. 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Call for reservations and information. 908.218.9300. Mangia Ristorante, 117 N. Gaston Ave. Somerville.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

‘Wining’ not ‘Whining’

You know, I’d been thinking that there just aren’t enough opportunities for me to combine my love of a nice wine with my desire to help homeless animals (no, really, I was actually thinking that), when lo and behold, two such events come to my attention. Kismet? Serendipity? Whatever it is, it’s nice to be able to try a few good reds and whites while helping out animals in need.

The lineup:
First up is the Wine Tasting for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, scheduled for Friday, November 6 at the Morris Museum. A $45 ticket gets you samplings of more than 100 wines from around the world, hors d’oeuvres provided by area restaurants, and access to the museum’s exhibits, which currently include Invitations to a Wedding: Bridal Gowns from the 1820s to the Present; Horseplay: A History of Equestrian Sports in New Jersey; and Sculpture by Sassona Norton and from the Collection of the Morris Museum. Tickets can be purchased online at or at Main Street Wine Cellar at 300 Main Street in Madison.

Up next is All Star Pet Rescue’s First Annual Wine Tasting on November 20. Swing by the Salt Creek Grille in Rumson to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a Tricky Tray raffle, and entertainment. All Star is currently accepting donations for the Tricky Tray. For more information, e-mail or visit

This economy is hitting everyone hard, but animal shelters have been having a particularly difficult time of it—funding and donations are down, and more pets than ever are being handed over. So why not spend an evening living it up and helping out? It’s a decision you’re very unlikely to regret.

Pictured: Frankie, Noodles, and Panther, three dogs available for adoption through All Star Pet Rescue

Fashion News: Betsey Johnson Given Lifetime Award

By Liz Donovan

Tastefully outlandish designer Betsey Johnson was awarded the 2009 Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Fashion by the National Arts Club in Manhattan. The award was given at a black-tie presentation last month, which drew a large crowd of fashion editors and insiders, and even Betsey’s childhood dance instructor (possibly the same woman who taught the 67-year-old designer how to nail that famous runway cartwheel). “I’m so excited, honored, and thrilled,” said Betsey. “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Congratulations, Betsey!

Associate editor Liz Donovan with designer Betsey Johnson. Dress by Mill Crest Vintage in Lambertville.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Star Wars & Wine

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Last Friday I was scheduled as a guest for a live television segment on the TODAY show. This is not unusual as far as my job goes, but this day was a little different, to say the least. I anticipated the usual educational segment with a splash of fun. We had spent weeks putting together a great spot on cocktails, complete with the bubbly pumpkin cauldron that would be perfect for your Halloween bash. However, when I arrived in the make- up department and was greeted by a sea of storm troopers I almost fainted. If that wasn’t wild enough, there were endless numbers of Ewoks just nonchalantly jumping around. Matt Lauer was Luke Skywalker--who actually resembled Owen Wilson; Hoda was Yoda; and Kathie Lee was C3PO.

If you’re a fan of the TODAY show you know the Halloween bash is one of the biggest shows they put on all year long. Months of planning, secret meetings, and swearing on your life goes into the big reveal of the theme and costumes. This year Lucas films was kind enough to lend the original costumes and parts of the sets from the Star Wars trilogy to help transform studio 1A into a galaxy far, far away. With all of the extras and their handlers (people there to make sure the costumes and characters were kept intact), the additional hair and make-up crew, props, and special effects it was exactly like working on a movie set. Which thrilled me, as that was on my life’s to-do list. Even better was my brush with the real deal Wookiee! Chewbacca assisted as I worked with Yoda and C3PO to give a Halloween cocktail segment real star power. Bearing in mind the costume restrictions of Yoda Hoda- whose hands were transformed to only three fingers--and Kathie Lee, who couldn’t lift her arms in her glamorous gilded armor, we unbelievably made our way through the entire table of treats…except the wine. I’ve mentioned some of the others recently so I’ll only share with you the last sip that got skipped, so you’ll be sure not to skip it yourself.

Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $14- This red is ALWAYS stellar. It’s got the gusto you expect from a big jammy Zin, but it’s also got depth and a lip-smacking finish. When in doubt as to what to buy as a gift or serve at a party, this Zin is a surefire hit. Not to mention Chewy really liked it!

To view the entire TODAY show segment featuring Maureen's cocktails, click here

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Elementary, My Dear New Jerseyans!

By Brianne Harrison

Whip out your violin and deerstalker—it’s time for Cape May’s Sherlock Holmes Weekend! Slip into character (and period garb) as you take on a case involving a medical investigation, a case of mistaken identity, a dangerous villain, and, of course, a dark secret. Track down clues that’ll lead to a $250 grand prize and other valuable gifts.

The weekend kicks off Friday evening as you gather for desserts and coffee and meet Dr. Watson, who’ll fill you in on his past with Holmes and get the mystery started. On Saturday afternoon you’ll visit some of Cape May’s loveliest Victorian locales in a search for clues and compare notes with Holmes and Watson to see how you’re doing. Sunday morning, Holmes will unlock the mystery at a hearty brunch with all the characters and participants.

Full weekend packages are available for $180 per couple or $95 per person. Packages include the welcome reception, tour, lunch, and all performances. Overnight packages run $270 per person, based on double occupancy, and include a room for two nights in one of Cape May’s cozy bed and breakfasts, beachfront hotels, historic hotels, or Victorian suites, as well as breakfast, a $75 dinner gift certificate (per couple), and all the Sherlock Holmes Weekend activities. Call 800.275.4278, x 185 for more information or to reserve your overnight package.

Monday, November 2, 2009

And the Beat Goes On

Three Generations of Great New Jersey Chefs

By Pat Tanner

The first inkling that Garden State foodies could be wowed by innovative, world-class cuisine without crossing the river into Manhattan came back in the ‘70s, in the tiny hamlet of Meyersville. It was there that brothers Dennis and John Foy opened the groundbreaking Tarragon Tree. The Foys eventually parted ways, and Dennis went on to establish a series of restaurants on both sides of the Hudson, some to great acclaim (Mondrian) and some not so much (Bay Point Prime). His latest venture is Dennis Foy’s Lawrenceville Inn, which opened in late October.

The legacy of the Tarragon Tree is the chain of young chefs that that kitchen begot. Here is just one branch of that family tree:

Dennis Foy’s Lawrenceville Inn. “Over the years my style of cooking has undergone a metamorphosis. It’s more focused and simplified,” Foy told me in a phone interview just days before he opened. So don’t expect fireworks on his Mediterranean-influenced menu, where most entrees stay under the $25 mark. Among the classics: butternut squash soup, cassoulet made with lamb, housemade pastas with Bolognese or carbonara sauces, crème brulee.

Craig Shelton at the Skylark Diner.
The most illustrious chef to emerge from the Tarragon Tree was a young Shelton, New Jersey’s most decorated chef whose (shuttered) Ryland Inn brought national acclaim. Shelton is currently ensconced daily as consulting chef at this splashy Route 1 diner in Edison, where he is developing a concept he labels “dinering.”

Scott Anderson at elements.
Among the myriad top chefs to emanate, in turn, from the Ryland Inn is this relative youngster, whose high-concept modern American restaurant in Princeton just celebrated its first year. It started strong (see my review from earlier this year here) and continues to excel. A recent nine-course tasting menu at the chef’s table there solidified my opinion that elements is currently the most exciting restaurant in the state.

For all of these stars, I say, thank you, Dennis Foy. I can hardly wait for the fourth generation.