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The Brick Oven

 117 Quimby St
Westfield, NJ
 

Reliable Italian

I recently revisited the Brick Oven as part of a party of 10 (seated at adjoing tables, one of 6 and the other of 4 as requested). We brought a boat-load of wine and it was handled professionally, including the several bottles of sparkling that we drank. I ordered the old reliable Chicken Parmigianna and it was both delicious and huge; indeed the half I brought home was the next evening’s supper. Others ordered a variety of standard menu items and specials. All was similarly portioned and well received. It is a good place with ‘comfortable’ old-style southern Italian offerings, out of the box specials, and fair prices. The only downside: It is quite noisy and difficult to hold a conversation with others at a table for six.

Chicken Parmigianna

It came with two flattened chicken breast halves nicely sauteed with a flavorful sauce and copious amounts of good mozzarella. The pasta was spaghetini, not what I would have ordered (it just came with it), but it was cooked perfectly al dente (not so easy with such a fragile pasta), amply sauced, and quite good. Who needs fancy food?

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Yummy Sushi

 1400 Parkway Ave
Ewing, NJ
 

Yummy is the Name!

Yummy Sushi is a new addition to the Mercer County sushi scene. Tucked away next to Marrazzo’s Thriftway in Ewing, you will find an oak-toned room with a dozen or so tables and a beautiful sushi bar. The sushi chef, and co-owner, previously from nearby East Sushi, now has free reign over menu selections and they are without peer in my mind. In addition to a very full range of sushi and sashimi dishes (and some of the very best rolls extant), there are Noodle, Teriyaki, Katsu, and Tempura dishes among Japanese entrees, and there are a few Vietnamese and Thai additions as well. I was especially pleased with the chef’s signature "Yummy Roll’ with shrimp and asparagus on the inside and spicy yellowtail on the outside. It has both a kick and a crunch and I would expect it to be quite popular. Overall, Yummy Sushi is an attractive space with excellent food and attentive service in an BYO environment. What’s not to like?

Beauty Alaska Roll

Wonderful crabstick, cucumber, and avocado inside and strips of salmon outside. It’s what a California roll would be if it could!

Yummy Roll

Spicy Yellowtail on the outside with shrimp and asparagus inside. The combination of spice and crunch are unbeatable. I have had one each time I have been there.

Beef Negimaki

This is a cooked entree consisting of thin slices of beef wrapped around scallians with teriyaki sauce. It has the look and feel of a sushi roll with the taste, texture, and art of preparation of a fine dinner.

Honey Chicken

This Vietnamese ‘special’ consists of perfecty grilled chicken with wonderfully sweet/spicy flavors served over rice. Simple but delicious. It can be had with pork as well (for $8.50)

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Buona Pizza

 243 South Ave E
Westfield, NJ
 

Quality on a Budget

Buona Pizza looks like a typical pizza joint upon entering the restaurant. There is the pizza counter on your left with pizza deliverers standing in the narrow aisle awaiting their pies for delivery. But if you continue walking straight back you will find a small, tastefully decorated dining room with about a dozen tables maybe able to sit 30 people or so. And if you have gotten that far you are in for some very tasty, if totally conventional, Southern Italian food. June, the owner’s wife, is frequently the waitress and she is friendly and talkative. The antipasto is a good starter no matter what you order, but realize it is a large plate with prosciutto, two kinds of salami, ‘regular’ ham, fresh mozzarella, sliced provolone, olives, peppers, lettuce, and a good dressing. It can serve four easily. The combo egg plant and chicken parmagiana is excellent and a great idea. The pizzas are quite good (try the salad pizza; it is an incongruity worth seeing). So are the various sandwiches, calzones, and the like. It is a great place to bring your own inexpensive wines, knowing that your bill will be quite reasonable AND you will take home tomorrow’s supper. What’s not to like?!

Rigatoni Pomadoro

Actually labeled as Rigatoni Filleto de Pomadore, this is rigatoni with your classic Amatriciana sauce with onions, prosciutto, and all kinds of flavor. I have a hard time not ordering it. It is how I judge pasta in a restaurant (because I make it myself) and this version is as good as it gets.

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East Sushi

 43 Scotch Rd
Trenton, NJ
 

Best Rolls in the Area

East Sushi is your ‘standard’ Chinese restaurant with a Japanese flourish—at least the format has become quite common in New Jersey. However, once you get past the regular menu and ask for the special menu (which is available every day, but for inexplicable reasons not normally presented to patrons unless they ask for it), you will find some of the best maki in New Jersey. Among my favorities is the Y-2K roll which has spicy salmon inside and yellow tail outside (which can be ordered in reverse; spicy yellow tail inside and salmon outside). Similar is the Spicy 2 in One roll with spicy tuna inside and salmon and tuna on the outside. Another winner is the Fire Dragon roll with eel and avocado on the inside and pepper tuna on the outside, all with a very tasty bi-color sauce. All the rolls are carefully made, generously proportioned, and fairly priced. Oh, and did I tell you about the sashimi lunch? Very generous portions of the best fish available. I am going back again for lunch today (and was there yesterday). The Chinese food looks OK, but I have never ordered it; I have been going there for several years and I always get the sushi.

Sashimi Lunch

Beautifully served pieces of salmon, tuna, yellow-tail, red snapper, white tuna, octopus (or whatever is best) with soup included. I usually skip the rice, but it is available if you want it.

Fantastic Roll

Tuna, Salmon, Yellow-Tail, and eel inside with a green covered rice outside. Very big (each piece almost needs to be cut in half when no one is looking).

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Triestina Ristorante

 515 Centennial Ave
Cranford, NJ
 

Cranford Gem

Not in the immediate ‘downtown’ area, Triestina Ristorante is in a burgeoning area on Centennial Ave that is also home to a new French Restaurant, a Calabrian Pizza joint ,and an English tea-room, to boot. It has a semi-formal atmosphere with starched tablecloths and a professional wait-staff. The fact that it is BYO is a major plus for all of us who enjoy fine wine but do not want to pay the normal restaurant mark-up. The menu items are standard, NJ style Italian, with some interesting cold and hot antipasti. But the waiter-recited specials are lengthy and imaginative, and transcend the ubiquitous Italian fare found in these parts. All the items are well-executed and worth a return visit. We have been there half a dozen times, at least.

Duck a la Orange

A half duck, on the bone, with very crispy skin and a robust orange sauce served with mashed potatoes, green beans, and zucchini was wonderful. It was served steaming hot, plated attractively, and amply proportioned. It was a special dish, and not what one would expect in a neighborhood Italian restaurant. I closed my eyes and I was eating in Paris. The “J” Pinot Noir (2003) I brought with me was a perfect match for the duck. The salad of arugula with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma was an excellent first course.

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