Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Due Mari

I told you I was conquering the rest of Chef Michael White's restaurants for my birthday this year, didn't I? Well to remind you, I went to Costata and Ristorante Morini. Due Mari is the last restaurant to cross off the list. After this, I can proudly say I've been to all of his restaurants! How's that for a fan following? You're probably tiring of hearing me say how much I love this cooking. I'm probably sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher at this point. Buuuuut, before I begin my review, I would like to mention that Due Mari does a 4-course prix fixe meal for $58. That's a steal compared to the prices in NYC. We ordered a la carte at Due Mari but would definitely opt for the prix fixe with a smaller group. So, enough with the yapping, onto the food porn!
To start, we shared a bunch of appetizers like the arancini ($6) which came with 5 generous orbs of risotto balls in pomodoro sauce. Crispy fried breaded crust and creamy filling. Perfect for a group.

The romana salad ($11) was ordered to give us a bit of greens but when it's romaine lettuce covered in caesar dressing, the point seems a bit moot. But delicious anyway with the cheesy dressing and fresh leaves of lettuce. More shaved parmegiano on top? Yes, please!
The calamari ($13) was a good sized portion of fried squid with chili and Sicilian lemon creama. Lightly breaded and fried just perfectly. And I'm always happy to see both rings and tentacles meaning they're using the whole squid.
And the last appetizer was the fritti ($7) which were fried zucchini sticks with lemon and parmesan. Again, lightly breaded and fried just perfectly leaving the crust oh so crunchy while the inside was tender.
And now onto the entrees. I decided to have pasta that night since I'm such a big fan of Chef White's housemade pasta. This night, at Due Mari, I had the gramigna ($22) which was tube pasta with Calabrian chili, clams, crab, and leeks. I loved the combination of sweet seafood with the spiciness of the chili. This pasta was light but packed a lot of flavor. I happily ate my way through every last bite.
One of the specials of the night was a branzino (maybe?) with sauteed vegetables and shrimp. A whole fish is offered for the dish with plenty of sides. This is a complete meal and more with the perfectly prepared fish, fresh vegetables, and tender shrimp.
The costatine ($28) was a tender braised short rib with mashed potatoes and gremolata bread crumbs. A heavier winter dish but prepared well so that you don't feel bogged down from eating this.
The cappelletti ($24) were truffle ricotta ravioli with butternut squash and brussel sprout leaves. An ode to the season with squash, cabbage, and truffles. Again, perfectly formed and cooked pasta.
The agnello ($30) was a beautiful piece of pan roasted lamb with basil pesto, pancetta, spaghetti squash, golden raisin, and kale. Another winter heavy dish but prepared and paired well with the sides.
And the last entree of the night was the gnocchi ($20) with butternut squash, brown butter sage, and amaretti cookie crumbs on top. Simple flavors but everything just worked so well together. A classic pairing of butternut squash, brown butter, and sage. Tender hand rolled gnocchi soaking up the light buttery sauce.
For dessert, we shared a couple of dishes such as the panna cotta ($10) which was a vanilla custard with pomegranate granita, apple, shaved chocolate, and pistachios. This dessert was just okay and was my least enjoyed dish of the night. Something about the combinations didn't do it for me.
The budino de caramelo ($10) was a better received dessert with the caramel custard, chocolate ladyfinger, coffee streusel, and chocolate crema. A better balance of flavors in my opinion.
Overall, another good meal had by Chef Michael White. Again, the pasta was the star but the meats and fish weren't far behind. With the affordable prix fixe price, this was definitely worth traveling to.

Due Mari
78 Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 296-1600
duemarinj.com

2 comments:

  1. You've also been to his HK restaurant??

    This sounds so amazing. I may have to travel to Jersey for this. Oh my. And I don't like granita much, especially mixed with panna cotta. It is icky to me.

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    Replies
    1. I have been to all of his restaurants in the US. He has places in Hong Kong, London, Turkey, etc. I don't count restaurants with the same name in different locations as being separate.

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