Davio's King of Prussia, PAOn Thursday, November 23, 2017, Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, will be serving Thanksgiving dinner from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

The Thanksgiving dinner will feature Oven Roasted Free-Range Organic Turkey, Creamy Potatoes, Green Beans with Caramelized Onions, Rum-Glazed Yams, Herb Roasted Root Vegetables, Brioche Stuffing, Natural Pan Gravy, and Cranberry Ginger Chutney.

The Thanksgiving Day menu is priced at $59.00 per guest; Children 12 years and under, $23.00 per guest. Special holiday desserts are $12.00 per guest. Turkey sandwich to go is $13.00. All items are exclusive of beverages, tax & gratuity.

For reservations, please call Davio’s at (610) 337-4810.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Crystal Springs - ThanksgivingLocated in the picturesque Skylands region of New Jersey, Crystal Springs Resort, 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, NJ, is a great place to spend the holidays. With six options for Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday, November 23, 2017, there is something for everyone.

The AAA-rated Grand Cascades Lodge will host a family Thanksgiving buffet with live music from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Emerald Ballroom. Guests may enjoy an array of seafood and antipasti from salumi and cheese to vegetables and shrimp; a salad bar with black kale salad, toasted red quinoa & barley medley, roasted delicate squash salad and more; pumpkin apple soup; a carving station with turmeric roasted turkey, maple cured rock of pork, rosemary focaccia stuffing, homemade chicken sausage stuffing, pan gravy with thyme honey cranberry sauce, as well as other hot entrées, including 54-hour braised short rib, chicken scaloppini, arctic char, and butternut & goat cheese lasagna. A bounty of desserts includes pumpkin pie, apple crumble, chocolate torte, cookies, mini pastries, and fresh fruit. The buffet is priced at $59.00 for adults; $25.00 for children aged 4-11; children under 4 are free (beverages, tax & gratuity additional).

 

Restaurant Latour will be serving a five-course Thanksgiving menu from 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for $125.00 per person (beverages, tax & gratuity additional). Executive Chef Anthony Bucco and Chef de Latour Martyna Krowicka have created an elegant feast of fall flavors and luxurious ingredients. The complete menu is noted immediately below…

Gala Apple: Caviar, Uni, Oysters… Chestnut Angolotti: Sage, White Truffles… Hokkaido Scallops: Garnet Sweet Potato, Coffee Soil… Heritage Turkey: Stuffing Sponge, Autumnal Vegetables… Pumpkin Roasted in Hot Ashes: Honey, Pink Peppercorns, Brown Butter.

 

Springs Bistro at Grand Cascades Lodge will offer an Italian take on Thanksgiving with a three-course menu for $65.00 from 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (children 11 and under $25.00). A wine pairing is available for $35.00 per person. The complete menu is noted immediately below…

Shaved Fennel Salad: Citrus, Herbs… or … Autumn Agnolotti: Pancetta, Sage

Traditional Turkey Dinner

 Dates: Chocolate, Almonds… or … Apple Pie

 

Crystal Tavern will serve an all-American celebration of the seasons with a three-course prix-fixe menu for $65.00 per person (children 11 and under $25.00) from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. A wine pairing is available for $35.00 per person. The complete menu is noted immediately below…

Potato Soup: Smoked Mussels, Chive Oil… or … Fall Harvest Salad: Pistachio, Pomegranate

Traditional Turkey dinner

 Pumpkin Pie… or … Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta: Roasted Pear

 

The Diamond Ballroom at Minerals Resort & Spa, Route 94, Vernon, New Jersey, is another option for families with a bountiful buffet from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The cost is $49.95 per person (children 4-11 $24.95; children under 4 are free). Children will have their own corner with mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken fingers, pizza bagels and more.

 

Black Bear Golf Resort, 138 New Jersey Route 23, will host its own Thanksgiving buffet featuring unlimited shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce; a carving station; soups, salads, cheeses, fruits and gourmet breads. For dessert, guests will enjoy Thanksgiving favorite pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, fruit tarts, mini pastries, and apple crumble.

Reservations are required for all of the above dining options. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (855) 977-6473.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Chakra InteriorOn Thursday, November 23, 2017, Chakra Restaurant in Paramus, New Jersey, will be serving a special three-course Thanksgiving Day feast from 12:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Appetizer (Choice of) – Caesar Salad: Romaine Hearts, Lemon Confit, White Anchovies, Parmesan Crisp… Mesclun Greens: Fines Herbes, White Balsamic Vinaigrette… Roasted Beet Salad: Blood Orange, Grapefruit, Fennel Pollen… Roasted Squash & Kale Salad: Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Baked Apples, Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette… Horseradish Crusted Crab Cake: Snow Pea Shoots, Mustard Seed Vinaigrette ($9.00 Supplement)

Entrée (Choice of) – Brandy-Maple Brined Goffle Road Turkey: Cornbread Stuffing, Chestnuts, Yams, Roasted Squash, Baked Terhune Farm Apple, Cranberry Sauce… Crispy Trout: Fennel Orange Salad, Coriander, Smoked Marcona Almonds, Brown Butter… Vegetarian Eggplant Tart: Sacred Chow Tofu, Tomato, Bell Pepper Coulis… Chili-Cinnamon Glazed Chilean Sea Bass: Potato Wrapped Shrimp, Baby Bok Choy, Lemongrass Nage ($9.00 Supplement)… Short Rib Ragu: House-Made Linguini, Parmesan Gremolata… Filet Mignon: Roasted Fall Vegetables, Truffled Fingerling Potatoes, Terhune Farm Apples, Pinot Noir Reduction ($9.00 Supplement)

Dessert (Choice of) – Pumpkin Panacotta: Berries, Vanilla Chantilly… Warm Valrhona Chocolate brioche Bread Pudding: Macerated Berries, Vanilla Ice Cream… Goat’s Milk Cheesecake: Figs, Port Wine, Honey-Rosemary Ice Cream

The price of the three-course Thanksgiving Day menu is $49.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). Diners are invited to enjoy 25% off bottles of wine for Thanksgiving. A children’s à la carte menu will also be available.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (201) 556-1530.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Agricola - InteriorOn Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 2017, Agricola Eatery, Eleven Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey, will be serving a special four-course prix fixe menu from 12:00 noon – 7:00 p.m.

First Course (Choice of) – Local Squash Soup: Pepita Brittle, Pumpkin Seed Oil… Ricotta Pumpkin Gnocchi: Great Road Farm Carrots, Squash, Brown Butter, Sage… Day Boat Scallops: Parsnip, Pear, Brussels Sprout, Mustard… Asian Pear Salad: Bitter Greens, Duck Confit, Birch Run Blue, Pecans

Second Course – Organic Kale Salad: Great Road Farm Radish & Carrots, Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Main Course (Choice of) – Geoffle Road Farms Heritage Turkey: Local Cranberry, Brown Butter Stuffing, Root Vegetables, Turkey Gravy… Key West Red Snapper: Great Road Farm turnip Chowder, Celery, Potato, Tarragon… Berkwood Farms Pork Shank: Chestnut and Date Spaetzle, Mushroom, Mustard JusLoRé Beet Rigatoni: Preserved Ramps, Squash, Ricotta… Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib Eye: Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Au Poivre Sauce ($15.00 Supplement)

Endings (Choice of) – Pumpkin Pot de Crème: Maple Caramel, Ginger Chantilly… Double Crust Apple Pie: Brown Butter Ice Cream, Candied Cranberries… Double Chocolate Tart: Cocoa Cinnamon Ice Cream, Salted Caramel

Vegetables to Share ($8.00 Each) – Local Potato Purée: Yukon Gold Potato, Bobolink Butter… Braised Local Greens: Pickled Ramps, Bacon… Roasted Winter Squash: Pumpkin Seed Crumble, Feta… Spiced Great Road Farm Carrots: Warming Spices, Honey

*Due to seasonality, the menu is subject to change.

The cost of the four-course Thanksgiving Day prix fixe menu is $70.00 per person; $35.00 per child 12 and under (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (609) 921-2798.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Mistral KOP - ExteriorOn Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 6:30 p.m., Mistral at King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, will host their first beer dinner. Mistral’s chefs will be presenting a special five course menu paired with beers from the local Conshohocken Brewing Company. This will be an excellent opportunity to enjoy a sampling of uniquely crafted small batch brews.

First Course: Bacon Beignets, Maple Crème Fraiche, Chives; Brew Pairing: Total Eclipse of the Squash Smoked Pumpkin Oatmeal Porter

Second Course: Gingerbread Gnocchi, Whey, Serrano Ham; Brew Pairing: Consho-HOPFEN Hull Melon Helles

Third Course: Halibut, Salsa Verde, Pork, Poblano; Brew Pairing: Ease Up Dry Hopped Saison

Fourth Course: Pork Rib, Squash, Brussels Sprouts; Brew Pairing: Puddlers Row E.S.B.

Fifth Course: Doughnut, Beer Float; Brew Pairing: Woodland Cathedral Belgian Imperial Stout

The cost of this special beer dinner is $54.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Seating is limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call Mistral KOP at (610) 768-1630.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Thanksgiving Wine Quick ReferenceAlthough it hardly seems possible, Thanksgiving is fast approaching. And so the big question – at least from on oenological standpoint – is, once again: What wines will best complement your holiday feast? And, once again, I will mention that the very centerpiece of your sumptuous celebration – namely the turkey – should have very little to do with you ultimate libationary choices. I say this because turkey is completely neutral and will undoubtedly go with any wine you’d care to serve with it… That’s the easy part.

Things do become a bit more difficult, however, when you attempt to choose wines that marry well – or at least don’t alienate – a complicated variety of side dishes. Many traditional holiday sides, for example, have a decidedly sweet component to them: cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes come immediately to mind; and even stuffing may be festooned with dried fruit and/or apples. So a Thanksgiving wine needs to be versatile enough to go with any (or all) of these sides… as well as the ubiquitous green bean casserole that inevitably manages to sneak into the mix.

The art of pairing wine with food is really very much a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, there are several fairly safe amalgams – both white and red – that come to mind. With white wines, the pairing priority is finding vintages with well-balanced acidity (ponderous, over-oaked Chardonnays, for example, are definite no-no’s). When it comes to reds, you want wines with fairly subtle tannins that will support the flavors of the food rather than overpowering them. Keeping that in mind, noted below are a few of my recent favorite reasonably priced wines for the Thanksgiving table…

 

 WHITE WINES:

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2016 The Furst… Riesling, Alsace, France, $15.99: The Furst… wines are produced in the picturesque town of Kayersberg, the birthplace of Albert Schweitzer, at the foot of the Vosges Mountains. The wines are made by Cave Vinicole de Kietzenheim-Kaysersberg. The Cave is a small consortium of wine growers, most of whom own their own small vineyards, averaging 3 to 5 acres in size. The 2016 The Furst… is a quintessential Alsatian Riesling with powerful aromas of ripe fruit and hints of rose and spice. Subtle and fragrant on the palate, its refreshing acidity is the perfect match for items such as sweet potatoes, turkey, and herb-laden stuffing. Available at Pennsylvania State Stores, the price is right… and Dan Steffan’s intriguing label is bound to be a conversation starter.

2014 Vincent Stoeffler Sylvaner, Alsace, France, $14.99: Sylvaner or Silvaner is a variety of white wine grape grown primarily in Alsace and Germany, where the official name is Grüner Silvaner. This Riesling-like grape is both underrated and overproduced, which inevitably leads to bland inferior quality wines. On the other hand, when grown on good sites with skilled winemaking, Sylvaner can produce exceedingly elegant wines. And the 2014 Vincent Stoeffler Sylvaner, certainly a case in point, is produced from certified-organic grapes that are naturally fermented. The wine is matured on the lees (expired yeast cells) in 80-year-old vats, which adds marvelously creamy notes. In the glass, the wine delivers apple and lightly smoky aromas. The palate is awash with layers of grapefruit backed by fresh acidity and minerality. Like the Riesling noted immediately above, this wine is a perfect match for the various foods that grace the Thanksgiving table.

Elena Walch & Daughters2016 Elena Walch Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy, $14.99: Born in Milan, Elena Walch had been an architect before marrying into a winemaking family in 1985 and moving to the Alto Adige region. When she first arrived on the scene, she was considered something of an oddity: “Twenty-five years ago,” she laughed in a recent interview, “being a woman in winemaking was very suspicious.” The philosophy of her wine estate is dedicated to its terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate, and cultivation in the vineyard – and that this must be maintained according to principles of sustainability. Her 2016 Pinot Grigio shows character, elegance, and great personality. The wine is light- to medium-bodied and framed with hints of pear backed by a delicate acidity. More than reasonably priced at $14.99. However, if you wish to go a bit more upscale, I highly recommend the 2016 Elena Walch Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio, $21.99. Most of this Pinot Grigio is fermented in stainless steel tanks; but 15% is fermented in French oak barriques and is allowed to experience a partial malolactic fermentation, which adds extra body and richness. Both wines are available through PA State Stores.

2015 Villa Pozzi Grillo, Sicily, Italy, $7.00 – $14.00: Villa Pozzi is located in Sicily, Italy’s largest wine producing region in both acreage and production. Originally constructed in 1860, Villa Pozzi’s modern winery was completely rebuilt in 2000. While other varietals offered by Villa Pozzi are widely distributed – Pinot Grigio and Nero d’Avola, for example – Grillo (pronounced GREE-lo) is a fairly recent addition to the U.S. wine market. Grillo is an indigenous Sicilian white wine grape traditionally used to make Marsala wines. Despite the decreased interest in Marsala, Grillo is still widely planted and is now standing on its own, producing crisp savory wines that are slightly reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. The 2015 Villa Pozzi Grillo, which I first encountered on the wine list at Mistral in King of Prussia, is straw yellow in color, slightly floral on the nose, and rife with fresh fruity notes on the palate. Like a Pinot Grigio, it has well-balanced, delicate acidity and a persistent finish. If you’re looking for something different to jazz up your Thanksgiving table, this just might fill the bill. Not yet available in PA State Stores, Villa Pozzi Grillo may be purchased online from a variety of sources.

 

RED WINES:

Columbia Crest Winery - Exterior2015 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Washington State, $12.00: In 1978 Ste. Michelle Wine Estates recognized the potential of the Horse Heaven Hills as a wine region and began the most intense planting schedule in Washington State’s modern wine history. The winery, designed by Seattle’s Howard S. Wright as a French country manor house, opened to the public in June 1983. For over three decades, it has been known as Columbia Crest, home to the Pacific Northwest’s largest winemaking facility. In 2009, the Wine Spectator unveiled its annual top 100 wines of the year. At number one was Columbia Crest’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon… a $25.00 wine. The news turned the wine world on its ear. Since the beginning, Columbia Crest was envisioned as a winery that produced value-minded wines; and it has stayed that course through the years. Just recently, for example, the Wine Enthusiast named Columbia Crest’s 2015 Grand Estates Syrah as number one in their top 100 best buys of 2017, noting its “compelling sense of texture” and “exquisitely balanced fruit and savory flavors.” And there is absolutely no question that this wine is an absolute steal at $12.00 a bottle.

Tasca d'Almerita Winery2014 Tasca d’Almerita Lamùri Nero d’Avola, Sicily, Italy, $14.99: Tasca d’Almerita is a fine wine producing estate in Sicily with an aristocratic background. It was founded in 1830 and has been a point of reference for ultra-high quality wines for over 100 years. Both indigenous and international grape varietals are planted… from the omnipresent Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to flagship Sicilian varietals such as Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Catarratto and Inzolia. In addition to the wines, the estate is self-sufficient, producing vegetables, fruits, wheat, olives, cheeses and meats. There is also a culinary school on the premises, considered one of the best in Italy, which has inspired culinary professionals from around the world, including Julia Child and Alice Waters. The 2014 Lamùri Nero d’Avola is a truly outstanding vintage. Made entirely from hand-harvested grapes, after fermentation, the wine is aged in French barriques for one year to add extra finesse. The wine was highly praised by the Wine Enthusiast, British wine writer Jancis Robinson, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which bestowed 92 points and noted: “The Tasca family hits a home run with this fabulous value wine.”

2014 Ridge Vineyards “Three Valleys” Sonoma County Zinfandel Blend, California, $26.00: As I mentioned several months ago, Ridge Vineyards is one of my favorite California wineries. Founded in the 1960s, it specializes in premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. Winemaker Paul Draper, who has seen Ridge through 47 harvests, recently retired at the age of 81, but remains Chairman of the Board. As one astute wine writer noted: “As one of the foremost ambassadors of American wine, Draper leaves behind a rich legacy at Ridge going back to 1969 and a team that is more than capable of leading the winery into the next generation.” The winery’s flagship is the incredible Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, a single-vineyard Cab that is robust, yet complex and elegant, and has often been called “California’s first-growth.” The 2014 Three Valleys is Ridge’s entry-level Zinfandel-based red, a blend of 65% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 14% Carignane, and 4% Grenache. This is an absolutely delicious wine that is value-priced and ready to drink. There’s plenty of vibrant fruit here, a touch of floral, and a stunning burst of spice. Readily available at your local Pennsylvania State Store… and an exceptional companion to your Thanksgiving Day feast.

Vitiano Rosso 20142014 Falesco Vitiano Rosso, Umbria, Italy, $10.00: Falesco is a winery and vineyard established in Montefiascone, Italy, in 1979. The estate straddles the border of Lazio and Umbria, about 50 miles north of Rome. This state-of-the-art winery is a family affair run by Riccardo Cotarella, his brother, Renzo, and his daughter, Dominga. The sprawling property is comprised of 670 acres; 370 acres given over to vineyards. The winery’s annual production is almost 3 million bottles. Falesco originally dedicated itself to making a good and highly commercial “Est! Est! Est!!! white wine. However, within a few years it expanded its vision and was also making specialty wines. Today, the winery is known for its high quality red wines like the flagship Montiano and the everyday Vitiano. The 2014 Vitiano Rosso is a blend of equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in French oak barrels for three months before being bottled. The result is a delicious, youthful, food-friendly red at a terrific price point. The 2014 Vitiano Rosso, which recently received 91 points from wine writer James Suckling, is available at PA State Stores for a mere $10.00 per bottle. An absolutely incredible bargain!

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving!

TAD

 

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Gladstone Tavern - Pumpkin WeekOctober 26 – 31, 2017, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, is now celebrating Great Pumpkin Week with a special appetizing array of pumpkin inspired menu favorites…

FROM THE BAR – Farmer Pete: Crop Organic Pumpkin Vodka, Melick’s Farm Hard Cider, Lemon… Jack-O-Fashioned: Kinsey Rye, Amaro, Maple, Cinnamon Bitters… Schlafly Pumpkin Ale: 8%, St. Louis, Missouri

STARTERS – Crisp Pumpkin Straw: Cilantro-Almond Pesto, Lime Sour Cream… Pumpkin Pancakes: Maple-Pulled Pork, Pickled Red Cabbage, Pumpkin Chili Salsa… Pumpkin Patch Salad: Shaved Pumpkin, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, Dried Cranberry, Rye Berry, Baby Kale, Smoked Shallot Vinaigrette

MAIN DISHES – Pumpkin & Country Ham Risotto: Chanterelle, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Villa Jack Cheese… Shrimp Pumpkin Curry: Coconut, Ginger, Snow Pea Greens, Rice Noddle, Peanut… Baby Pot Roast: Pumpkin, Parsnip, Turnip, Pearl Onion, Horseradish Broth

DESSERTS – Little Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin Spice Chantilly, Pumpkin Seed Clusters, Concord Grape Dots… Pumpkin Cheesecake: Graham Crust, Chocolate Crumb, White Chocolate Kisses, Dark Chocolate Sauce

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Francisco’s on the River

1251 River Road

Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

(215) 321-8789

www.franciscosontheriver.com

Francisco's on the River - ExteriorIn various travels along River Road, in hot pursuit of my latest restaurant review, Francisco’s attractive low-slung building had always piqued my interest – but not enough, apparently, to assuage my curiosity. New Hope/Lambertville always seemed to hold more promising gastronomic possibilities.

Recently, however, in search of a suitable dining spot while visiting old friends in Yardley, PA, Francisco’s once again began sending significant blips across my culinary radar screen.

Francisco's on the River - Interior 2Just glancing at the exterior, you’re not quite sure what decorative revelations might lie within. Once across the threshold, however, you are pleasantly surprised to find three simply & tastefully appointed diminutive dining areas. A one room affair would undoubtedly have constituted an acoustical nightmare. But the present arrangement, awash with trattoria-like closely spaced tables, reverberates with just enough conversational buzz to keep the noise level convivial without becoming cacophonous.

Chef/owner Francisco Argueta, a native of El Salvador, arrived in this country over 30 years ago, and learned to cook in an Italian kitchen. He rose up through the ranks and quickly became a skilled chef and then a restaurant proprietor (he also owns Florentino’s in Newtown, PA). In the nearly eight years that his restaurant has been in existence, Francisco’s has succeeded in building a loyal local clientele. Mr. Argueta has stated that something like ninety percent of his customers are regulars – and I certainly have no reason to doubt his word. Take a quick look around. The tourist bus doesn’t stop here. No, this is a comfy hometown crowd, loose & gregarious, with first-rate bottles of vino in tow (Francisco’s is a BYOB restaurant).

So the moment you’re seated at table, don’t be shy about getting down to business and ordering a basket of Francisco’s fabulous whole wheat garlic bread. It’s downright sensuous and guaranteed to get those gastric juices flowing for the good things to come… namely, hearty, old-fashioned Italian cuisine supplemented by innovative daily menu additions.

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In my opinion, salads are the best bets appetizer-wise. On one occasion, you may be treated to the delights of a Blueberry and Pear Salad embellished with goat cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette; on another, Fennel and Mushroom served over arugula, adorned with shaves of Parmigiano Reggiano and tossed with a lemon/olive oil dressing. Other possibilities include a first-rate Caesar Salad (which does contain raw egg), Mixed Greens with a balsamic vinaigrette, and the House Salad with julienned vegetables and fresh crumbled blue cheese dressing… But the table favorite – on two separate occasions – was overwhelmingly the incomparable Caprese Salad (pictured). Marvelously ripe and juicy plum tomatoes are pillowed on mixed greens. But rather than adding the usual basil leaves and splash of olive oil, the chef adorns the dish with a fabulously flavorful basil pesto.

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As you move on to the main course, Francisco’s pasta-driven entrées take center stage. And those utilizing beef – or various combos thereof – tend to be on the rich and savory side. The Fettuccini alla Bolognese, for example, incorporates ground beef, veal & pork in a meat stock tinged with red wine and cream. A benchmark effort. But even more addictive is the Filet Pasta con Gorgonzola (pictured). Chef Argueta pan sears diminutive portions of filet mignon and places them on a pillow of fettuccine tossed with an extravagantly decadent Gorgonzola cream sauce that is guaranteed to send your cholesterol count straight into orbit.

If you’d prefer to match your favorite pasta up with seafood, a number of appetizing options present themselves. The Pasta alla Cioppino, for instance, combines sautéed shrimp, salmon, tilapia, mussels and clams with diced tomatoes in a saffron white wine sauce served over fettuccine. The Linguine al Frutti di Mare Fra Diavolo is a variation on the theme with a bit more heat. Shrimp Scampi swims to table in either a white or red sauce… ditto the Littleneck Clams. In this latter presentation, I much prefer the littlenecks in the shell served in a luscious garlic white wine & lemon sauce over linguine.

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If Francisco’s has a house specialty, it is most assuredly Chef Argueta’s brilliant take on the two ultimate paradigms of Neapolitan comfort cuisine. His Eggplant Parmigiano, which usually suffers from plebian overtones, is deliciously picturesque and decidedly upscale. Fourteen (14) layers of wafer-thin sliced eggplant (undoubtedly the product of a mandolin) are bathed in the restaurant’s red sauce and enhanced with a sprinkling of parmesan and basil. Equally pleasing to both eye and palate is his Lasagna (pictured), luscious layers of perfectly cooked pasta interspersed with ricotta cheese & Bolognese supplemented by porcini mushrooms, smoked bacon, mozzarella cheese, and more of that irresistible red sauce. This is comfort food taken to an entirely new level.

Entrée specials vary, depending upon availability and the whims of the chef. On one occasion, diners may be treated to Herb Crusted Cod; on another, Herb Crusted Halibut, both adorned with fennel and a saffron orange sauce. Seafood-wise, however, Bob’s Plate – salmon, scallops, shrimp & crabmeat served over fettuccine in a pink vodka sauce – appears to be a menu constant.

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Meatier matters are well represented by the Rack of Lamb with fresh mint and lamb demi-glace one evening, Rack of Veal with a beef demi-glace on another. The Prime Pork Chop (pictured), however, appears to be another permanent menu resident – and with good reason. This is Kurobuta, or “black hog” pork, which comes from the famed Berkshire pig. The meat is incredibly juicy, tender… yes, and more expensive than regular pork. But if you’re a true pork fan, this is one chop – served up with some fabulous smashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables – that is worth every succulent bite.

Francisco's on the River - Lemon TartDesserts – if you still have room – are worth sticking around for. Chocolate lovers can revel in a first-rate Chocolate Torte and more intense Flourless Chocolate Cake. And for those who like it really sweet, there’s the classic Crème Brûlée. The Coconut Cake is the house favorite; and, in my estimation, it is certainly worthy of that accolade. The cake itself is marvelously moist; the icing appropriately sweet… but not cloyingly so. Right on the money, in every respect. On the other hand, after a hearty Italian dinner, a light, citrusy, palate-cleansing dessert might be just the ticket. And, when it is available, the Lemon Tart (pictured) will fill the bill quite nicely.

As noted above, Francisco’s is a BYOB restaurant… and a good bottle of Italian vino is certainly called for. But if you also happen to be in search of an enjoyable preprandial libation, allow me to suggest the cozy, comfortable, and extremely casual Bowman’s Tavern, just down the road.

Bon Appétit & Cheers!

TAD

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Zama Restaurant PhiladelphiaChef Zama Tanaka recently introduced a new tasting menu at Zama, his eponymous modern Japanese restaurant located at 128 South 19th Street, Philadelphia. The seasonal tasting menu is available daily and offers patrons seven unique courses…

First Course – Toro Two Ways: Toro Tataki with Red-Yuzu Pepper and Sesame Ponzu… Toro Tartar with Truffle Ponzu and Kizami Wasabi

Second Course – Ceviche and Crudo Sampler: Scallop Ceviche with Konbu Jelly and Yuzu… Bluefin Crudo with Takesumi Salt and Apple… Bronzino Crudo with Togarashi Salt and Hazelnut Oil

Third Course – Omakase Sashimi Black Belt: Chef’s selection of seven Sashimi with Fresh Wasabi

Fourth Course – Alaska King Crab Oshizushi: Tossed with Crispy Shallots, Scallion and Masago Mayo over Shushi Rice with Soy Butter

Fifth Course – Surf and Turf: Darling Downs Wagyu with J-1 Steak Sauce and Celery Root Purée… Butter-Poached Hokkaido Scallop with Yuzu Beurre Blanc

Sixth Course – Zama Chirashi: Mini Version of Zama Chirashi

Seventh Course – SST: Spicy Shrimp Tempura, Eel, Truffle Eel Glaze

Dessert – Choice from Pastry Chef Judy Bravo’s Menu of Mini Desserts (three per order): Banana Spring Roll… Mochi of the Day… Fluffernutter Dumplings… Apple Crisp with Oat Topping… Chestnut Mont Blanc with Chocolate Truffle… Yuzu Crème Brûlée… Tofu Beignets… Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Sea Salt

The cost of the new chef’s tasting menu is $100.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (215) 568-1027.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Yards Brewing Company Taproom - Chef James BurkeThis November (2017) Yards Brewing Company will open Yards Brewery and Taproom at 500 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. The highly-anticipated expansion and move from their cozy tasting room on Delaware Avenue further establishes Yards as “Philadelphia’s Brewery” and provides them with a new 70,000-square-foot facility.

The taproom – with Chef James Burke, a James Beard Award semifinalist, as the power behind the stove – will be the first kitchen in the brewery’s 23-year history. Chef Burke’s menu will complement and incorporate the choice hops and grains used in Yards’ award-winning beers, with special attention paid to local purveyors, Philly favorites, and classic pub fare.

The menu will be divided into Snacks, Sandwiches, Entrées, and Desserts; and the kitchen will serve food until one hour before closing time. The bar will feature 20 total taps, including all Yards’ signature beers and a number of limited releases only available in the taproom.

Chef Burke’s offerings will evolve as the taproom evolves, but menu items may include:

Yards Patty Melt, Brawler Onions, and Swiss

Crab Toast with Calabrian Chilies and Chives

Smoked Cheddar Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and House-Made Mustard

Roast Pork, Fermented Broccoli Rabe and Provolone

Beer Can Chicken, Fried Potatoes

Bison Chili, Maple Cornbread

Pork Belly Kebab, Tavern Spruce Glaze

Tavern Porter & Espresso Chocolate Mousse

Yards Taproom and Brewery, designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm DIGSU, will be modern industrial: an expansive, open floor plan with 25-foot ceilings, large hanging metallic lights and long wooden tables designed by local non-profit The Challenge Program, will offer 360 views of the entire brewing operation. The taproom will comfortably accommodate 280 guests. Adjacent to the taproom will be the Brewer’s Lounge, complete with a pool table, TV, dart board, and shuffleboard.

Yards is already accepting reservations for holiday parties. For more information, please contact Yards Brewing Company directly at (215) 634-2600.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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