Gladstone Tavern - Mixology WorkshopOn Thursday, November 15, 2018, 7:00 p.m., the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will host a mixology workshop hosted by Robby Seibert, Gladstone Tavern Mixologist.

Guests will eat, drink and, above all, learn about cocktails. Noted below is the list of cocktails and their food pairings…

Warm Mulled Wine: Cabernet, Cinnamon, Clove, Orange, Honey, Cognac; Food Pairing: Baked Brie Tart, Cranberry Relish

Farmer Pete: Clyde Mays Bourbon, Laird’s Applejack, Local Cider, Cinnamon, Lemon; Food Pairing: Cheddar filled Gougères

Spiced Cranberry Daiquiri: Don Q Rum, Brovo Orange Curaçao, Spiced Cranberry Cordial, Lime; Food Pairing: Turkey Tikka, Mini Papadum Raiita

Sophia Loren: Ketel One Vodka, Campari, Blood Orange, Basil; Food Pairing: Scallop with Velvet Veil

Pomegranate Margarita: Milagro Blanco Tequila, La Pinta Pomegranate Liqueur, Lime, Agave; Food Pairing: Gingerbread Cooked with Salted Caramel Glaze

The price of the mixology workshop is $60.00 per person, which includes cocktails, snacks, recipes and more. Event ticket purchases for this event are non-refundable. For more information, or to make a reservation for the workshop, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - Holiday Walk Around Wine TastingOn Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will be hosting a walk-around tasting featuring 12 must have wines for the 2018 holidays. Nicholas chose these wines with holiday entertaining in mind, showcasing crowd-pleasing varietals that complement holiday meals and cocktail events.

Wines to be tasted…

Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée Nicholas

Quinta de CouseloRias Baixas O Rosal 2017

Domaine Corsin Macon Villages 2017

Domaine du Carrou Sancerre Blanc La Jouline 2016

Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Tradition 2016

Terre Bianche Dolceaqua Rossese 2017

Domaine Cornu-Camus Hautes Côtes de Nuits 2017

Domaine Florent Garaudet Monthelie Rouge 2015

Trousse Chemise Pinot Noir Hyland Vineyard 2016

Stolpman Vineyards La Cuadrilla Ballard Canyon 2016

Domaine Laurent Combier Crozes-Hermitage 2016

CHAD Proprietary Red Cabernet Blend Napa Valley 2016

Beckmen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Cerbaia Brunello de Montalcino 2013

Fabre-Montmayou Malbec Gran Riserva 2015

The price of the holiday walk-around tasting is $75.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity), $50.00 of which will be put toward the first wine purchase. The restaurant’s world class hors d’oeuvres will also be served to complement the tasting.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Cotoletta, Belmont Hills, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on October 31, 2018

in Uncategorized


201 Jefferson Street

Belmont Hills, Pennsylvania

(610) 660-5224

Cotoletta - InteriorHidden away in the Belmont Hills, Cotoletta, which means “veal chop” or “cutlet” in Italian, occupies the space that was, for some 30 years, home to Mel’s Italian on the Hill. The 90-seat BYOB made its debut in January 2016 and has been packing them in ever since.

The restaurant’s homey interior – replete with an interesting array of unmatched tables and chairs, geometric light fixtures, splashes of deep blue & scintillating white, and oodles of fresh sunflowers – is as rustic and unpretentious as chef/proprietor Beth Amadio’s cuisine.  Ms. Amadio, a self-taught chef, presents a menu that is filled with great tasting quality-driven Italian/American comfort food taken to the max.

Cotoletta - Chicken ParmAnd the cotolette – cutlets (veal or chicken) sliced thin, pounded thinner, and served up with a side of pasta marinara – are clearly the center of attention. They come Milanese, breaded & pan-fried w/arugula, tomatoes & red onions… Marsala, sautéed w/mushrooms & marsala… Piccata sautéed w/lemon & white wine… and Parmesan, breaded & pan-fried w/provolone & marinara sauce (chicken parm pictured). By the way, Ms. Amadio also turns out a first-rate Eggplant Parmesan, which I thoroughly enjoyed during my first visit.

Cotoletta - The StackOn the other hand, if you have trouble making up your mind, the Cotoletta Stack, the specialty of the house, is highly recommended. Fried eggplant and longhot peppers stuffed with provolone cheese and marinara are sandwiched between two crispy pan-fried chicken cutlets… with a generous slathering of marinara completing the deal. The portion size is extremely generous and well worth the extra expenditure. While the Stack, priced at $32.00, is the most expensive item on the menu (except for certain specials), its extravagant portion size – unless you happen to have the appetite of a ravening hyena – will almost certainly necessitate a doggie bag, thus providing you with some tasty leftovers the following evening.

Cotoletta - Shrimp & VegetablesBut Cotoletta is more than just a one-hit wonder; so be sure to check some of the other entrées, particularly the seafood items, which are certainly worth a careful look-see. The Cioppino, a delicious tomato-based seafood stew, is excellent in every respect… ditto the Linguini & Clams, littlenecks spiked with garlic and white wine in an excellent lemon sauce. My dining partner, though, is quite partial to the Shrimp & Vegetables (pictured). Pristinely fresh and crunchy jumbo shrimp are paired with asparagus, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions in a rich, tomato-based broth.

Cotoletta - BranzinoMy nod, though, goes to the Branzino, European Sea Bass, the special fish of the day. And, rather than going through the theatrics of having it filleted tableside – which generally means the flesh will be cold before you get your first bite – all the dirty work is taken care of in the kitchen. In addition, rather than roasting, the filleted fish is pan seared and embellished with a touch of olive oil, splash of lemon and white wine, and healthy dose of garlic. Simple but sublime. Proof, once again, that finny fare is best served by those accoutrements that intrude the least.

Appetizers gather together many of the usual suspects, including Mussels in red or white sauce, Broccoli Rabe with olive oil & garlic, Grilled Artichoke, and Stuffed Long Hots with sausage, provolone cheese, and marinara. Given the generosity of the entrées, however, the refreshingly crisp salads – which are perfect for sharing – are clearly the way to go here. Take the Arugula, for instance. The tangled peppery greenery comes replete with roasted peppers, kalamata olives, grilled artichokes, and generous chunks of Parmigiana Reggiano. An excellent choice.

Cotoletta - Milan SaladThe table, favorite, however, proved to be the Milan, a combo of iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, bacon, chopped eggs, shrimp, and a dynamite house dressing. It may not be terribly photogenic, but it’s downright delicious… That dressing, by the way, pays homage to the iconic Thousand Island recipe made famous at the Milan, which opened for business at 39 South 19th Street in Philadelphia’s Center City in 1951. Jimmy’s Milan Salad Dressing, which is available online, continues to tantalize appetites today… as does Cotoletta’s mouthwatering interpretation of the original.

Cotoletta - CannoliDesserts take something of a backseat here, but (if you still can find some room) they are well worth considering. The Lemon Cake is quite good; ditto, the Strawberry Cream Ice Cream. My nod, though, goes to the made-in-house cannoli, Sicilian delicacies of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with ricotta based sweet cream. The filling is light… decadent… irresistible. The perfect ending to a most satisfying meal.

Cotoletta - ExteriorGetting to Cotoletta may seem something of a chore… Coming from the west, take the Schuylkill Expressway east to the Belmont Avenue exit, hang a right at the bottom, go under the overpass, and hang an immediate right onto Ashland Avenue. Go up the hill, pass La Collina, and turn right onto Jefferson Street. Cotoletta is located at 201 Jefferson. Sounds difficult but – depending on the traffic, of course – it really isn’t… And don’t worry about parking in this packed and stacked residential neighborhood, as the restaurant has complimentary valet parking… Just don’t forget to BYOB.

 Bon Appétit!



Peacock Inn2The Peacock Inn Restaurant & Bar, the only boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey, recently introduced afternoon tea to the bustling university town.

The traditional tea service includes three elegant tiers of savories and sweets served with losoe-leaf tea or French press coffee.  Tea sandwiches include cranberry walnut chicken salad in a pretzel bun and roasted turkey with brie and honey mustard. Freshly-baked scones are served with clotted cream and jam. To sate the sweet tooth, there are bite-size desserts, including an orange almond cake, coconut caramel tart, and rich chocolate truffle. The selection of fragrant teas ranges from classic English Breakfast and Earl Grey to unique white and green blends with notes of chamomile, lavender, apple, lemon, and pear.

Afternoon tea is $65.00 per person and is offered daily between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. by reservation only. The afternoon tea experience can also be enhanced with a flight of Champagne and sparkling wine and Ossetra caviar for $95.00 per person.

The Peacock Inn’s popular fine dining restaurant features an extensive, well-curated wine list and sparkling Champagne bar with a Zagat rating of 26 for food, ambiance and service, and received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence three years in a row.

Located at 20 Bayard Lane in Princeton, New Jersey, the Peacock Inn Restaurant is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (609) 924-1707.

Bon Appétit!



Alba - Interior 2On Sunday, December 2, 2018, Restaurant Alba, 7 West King Street, Malvern, Pennsylvania, will be hosting a wild game dinner paired with a variety of exciting Italian wines.

Amuse Bouche: Duck Liver Crosinti, Pear Mostarda; Wine Pairing: Ca’Furltam, Prosecco, Veneto

First Course: Spiedino of Quail, Pancetta, Sage, Frisée Salad, Quail’s Egg; Wine Pairing: Famiglia Cotarella Ferentano, Trebbiano/Malvasia, Lazio, 2015

Second Course: Pheasant, Smashed Rutabaga, Thyme, Roasted Apple, Pheasant Brodo; Wine Pairing: La Ciarliana, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, Tuscany, 2013

Third Course: Squab Risotto, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary (Possible Truffle Addition, $65.00); Wine Pairing: ?Aurelio Settimo, “Rocche dell Annunziata,” Barolo, Piemonte, 2010

Fourth Course: Wood Roasted Moulard Duck Breast, Roasted Grapes and Crackling, Venetian Style Polenta; Wine Pairing: Tenuta Santa Maria, Amarone, Veneto, 2012

Fifth Course: Chocolate Polenta Cake, Amarena Cherries, Soft Whipped Cream; Wine Pairing: Fantino Barolo Chinato, Piemonte

The price of the wild game wine dinner is $140.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Seating is limited. Doors open at 5:00 p.m.; dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call Restaurant Alba at (610) 644-4009.

Bon Appétit!



Nicholas - White Truffle DinnerOn Friday, November 16, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a five-course menu with each course featuring fresh white truffles flown in from Alba, Italy.

The menu is noted immediately below…

Amuse: White Truffle Arancini

First Course: White Truffle “Grilled Cheese”: Organic Truffle Cheese, Brioche, Fresh White Truffle

Second Course: Hand-Rolled Black Pepper Agnolotti, Ricotta, Fresh White Truffle

Third Course: Truffle Stuffed Roasted Chicken, Truffle Polenta

Dessert: White Truffle Crème Brûlée

The price of the white truffle dinner is $250.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). This is a one-night-only event and sells out every year. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Gladstone Tavern - Pumpkin WeekFrom Thursday, October 25 – Wednesday, October 31, 2018, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will be celebrating Great Pumpkin Week with a special menu incorporating fresh, locally grown pumpkins from Melick’s Town Farm.

FROM THE BAR – The Great Pumpkin: Rock Town Hickory Smoked Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Pumpkin, Maple, Lemon, Nutmeg, Cinnamon… Dogfish Punkin’ Ale: 7%, Delaware… Down East Pumpkin Hard Cider: 5.1%, Massachusetts

STARTERS – Pumpkin Tortilla Soup: Pumpkin, Ancho & Poblano Chili, Chicken Broth, Tortilla Strips, Cilantro Chimichurri… Crispy Pumpkin Straw: Smoked Chili Aioli… Pumpkin Patch Salad: Shaved Pumpkin, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, Dried Cranberry, Walnut, Maytag Blue Cheese, Frisée, Baby Kale, Local Cider Vinaigrette

MAIN DISHES – Shrimp & Pumpkin Curry: Coconut, Ginger, Lemongrass, Bell Pepper, Shiitake Mushroom, Pea Leaves, Rice Noodle, Peanut… Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin: Pumpkin-Pumpkin Seed Stuffing, Cranberry-Cider Jus, Roasted Garlic Wilted Greens, Pumpkin Hush Puppies

DESSERTS – Lil’ Pumpkin Pie: Vanilla Ice Cream, Snicker Doodle Crumb, Caramel Cream Cheese… Pumpkin Affogato: Pumpkin Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream, Mini Ginger Snap Cookie, Hot Espresso Shot

For more information about Great Pumpkin Week, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



Vickers Restaurant - InteriorOn Thursday, November 15, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Vickers Restaurant & Bar, 192 East Welsh Pool Road, Exton, Pennsylvania, will host its final wine dinner of 2018: The Great Plains: Wild Game Dinner. The dinner will explore the flavors of domestic game paired with spicy and earthy wines from both domestic and international producers.

The menu will incorporate American bison, duck, rabbit and venison. Sommelier Hudson Austin will prepare accompanying wines from boutique and well-known producers from all over the world that will balance these richly flavored dishes.

Wild Game & Wine Dinner Menu…

First Course – Venison Sausage: Blonde Beans, Ligonberry Reduction

Second Course – Pithivier of Pheasant: Juniper, Hazelnut

Intermezzo – Confit of Duck: Drunken Cherries, Bitter Lettuce

Third Course – Medallions of Bison: Medoc, Morels

Dessert – Stone Fruit Turnover

Wines: California, Oregon, France, Italy

The cost of the Wild Game Dinner is $95.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). This is an intimate event with limited seating. For more information, or to make reservations, please call Vickers at (610) 336-7998.

Bon Appétit!



Latour - InteriorThe highly-rated Restaurant Latour, located in Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey, will be undergoing a complete renovation. The restaurant served its last dinner in its upstairs space on October 21st. Now closed for construction, Latour will reopen to the public in December.

In the meantime, Restaurant Latour’s menu will be served in the intimacy of the Wine Cellar. Guests will have the rare opportunity to enjoy a four-course dinner menu without having to book a private event at the cellar. The format will be somewhat different than a traditional dinner service. Guests will arrive at 6:30 p.m. for a tour of the Wine Cellar and enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly. They will then be seated at 7:00 p.m. for dinner service, which will include a four-course prix fixe, special wine pairings and Latour’s extraordinary wine list. This special dining experience in the Wine Cellar will be available Thursday – Sunday, From October 25th until December 2nd. The four-course menu with multiple options for each course is priced at $115.00 per person.

In addition, each week during the month of November, a different winery will be highlighted for the featured wine pairing ($55.00).

November 1 – 4: Wines from Husic Vineyards in Napa Valley, CA. On November 3rd, Frank & Julie Husic will be in attendance at a special dinner.

November 8 – 11: Highlighting New Jersey’s own Alba Vineyard.

November 15 – 18: The famed Napa Valley producer Far Niente.

November 22 – 25: The Legendary Chateau de Beaucastel from France’s Rhone Valley.

November 29 – December 2nd: The award-winning New Jersey winery Unionville Vineyards.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (844) 225-4957.

Bon Appétit!



FROM THE BOOKSHELF: Irene Levy Baker, Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia (Reedy Press, 2018, 212 Pages)

Unique Eats and Eateries of PhillyIrene Levy Baker, you may recall, is also the author of 100 Things to Do in Philadelphia Before you Die, which was reviewed in the March 2017. Originally from Ohio, she has spent the last 25 plus years exploring the various interesting aspects of life in the City of Brotherly Love. After working for almost a decade at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, she opened Spotlight Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in restaurants and hospitality. She has worked with various tourist bureaus in Philadelphia and South Jersey, boutique hotels, celebrity chefs, the nation’s first environmentally-smart hotel, and one of the nation’s largest malls.

Her current book, Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia, delves into the intriguing stories behind 90 Philadelphia restaurants, as well as acquainting readers with other foodie destinations and neighborhoods along the way.  There’s the story of the Gran Caffè L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy that was completely destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in Philadelphia, home to one of the largest Abruzzese populations in the world outside of Abruzzo… Or the marvelous tale of a retired opera singer who won the hearts of both owners and patrons at Portabellos in Kennett Square… There are the romances… the divorces… and the stories of restaurants that have survived mob hits, fires, and Prohibition.

Then there’s the Hop Sing Laundromat, the Chinatown speakeasy that Condé Nast Traveler called “one of the best bars in the world.” It doesn’t have a sign… but it does have a ton of rules… no photos… no flip-flops… no shorts… no baseball caps. In 2017, however, it was announced that sneakers, which had previously been forbidden, would now be permitted. On the other hand, pull out your cell phone while you’re inside and you’ll immediately be shown the door and promptly added to the list – along with 16,000 others – of those who have been banned for life. Sound like fun?

From the sublime to the ridiculous… Well, you get the idea; there’s a bit of something for everybody. From Fante’s Kitchen Shop, the oldest cookware store in the United States… to Chef’s Counters, where cooking has become theater… to Farmer’s Keep and Sweet Freedom, allergy-free restaurants… to the Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia… to a captivating Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden… to South Philadelphia from the Italian Market to East Passyunk’s Restaurant Row… to Pizza Brain & Museum, the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia… to Magpie, Holly Ricciardi’s fabulous pie shop… to Miss Rachel’s Pantry, a charming vegan BYO.

Ms. Baker, of course, does not fail to mention some of the more famous Philly-area restaurants that have their own unique stories. There’s Talula’s Table, for example, the charming country chic eatery located in Kennett Square. To reserve the farmhouse table, diners must call one year in advance to the day, at 7:00 a.m., and book the entire table, which seats eight to twelve people. Condé Nast Traveler dubbed it “The world’s toughest restaurant reservation” and the New York Times called the experience a “spiritual retreat.” The restaurant is a BYOB and does provide recommended wine pairings.

Then there’s Fork… When the restaurant opened its doors in 1997, Le Bec Fin, Bookbinders, and Striped Bass were among the city’s most popular restaurants. They’re all gone. But even after a number of setbacks – including the May 12, 2015, Amtrak train derailment that tragically paralyzed then executive chef Eli Kulp – Fork is still going strong. Other stories from top-of-the-line eateries include Vernick Food & Drink, Chef Michael Solomonov’s Zahav, and Vedge, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s incredible vegetarian establishment.

One final word… In the introduction to the book, Ms. Baker writes: “To be included in this book, the restaurants needed not only a good story but also good food. So readers who eat up the stories will also be eating well.”

My response to this statement is that it is a tad misleading, as good stories do not necessarily mean good cuisine. Over the years, I have dined at a number of restaurants mentioned in the book and found them to be excellent… But I have also dined at other restaurants mentioned and found them wanting.

In an interview on KYW Radio, Ms. Baker freely admitted that she was not a food critic. She considered herself a “food detective” and a “storyteller.” She mentioned that she told the stories, talked about the restaurants and the cuisine so that people could make their own decision as to whether or not they wished to try them.

Baker, Irene Levy 2Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia is an invaluable resource, and I highly recommend it. My only caveat would be that if you are contemplating a visit to a restaurant (especially one in the pricey upper echelons) mentioned by Ms. Baker – since she is neither a food critic nor a restaurant reviewer – is to seek out opinions from other sources, namely professional restaurant critics and the various social media, Yelp, Tripadvisor, etc., before rushing to make a reservation.  This is the very same advice I give to readers with regard to restaurants that are written up in other guidebooks or periodicals such as the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine or Bon Appètit. And, over the years, it has stood me (and them) in good stead… as there is nothing more frustrating than throwing good money after bad food.

Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia is available at, other sources online, and from your local Barnes & Noble.

Bon Appétit!