Monday, April 4, 2011

Due Mari - Review

Due Mari - Dude Grade: B+
78 Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1227
Phone: (732) 296-1600

After hitting up the phenomenal Marea with my wife, my parents wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday so I suggested Due Mari - Michael White's NJ restaurant. This probably was Michael White overkill, but it was a glorious decision as the food was pretty amazing for NJ. Actually, it would stand up to a lot of places in NYC as well. Highly recommended.

Our Menu

Mussels Marinara **
East Coast Mussels, Garlic, Chilies, White Wine, Pomodoro, Basil, Grilled Foccacia
I've had this dish way too many times, but Due Mari's version was excellent. The mussels were so plump, juicy, and flavorful - a rarity for some reason as I've had way too many shriveled up mussels. The tomato/basil broth was so insanely addicting that I had to get some additional foccacia to finish the broth off.

Insalata Picante *
Baby Arugula, Watercress, Wild Greens, Beets, Goat Cheese, Pistachio, Horseradish Dressing
We've all seen this type of salad a ton of times, but this was still very fun to eat. The goat cheese was uber tasty with the nutty pistachio coating.

Polipo ***
Grilled Octopus, Olives, Peppers, Radicchio, Ceci Beans
A huge fireworks display of flavors and textures. The octopus was crispy and smoky from the grilling, but still quite tender and very delicious. Combine that with the briny olives, capers and the texture of the beans and radicchio and you have quite a WTF dish.

Garganelli **
Parma Prosciutto, Mushrooms, White Truffle Butter

I loooove this pasta so much - texture was so spot on. Although the truffle butter sauce seemed gimmicky, it was in fact pretty delicious.

Fresh Chitarra Spaghetti *
Roasted Lobster, Shrimp, Fresh Tomatoes, Garlic & Chilies

A pretty fun dish with great tomato and garlic flavor. The lobster was perfectly cooked - tender and sweet. The pasta was good and my mom said this tastes exactly like gong jai meen - oddly enough she was 100% right.

Lamb (Daily Special) **
Demi Glace and Goat Cheese Cream

Very flavorful lamb that was spectacular with the demi glace and goat cheese cream. Big time flavors.

Tilefish (Daily Special) *

Nicely cooked fish that was moist and tasty. The sauce worked nicely with the fish, but surprisingly the star of the dish was the tasty carrots.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way | (no stars - poor to average) | * Good | ** Great | *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience
  • Food (B+) – Delicious Italian food that would even make me happy if it was in NYC.
  • Service (B) – Servers were very on point and friendly. They looked like they were mostly college kids (it's near Rutgers), but service was pretty solid.
  • Atmosphere (B) – We've been to this place when it was called Nova Terra and the looks seemed very similar. It's got the steakhouse/Spanish thing going on with dark tables, dark leather chairs, and some orangish/yellow walls. We got there at 6pm on a Saturday and it was getting pretty full. By the time we left, the place was completely packed - there's a bar scene that seems to be hoppin' there too. The crowd was mainly older - 40's and above.
  • Price (N/A) - Didn't pay, so no idea how much things cost.
Closing Comments
Definitely a go to place whenever I visit my parents in Central Jersey. Michael White is in the same caliber of Cesare Casella for me now - I've been to three of Michael White's restaurants and I've been extremely happy at all of them. Ai Fiori up next for me...

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