A suit of gilded armor greets diners when they step inside Chateau of Spain, reminding them that in both décor and cuisine, the restaurant seeks to transport to another land. As a peninsula nation, Spain has developed a cuisine reliant upon fresh, copious seafood, and bright-pink shrimp works its way into many of the dishes on this menu, including shrimp sautéed with mushroom sauce, stuffed with crabmeat, and hobnobbing with other shellfish in the seafood paella. The lunchtime menu showcases a mix of Spanish and American fare, including burgers and BLTs, which diners can enjoy as they watch the small fleet of televisions affixed to the wall broadcasting soccer matches or the latest Real Housewives of New Jersey dubbed in Spanish for easier understanding.
Ryan DePersio doesn't have a lot of time on his hands. He runs not only Montclair's Fascino with his family but also the marina-side Battello, which he reopened with a fresh look in early 2014.?The space's revival has quickly made it an in-demand spot for weddings. Here's a look at what's made it so popular.
Something Old: The Food
DePersio found success at Fascino with a culinary style he describes as "Italian without borders." He brings the same style to Battello, with dishes such as homemade ricotta gnocchi, lauded by the Star-Ledger as "an impossibly ethereal dish and is itself worth the trip."
Something New: The Cocktails
Fascino is a BYOB spot, so DePersio was eager to start a cocktail program at Battello. He brought in a mixologist to conceptualize drinks such as the Jules, a simple, yet complex pairing of Glenfiddich and lemon-chamomile syrup. The drink list is rounded out by predominantly Italian wines, as well as domestic and imported craft beers.
Something Borrowed: The Decor
DePersio spared no expense in his face-lift of Battello, hiring HGTV star Anthony Carrino to redesign the interior. Much of the marina-inspired decor is salvaged, including the rowboat hanging above the entrance and the brass yacht lanterns affixed to the walls.
Something Blue: The View
Floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the dining room frame what the Star-Ledger calls "a view of Manhattan that has no peer." Anchored by One World Trade Center, the skyline often looks impossibly blue, thanks to the Newport Yacht Club and Marina waters and endless sky surrounding it.
Inside the kitchen at Riverside Manor is a staff that knows how to bring the best out of their Atlantic-harvested ingredients and Italian cooking methods. Fresh, homemade pastas envelop pumpkin ravioli and serve as pillows for shrimp and scallops. Filet mignon tops bruschetta or stars in an entr?e of its own. And eight brick-oven pizzas come strewn with four cheeses, spinach and feta, or crispy buffalo chicken. And to accommodate as many patrons as possible, the cooks prepare a whole-wheat penne primavera along with an entire menu of gluten-free dishes.
But perhaps it?s the building itself that best represents an elegant fusing of old and new. On the site of what was once a 19th-century silk mill, the doors now open into a scene that could fool you into thinking you just passed through a wormhole to Tuscany. Along with hand-carved wooden furnishings and ornamental ironwork, brick archways and painted trompe l?oeils bring a playfulness to the space, which doubles as a frequent host for weddings and other special events.
The brightly colored lights that decorate The Lobby illuminate amenities of a gastropub, cocktail lounge, and sports bar all in one place. This glow mingles with the light from scores of LED HD TVs, which showcase games in nearly every sport throughout the week. The space stays open until 3 a.m. every Thursday through Saturday, providing an ideal hangout for late-night revelers or nocturnal pool sharks. To keep its visitors fueled, The Lobby's kitchen creates a plethora of hearty sandwiches, including a southern-fried chicken sandwich topped with guacamole and a house burger piled with bacon. Eclectic entrees include the cumin and teriyaki-marinated chicken, and miniature paella loaded with steaming seafood and chorizo, round out the menu.
Diners recline on the aged-black-leather chairs at Christie's Steakhouse, sipping martinis as they watch as they watch international travelers drift in and out of the Crowne Plaza hotel. Servers emerge from the kitchen, nimbly juggling plates of Black Angus steaks, fresh seafood dishes, and artisanal pizzas. They set plates down on linen-clad tabletops, their faces illuminated in the glow of soft hanging lights and five glimmering widescreen TVs.
Michael Scotto draws on his native Italian heritage and knowledge of traditional recipes at Jester’s Cafe’s, which serves classic Italian dishes crafted to pair with a deep, international-wine menu. Italian and Australian varietals of red and white complement high-grade poultry and filet mignon delivered fresh daily, creating worldly meals without the pulpy aftertaste left after chewing through a road atlas. The eatery fosters a cheerful ambiance with a wide array of specialty cocktails mixed with top-shelf vodkas, rum, and even champagne. Jester’s Cafe also provides a semisecluded back room for private parties as well as off-premises catering services for wedding parties and postdivorce luaus.