Tradition meets innovation at Diwani Indian Restaurant. Some dishes are absolute classics, and the chef is determined to soar past other restaurants' takes on tradition. For instance, every entrée emerging from the clay oven, or tandoor, is consciously designed to be a juicy and vividly flavorful alternative to what Diwani's chef has diagnosed as the sub-par tandoori cuisine found at many establishments. Other chef favorites include fried vegetable fritters and chickpeas prepared with cumin and pomegranate seeds, which rapidly sprout into a tree diners can take home in a to-go pot. And then there are the menu's completely unexpected dishes, like venison and wild boar chops. But what all the dishes have in common is that each is made to order, with heat levels that can raised upon request.
Brothers Jimmy and Remy Qosja named their restaurant for the century-old Italian liqueur, a fragrant drink traditionally crafted from Femminello St. Teresa lemons. The siblings and their chefs make frequent use of limoncello in their kitchen, whether showering it over sweet Italian desserts or combining it with basil and garlic to whip up sauces. The latter seasons pasta dishes and Italian specialties such as the vetello benito veal, lauded by reporters from Eat Drink New Jersey as "scrumptious". The chefs enjoy embellishing their creations with elaborate flourishes before sending them off, topping of plates of pistachio salmon with ornate carrot flowers and decorating cakes in swirls of syrup.
Servers bear the dazzling preparations out to the dining room, where crisp linen napkins sit atop white-cloth tables. In lieu of pop songs or uncomfortable audiobook recordings of Old Yeller, soft Italian music plays over the speakers in the elegant space.
There's a low-key vibe to Smith Brothers Steak & Chophouse—its simple wood tables are surrounded by vintage liquor ads and a shiny granite bar that reflects the flat-screen TVs behind it. But the team here takes steak seriously. Each signature cut is made with certified Black Angus beef, including a 16-ounce flat-iron sizzler with mushrooms and their signature 6-ounce filet with caramelized onions. Aside from steak, you can also try the shrimp scampi, chicken francese, or center-cut pork chops. Live musicians play on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as whenever it's not Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
There is no freezer in the kitchen at Pearl Restaurant. Instead, chefs leave the eatery each morning to purchase ingredients from local farms and markets. That means that by the time the afternoon sun hits the shop, there is a new menu incorporating shark steaks, butternut squash, Maine crab, watermelon, and whatever else happens to be fresh. Using those seasonal ingredients and housemade pastas, chefs come up with unique dishes bound for the softly lit dining room. Past menu items have included a pear-and-goat-cheese salad, pan-roasted Boston cod, and slow-braised boneless short ribs with parmesan risotto. To eliminate the time and space between the cooking process and the diner, chefs also carefully craft most desserts right next to tables using fresh fruit and recently snared chocolate rabbits.
Tabboule welcomes visitors to enjoy a fragrant and colorful spread of Middle Eastern eats, with familiar dips such as hummus and baba ghannouj leading into entrees of chicken shawarma and spiced Armenian sausages. Dancers twist and turn as diners munch on kabobs and sautéed eggplant, recreating the atmosphere of the faraway Levant without dusting the restaurant floor with dirt from ancient Phoenicia.