From Our Editors
While the sophisticated dishes at Sette Cucina Italiana are derived from simple and classic Italian flavor combinations, the culinary background of its chef, Allan Philip Russo, is decidedly more complex. His heritage draws a roadmap through central Europe; born in Switzerland, he comes from a long line of Sicilian fishermen and used to watch his aunt as she worked as a personal chef to the stars in Zürich. In the 1980s, his father, Filippo Russo, assembled the family’s recipes and moved from Sicily to America, where he established his own Italian restaurant and allowed young Allan to join him in the kitchen. Today, Allan pays homage to his Sicilian heritage by adding fresh ideas and what he refers to as a “New York City twist” to his father’s methods. His petite filet sates several senses with aromas such as green peppercorns and truffle essence, and his mediterranean gray snapper comes with a French–style tomato ratatouille. Venetian vialone nano rice transforms into risotto, which he finishes with saffron, asparagus, and parmiagiano-reggiano. In a reflection of its menu, the restaurant’s décor calls to mind European hospitality and creates an ambience deemed “chic [and] hospitable” by New Jersey Monthly. To keep it cozy, the New Jersey–based architecture firm Cerminara Architect designed a dining room that seats about 32 guests and juxtaposes elements of fine dining with rustic touches. A high, tin ceiling allows for impressive full-length windows, from which natural light illuminates sheer drapes, white tablecloths, and wrought-iron chandeliers. Therein, families, couples, and business partners raise crystal stemware in a toast to Italian culinary traditions and Galileo’s discovery of crystal stemware.