Jun 19, 2011

Due Mari (New Brunswick, NJ)

I'll just put it right out there and say that Due Mari probably has the most consistently fantastic food I have ever eaten. 
And paired with the comfortable ambience and extremely knowledgeable and always-accommodating staff, I will be so bold as to say it is hands down my favorite dining experience.

There are comfortable leather chairs. Clean but unfussy tables. A huge circular bar in the center of the restaurant that simply makes you want to sit down and order a drink. And stay there a very long while. 

I'm particularly enamored with Due Mari because that's where I held my October 2010 wedding reception. And it was perfect.
No catered dry salmon for this bride. Hells no. I do not exaggerate when I say the only thing I really cared about out of that whole wedding mumbo jumbo was THE FOOD. 

I picked the recently-opened Due Mari because it was a large open space that could accomodate 100 people and a dance floor (a challenge in the New Brunswick restaurant scene) and the food is just incredible.

As the name suggests, the specialty here is seafood. However, I dare you to find something on the menu that isn't excellent. The pastas are all homemade in-house and GOOD GOSH they are so good it will drive you crazy for days thinking back on the orgasmic meal you just consumed.

I've eaten there quite a number of times, including the wedding, and have never been disappointed.*

Last Sunday for dinner with my in-laws I enjoyed the following:
Fried calamari. Oh. Yes. Comes with marinara and a lemon cremai and it's perfectly crisped and not at all chewy and I promise you will reallllllllllly like it.
Even this very basic mixed greens salad tasted so light and fresh...perfect way to pretend you are being healthy (post fried calamari).
The brilliant goddess of a waitress actually encouraged us to split entrees... they could split anything, and serve it on these adorable little duo plates. So those of us who can NEVER make up their minds when it comes to menu selections had the glorious opportunity to actually have 2 things.
The shrimp and lobster ravioli with artichokes, leeks and herb butter was very good.
But the sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto, fava beans, and baby greens was out of this WORLD.
These two choices were the perfect balance of seafood and pasta.

(AND - they can also do a FOUR-WAY pasta split. So, if you and your three dining parters are game, the kitchen will happily give you each a plate with 4 little bowls of pasta so you can taste everything. Perfection.)
This is the Torta de Limone, with lemon curd and whipped cream and raspberry sauce. Oh yes. It is perfect.

Other things that are AMAZING:

- The branzino. The accompanying veggies change, but it's light and delicate and you will actually have room for dessert after.

- The organic roast chicken. It was on the fall menu. I don't even LIKE chicken much, but this birdie was mighty good. Perfectly tender and falls off your fork and into your mouth and sends you right into ecstasy.

- The garganelli pasta. If ever there was a perfect pasta dish, this is it. Served with parma prosciutto, mushrooms, peas, and white truffle butter... holy mother. This stuff is incredible. Always a favorite. (Let's just say I ordered the Branzino at my own wedding, and then spent half the night eating the garganelli off my mother's plate)

- The chocolate fondue (pictured at the very top). A pot of perfectly rich chocolate to dip, with homemade (incredible) graham crackers, homemade marshmallows, strawberries and bananas. Perfect for sharing.

- The Budino di Cioccolato. Not your mama's lava cake, that's for sure. Warm chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow, with caramel and vanilla gelato. Yes. That's right. And the cake is only mildly sweet, making room for the sweetness of all those heavenly accoutrements.

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