The big turkey feast is a few weeks away. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying another kind of feast before then: a special multi-course wine dinner cooked by a professional chef and served at a nearby restaurant. (No cooking or clean-up on your part — or a loved one — involved.)
Here are a few special dinners to check out. But hurry, these dinners tend to sell out quickly. Make a reservation ASAP.
Gaja Wine Dinner at Park West Tavern, Ridgewood
Chuck Russo, oenophile extraordinaire who used to own Carlo Russo’s Wine & Spirit World in Ho-Ho-Kus, is wild about Gaja wines. “In the mid-1980s Angelo Gaja taught me that the greatest complement in wine is power and elegance,” he said. “Taste and you will agree.”
Russo is hardly alone in loving Gaja wines. Gaja Winery, located in Piedmont in northwestern Italy, is considered by many to be one of the greatest winemakers in the world. Here is your opportunity to sample some Gaja wine.
The menu: Rock shrimp ceviche, Rhode Island fluke in a beurre blanc sauce, braised short ribs with crispy yukon potatoes, roasted sirloin with maitake mushrooms and assorted cheese plate. Among the wines: Idda Bianco 2020; Vistamare 2020; Rossj Bass Chardonnay 2020; and Barbaresco 2018.
When: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10
Where: Park West Tavern “Loft,” 30 Oak St., Ridgewood
Cost: $195, all-inclusive
For info and reservations: 201-444-2033 or e-mail [email protected]
Skyline Dinner Party with Chef Ariane Duarte, The Highlawn, West Orange
In September, chef-owner Ariane Duarte closed her beloved restaurant, Ariane Kitchen & Bar in Verona, after seven years. Skopos Hospitality Group, owners of Cowan’s Public in Nutley and The Barrow House in Clifton, among other gastropubs in North Jersey, have bought the place and plan to relaunch it early next year. But as promised, Duarte has not gone away for good. “I won’t disappear,” Duarte told The Record when she announced the closing. True to her word, she will cook a special dinner at the The Highlawn, which has a new owner, Anthony Frungillo, and a new executive chef, Sam Hazen.
Menu: Ariane Durate’s favorite passed hors d’oeuvres, signature dish stations, cocktails and desserts.
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 23
Where: The Highlawn (ballroom), 1 Crest Drive, West Orange
Cost: $150, includes open bar.
For info and reservations: 973-731-3463
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Snackeria II, Bodegon, Cliffside Park
If you missed Bodegon’s first special dinner, here’s your opportunity to enjoy its second. Chef Alex Piñeiro opened Bodegon, a cozy Galician restaurant, this spring as an homage to his dad and mom, who hail from Galicia, Spain. Piñeiro, who was born and raised in Ridgefield, has worked at well-loved Spanish restaurants Toro, now closed, and Huertas, both in Manhattan. His last gig was as sous chef at Ernesto’s, the critically acclaimed Basque restaurant in New York City’s Lower East Side. This special dinner is dubbed “A Night in Madrid.” Piñeiro describes Snackeria as “pintxo bar meets an izakaya.”
Menu: Skewers, mini-sandwiches, hot and cold bites, toasts. Also pitchers and porrons will be offered. Don’t know what a porron is? It’s a traditional glass wine pitcher, that was birthed in Catalonia, that erases the need for a glass; you pour out the wine aiming for your mouth. It takes skill, and some bravado.
When: From 4 to 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 13.
Where: 631 Anderson Ave., Cliffside Park
Cost: A la carte; place your order on a small sheet as you would at a raw bar.
For info and reservation: [email protected],
856-521-9135. Reservations through resy.
(Also, the day before Thanksgiving, Bogedon is having a Spanish brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the menu are churros and chocolate, eggs and chorizo, Bloody Marys, and pastries from Balthazar.)
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Cuvée Mémère Launch & Maker’s Mark Bourbon Dinner, Brasserie Mémère, Closter
Chef Thomas Ciszak of Brasserie Mémère is a bourbon-lover. He has a restaurant, Toasted Barrel in Savannah, Georgia, the menu of which consists strictly of grilled cheese sandwiches and bourbon. So it should come as no surprise that Ciszak and his wife, Evelyn, a mixologist, would make their own bourbon. The couple, co-owners of Brasserie Mémère, went to Kentucky in August and blended their own Maker’s Mark bourbon. Now they are ready to release it at a special four-course dinner with other Maker’s Mark bourbons.
By the way, if you don’t get the opportunity to taste Cuvée Mémère at the dinner, you can always stop by at the brasserie and saddle up to the bar.
The Menu: Bourbon-washed foie gras with red-wine-poached quince served with Maker’s Mark 46; pork spare ribs with an anise glaze with Maker’s Mark Cask Strength; smoked prime rib and pomme frites with Maker’s Mark Limited Release; and tarte tatin with the couple’s Cuvée Mémère.
When: 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18
Where: Brasserie Mémère, 107 Vervalen St., Closter
Cost: $96 plus a souvenir
For information and reservation: 201-660-8822; brasserie-memere.com
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Robbie Felice Dinner at The Farm on Glenwood Mountain, Sussex
This dinner takes place after Turkey Day, so you’ll have plenty of room to feast on the four-course meal Robbie Felice will prepare at The Farm on Glenwood Mountain in Sussex. Felice is the chef-owner of award-winning restaurants Viaggo in Wayne and Osteria Crescendo in Westwood. He was nominated for a James Beard Rising Chef award.
The Menu: It hasn’t yet been finalized, but it’s a four-course meal, and you can be sure it will include pork. And, of course, pasta; his restaurants serve divine housemade pasta. Felice has worked closely with owner/farmer Steve MacClean for the past few years in sourcing certified organic produce and pigs for Felice’s restaurants. “I’ve got to see what is up at the farm at that time,” Felice said. “I only use what’s on the farm.” The menu will be released a few days before the event.
Dress warmly — and, if you’d like, bring a blanket. The dinner takes place in the new dairy farm, which has heaters but can get nippy.
When: 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 6
Where: The Farm at Glenwood, 1801 County Road 565, Sussex
Cost: $175 per-person, tax and gratuity included
For info and reservations: 201-722-1900
Esther Davidowitz is the food editor for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.
Email: [email protected]