CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Arts & Entertainment
The Dining Table
Highest Rating: 4 chef hats
420 Adelphia Road, Farmingdale, NJ, (732) 9385159
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
FARMINGDALE – I’ve ordered salmon everywhere from Boston, Poughkeepsie, Belmar to Farmingdale as a challenge to see if any restaurant can top the meltinyour mouth variety available at the Armani Café on trendy Newbury Street in Beantown.
While “Our House” did not surpass Armani’s, it certainly weighed in as a contender and the history behind this quaint restaurant is just as flavorful.
“Our House” dates back to before the American Revolution when it was built by George Marriner as “Marriner’s Tavern.” Rickety floors and low beamed ceilings make diners feel as if they are a part of a historical backdrop. Maybe George Washington made reservations for two with Martha?
Navy blue wallpaper with large Colonial flowers in warm tones frames small inviting windows. Seating is comfortable and glasses are always refilled without asking.
Family friendly is one way to describe “Our House,” welcoming restless toddlers with piles of paper and crayons to busy themselves while doing everything possible to accommodate the adults at the table. Our waitress, Dianne, was attentive to all details – being certain that separate checks were available to omitting whipped cream from my goddaughter’s mound of cherry Jello due to her dairy intolerance.
Appetizers, which range from $3.95 to $8.95, include Sautéed Mussels Fisherman’s Style ($ 6.95) with New Zealand Green Shell Mussels sautéed in garlic, onions, basil and tomatoes with a heavenly white wine sauce. Grilled Shrimp and Andouille Sausage boasts enormous Gulf Shrimp and the spicy sausage grilled over a delicate angel hair pasta, topped with a Cajun Beurre Blanc ($ 8.95).
Dinner Selections offered a lovely Chicken and Broccoli soup or the “Our House” variety with lentils and ditalini pasta. While the ditalini was slightly too soft, the earlier soup was flawless and not on the salty side as I originally feared.
A garden salad was also included with all Dinner Selections, offering a
wide and tempting variety of untraditional dressings. However, I would have expected a more organic selection of greens for the caliber of
this restaurant instead of the romaine pieces. In addition, vegetables topping the salad did not include tomatoes, only a slice of cucumber.
Roast Breast of Tom Turkey ($ 14.95) tops the “Chicken and Farm Fare” on the “Our House” menu. The slowroasted turkey is tender and melts in your mouth. The cranberry sauce, not to be mistaken for the canned variety, is fresh with plump bits of the berry, warm and slightly sweet.
One Pound Boneless New York Sirloin ($ 19.95), which was grilled to the diner’s preference with plain, Cajun or Au Poivre seasonings, served up a cut of meat so generous, it guaranteed leftovers.
Stuffed Flounder Filet ($ 18.95) was served upon a delicious bed of fresh, wilted spinach. The filet was without bones, the Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Stuffing was sans shells. Perfectly seasoned and not overloaded with bread crumbs, the stuffing complimented the flounder ideally.
Onto the Sautéed Salmon in a Potato Crust ($ 17.95). I always appreciate a waitress who does not lie to me. Dianne was superb in this area. When asked if the salmon would include that unsightly layer of skin at the bottom of the filet, she said, “Oh, no.” She was right.
Julienne potatoes wrapped the filet and kept the salmon warm and tender on the edges of the filet. However, as I proceeded toward the center of the salmon, it became chewier. A delectable dill sauce rivaled the one at the
A Review of Local Concerts
David Palladino’s Tosca at New Jersey Performing Arts Takes Off, But With A Few Minor Hitches
By DAVID PALLADINO
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
NEWARK — The talent of Maestro Alfredo Silipigni has placed not only himself but also the New Jersey State Opera into a position of prominence on the scene of worldwide opera. The successful presentation of Tosca this past weekend at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark featured some fantastic vocal performances, but centered in great measure on the prowess of the orchestra.
Tosca, the grand tragic opera by Giacomo Puccini, was first performed in Rome on January 14, 1900. The opera is host to a vast array of emotion and passion, which typifies the music of Puccini. The opera is set in Rome during the eventful days of the French invasion of Italy and tells the tale of love, jealousy, stabbings, shootings and suicide.
The performance featured Roman tenor Gianluca Zampieri as Cavaradossi, Moscow native soprano Olga Romanko as Tosca, and veteran baritone from Syracuse, N. Y. Ned Barth as Scarpia. Local artists featured included the Children’s Opera Chorus of Scotch Plains.
Gianluca Zampieri, who sung the main male tenor role of Cavaradossi, made his American debut with these performances. The early aria Recondite armonia demonstrated that while possessing an accurate and agile voice, he has yet to develop the full, round and more robust tenor quality which he will need to propel him further.
For example, his lyric instrument was of moderate size, which lacked the focus to cut through the orchestra at times and his upper register often became confined in the throat. The aria E lucevan le stelle was flat and mechanical.
The fine performance of Principal clarinet William Shadel supported by the orchestra took up the slack and infused the needed emotion into the piece.
Russian soprano Olga Romanko, who has appeared opposite Placido Domingo in recent Mexico City performances, was pure delight. She possessed the necessary vocal qualities and female auctoritas to convincingly portray the dramatic, manic role of Tosca. Highlights included a Visse d’arte, which should have received an encore.
The demanding dramatic interpretations required of the role was well done; including the soaring leap she took off the castle wall as her final statement on earth.
Ned Barth, who performed the role of Scarpia, has a strong voice with clear command of what he was doing. In fact, his current repertoire consists of over 40 leading baritone roles. Barth showed a reassuring consistency of sound which gleamed over other male voices. It’s a shame that he had to get stabbed to death with a pair of scissors.
Set designer Robert Little presented an aesthetically pleasing and convincing world. Stage settings and props
were well done, especially the interior of the Church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, where Act I takes place. Staging, general dramatic interpretation and casting of extras were not the strong points of the performance.
The unconvincing limp of Robert Wagner certainly did not live up to the strength of his voice.
The authoritative and honed orchestra sound was a major highlight to the evening. Maestro Silipigni, who has been directing
the orchestra for over 30 years, possesses an impressive conducting form that is reminiscent of Toscanini, but a style and result
which is very different. The central strength of Silipigni is the wide berth which he allows his experienced orchestra to do what they have to do. The musicians show a great deal of confidence in him and his musical ideas, which are very straightforward.
The individual musicians possess extraordinary talent as demonstrated by a beautifully executed solo by cello section Principal Ellen Hassman at the beginning of Act III. The Maestro was responsive to the many
instances of rubato throughout the lyrical, Italian, stanzas.
Additionally, orchestral volume was appropriate throughout and projected well into Prudential Hall.
The few musical incongruities came when the dramatic tempo, which begins the finale to Act I, was initiated a bit on the harried side. A harriedness which thankfully settled in to a slower, organic respectability upon the entrance of a chorus who would not be pushed. The chorus did however, have trouble projecting through the orchestra at times.
The Children’s Opera Chorus of Scotch Plains directed by Mary Lu Farrell, came through with a performance which no doubt made all of Scotch Plains and their surrounding area proud.
Opera is truly a grand, demanding undertaking; orchestra, vocalists, chorus, tempi, sets, costumes etc. Great performances must combine all of these elements in a successful fashion. Most of them were in place for this fine performance this past weekend at NJPAC.
Children’s Opera Chorus of Scotch Plains led by Mary Lu Farrell SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS… Two musicians at Terrill Middle School in Scotch Plains, Kaitlin Carman, center left, and Stephanie Reed, accepted Ferro Scholarships on May 23 at the school’s spring band concert. Terrill Band Booster CoPresident Susan Villas, left, and Vice President Bruce Smith bestowed the awards, which include cash for musical training. Ferro Scholarships commemorate Terrill musician David Ferro, an eighth grader who died in 1995.
Last Night of Ballyhoo
Try-Outs Organized At Community Players
WESTFIELD – Westfield Community Players (WCP) will hold open auditions for Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo on Monday, June 19, and Wednesday, June 21, at 7: 30 p. m. in the WCP theater at 1000 North Avenue, West in Westfield.
Directed by Joe Vierno, this comedy with dramatic undertones is the story of a southern Jewish family, getting ready for Ballyhoo, the social event of the season. The production takes place against a backdrop of the premiere of
Gone With the Wind in 1939. The following parts are sought for casting: Adolph Freitag – Businessman, late 40s ·Boo Levy – Adoph’s older sister ·Reba Freitag – Sisterinlaw, mid40s. ·Lala Levy, Boo’s daughter, 20s. ·Sunny Freitag, Reba’s daughter, 20s. ·Joe Farkas, Adolph’s office assistant, 20s. ·Peachy Weil, Male visitor from Lake Charles, 20s.
For more information on the auditions or the show, please call Mr. Vierno at (908) 6541387. The show opens on Saturday, October 14, and continues October 20, 21, 27, 28, and November 3 and 4 at 8 p. m. with all tickets at $12.
Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, through a grant administered by the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.
more traditional spread of potato chips, pretzels, assorted chips and soda were also available for those who favored more American choices.
Regarding the overall atmosphere, Ms. Kolibaba said, “The crowd was ‘up’ all night, literally. Around 11 p. m., I overheard a woman talking on the telephone to her husband: ‘It’s too close, I’m not coming home. Let the dog out for me. ’”
She added that attendees were “tenacious” in holding to the belief that Ms. Connelly would be victorious, adding that when CBS News and New 12 New Jersey announced that they were calling Mike Lapolla the winner, “the Connelly camp got on the Internet, went out to listen to their car radio, or grabbed newcomers as they came to learn what the news was from other voting districts.”
Ms. Kolibaba concluded that quite a crowd remained when Ms. Connelly came out to make her victory speech around 12: 45 a. m.
Susan M. Dyckman, who remained at Lapolla Headquarters at L’Affaire in Mountainside, admitted that while she didn’t spend much time partaking in the menu offered there, she did recall seeing some cheese, crackers, fruit and vegetables. She said she would give the food selection 2.5 chef hats.
As for the atmosphere, Ms. Dyckman said the evening started out averaging 4 chef hats, but took a sharp dive to 1 chef hat as the night drew to a close.
Fred Rossi, who manned the fort at the headquarters for Republican Senatorial victor Bob Franks at Kenilworth Inn, said he recalled cut cheese squares of Muenster and cheddar, small pretzels and potato chips being offered to attendees.
However, Mr. Rossi reported that the spread was “nothing extravagant” An open bar was offered, he said, and quite crowded throughout the evening with sodas at $2 each. Overall, Mr. Rossi gave the evening 2 chef hats.
At Kean for Congress Campaign Headquarters at the ItalianAmerican Club in Scotch Plains, Political and Government Editor Paul J. Peyton said that the food was not catered like many of the other
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Armani Café and the crisp peas still in their pods were sensational as an accompaniment to this dish.
Finally, Sautéed Shrimp with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat was also a generous portion. A sherry cream sauce streaming through penne pasta cooked al dente tickled the palate. The Gulf Shrimp were plentiful and mushrooms laced the dish appropriately.
If you are intending to travel toward Atlantic City and would like to enjoy a taste of history with your meal, visit “Our House” and you are sure to feel right at home.
parties. Finger foods and a “chip and dip” spread were the offerings, according to Mr. Peyton.
Adding that the selection was “not lavish,” as he had originally anticipated at the Club, he said he would give the food selection 2 chef hats, being generous.
“He did not have a television. People were leaving to watch television down the street,” he opined. He also added that the music was poor, giving the atmosphere 1 chef hat.
Suzette F. Stalker, who was stationed at the Holiday Inn in Springfield for the Weingarten Campaign said that the first table greeted attendees with a selection of fruit, cocktail snacks such as miniature hotdogs and egg rolls with dipping sauce. The second table, she said, offered fresh vegetables and generous pitchers of soft drinks.
Although she did not think that it was associated with the campaign, Ms. Stalker said that a separate bar service was also present.
In the end, she gave Weingarten’s food selections 3 chef hats and calling the atmosphere “pleasant,” gave it 3 chef hats as well.
After attending Mike Ferguson’s campaign headquarters at The Willows in Green Brook, Brian Johnson said regarding the food and atmosphere, “Nice. I’d give it a 4!” He reported that the food “looked good” and an open bar was provided.
“It looked like they pulled out all the stops and the food looked great!” he added. “I was enjoying the ragtime band! I love the banjo!”
While reporters did not attend the campaign headquarters of Republican Congressional hopeful Patrick Morrisey, Mr. Peyton said the festivities were held at the Steak & Ale in Mountainside.
Democratic Congressional hopeful Joel Farley held his campaign homebase at home.
Maryanne Connelly’s Primary Bash Offers Best Menu of All
If it’s happening in Arts & Entertainment, You’ll find it here! The Carolyn KlingerKueter
Music Studio . . .
Telephone: (908) 233-9094 Fax: (908) 317-0588
• Piano Lessons for Children & Adults
• Piano Preparatory Classes
• Kindermusik Beginning ®
Brochures Available Upon Request
(ages 18mos.3 years) • Kindermusik for the
Young Child ®
Email: ckkms@ att. net Website address: www. carolynmusic. com
Ciao! Mi chiamo Francesco and I am the owner of Mezzogiorno Ristorante in Scotch Plains. Per piacere, come to taste la mia cucina! La mia cucina è la cucina di mia nonna è mia mamma.
My grandmother and my mother are no longer here, but they left me a culinary treasure that I want to offer you.
Questa cucina offre the best authentic Italian products treated with care and passion in our kitchen.
Arrivederci a presto! P. S. Wouldn't it be nice to learn la bella lingua italiana while dining?
450 Park Avenue Scotch Plains (908) 4901200
Ample parking in rear • Open 7 days for lunch and dinner Available for parties on and off the premises
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)