Great Restaurants

Duffenetti’s – Wildwood, NJ. STOP BY!

What’s better than spending some time during the Summer at the Jersey shore? The answer is finding a restaurant at the Jersey shore that’s so good you need to write home about it! That’s what Duffinetti’s is! This restaurant has a rich history and an even richer following! I don’t blame the following that this restaurant gets but that’s only just the start of it!

Duffenetti’s has been making Italian goodies starting in the 1960’s. 1965 to be exact. In the many decades, the restaurant has been an Asselta family staple. In the 70’s and at the moment, the gracious owner is Trish Asselta,  Duffy and Mary Asselta’s daughter. Even after closing for ten years for personal reasons, Trish knew that something was missing and in 2015, Duffenetti’s picked up a new location and has been back in business! Trish is so amazingly gracious, walking into the restaurant truly feels like walking into Nonna’s kitchen; but, that isn’t just Trish’s doing these days. Chef Stephen Quici came to Duffenetti’s in 2018 and if Duffenetti’s didn’t already have a following, Chef Stephen Quici added to it, for sure!

Chef Stephen Quici is out of this world. Culinary-trained, his food is amazing and the amount of love and hard work that he puts into his dishes back in the kitchen is beyond obvious! Quici has only elevated an already solid restaurant. He’s brought some amazing recipes and his dishes really shine.

My family and close friends have visited the restaurant many times already and no one’s stopping anytime soon. I had the pleasure of visiting Duffenetti’s last week and it won’t be my last. Trish does a wonderful time hiring entertainment. During my recent visit, there was a live singer who was singing amazing hits from Sinatra to Neil Diamond. It added to the wonderful atmosphere and delicious food I was about to experience! The ambiance of the room is great and you feel like you’re in an Italian restaurant but definitely still taking part of being at the Jersey Shore! Let me take you on this culinary experience I was able to partake in!

We started with long hots (don’t take the “hots” lightly, they’re insanely hot!). We also had some fresh bruschetta. I could have licked that plate clean! It was served on toasted seasoned semolina bread and also featured some fresh shaved cheese on top. We ordered a round of calamari because I don’t recommend ever going for Italian and skipping out on calamari.

Our waitress also brought us warm bread served with an olive oil filled with fresh herbs and cheese. The bread was so good our table devoured two baskets! To go with our dinner choices, a special house salad was brought out. This dressing is a Balsamic Vinaigrette but it’s a house recipe and so unique! It’s sweeter than what I expected but in a great way! You can take home a bottle while you’re at the restaurant or even order online and I highly suggest it!

As for our dinners, everyone was so happy with our dinners! I ordered chicken marsala and had it served over a bed of angel hair, a favorite Italian dish of mine over my absolute favorite pasta. It was so good that I ate the ENTIRE thing! I ALWAYS bring home leftovers. I try to have some self-control and always look forward to a second helping but, I.JUST.COULDN’T.STOP. I finished it and even wanted more!
marsala

My fiance’ had a chef’s special of Eggplant Parm with “the best gravy ever”. He enjoyed it a lot! Gravy is definitely a very subjective topic in Italian families and he had no complaints!

We had a chef’s special bronzino sauteed with escarole, beans, and bruschetta. Another plate-licking dish!
bronzino

Also at the table was the crab cakes with a side of roasted veggies. The crab cakes are topped with a lobster bisque and had rave reviews!
crab cakes

Last but certainly not least, my father had the seafood pescatore (he’s had it every time he’s gone). It’s served with fresh shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, clams, and topped with a HUGE dungeness crab cluster. It’s sauteed in fresh Italian herbs, garlic, and white wine. It’s not only delicious but a beautiful dish!
pescatore

Also, I did not have them but I’ve been told by MANY people how amazing Chef Quici’s gnocchis are! They are said to be literally melt in your mouth pillows. Literally, my only regret of the night is not ordering these!

We were so full that there was no room for dessert but I truly believe the food was so amazingly decadent that it wasn’t even missed!

If you’re in Wildwood, or even if you’re not and don’t mind the drive, I’d highly recommend shooting down to Duffenetti’s! It’s not something that you’ll regret. AND Duffenetti’s is NOW OPEN YEAR ROUND! That’s right, you can enjoy Duffenetti’s even during Jersey’s off-season. There’s no excuse not to give it a shot! I promise, it won’t be your last and make sure to tell them I sent ya!

Duffenetti’s can be found at:
Duffinetti’s Restaurant & Lounge
4600 Pacific Ave
Wildwood, NJ 08260
Restaurant: 609-522-0002
https://duffinettis.com/

Great Restaurants

Life Is About Exploring Pasta-bilities!- Bronze Table Review

I have not done any food recommendations on the blog in quite some time. It’s definitely time for me to shoot you over some good food.

I had the pleasure of joining a few foodie friends (PhillyFoodGal, PhillyDineOut, and ToiTimeBlog) at the Bourse. The Bourse building, built in 1891, has been newly rennovated. It is a modern food hall with a little over 25 dining options. There is something there for everyone! I spotted Italian, pizza, poke, Indian, Egyptian, ice cream parlours, tea places, and even a cocktail lounge. It is a great place to go with a large party or even when you and your dining partner cannot agree on what to eat!

We went to Bronze Table which is an Italian fast casual restaurantt that prides themselves on their fresh pasta and sauces made daily. The meal you choose is made to order. You first pick your sauce (or grravy, hehe), and then your pasta shape. We got to sample some of their perfect pairings such as their vodka sauce paired with Nonna’s Ricotta Gnnochi and their Sunday Gravy (a traditional pasta sauce that is simmered for hours) and served with a secret family recipe meatball! There were so many different options and everything that we tried we really loved.

My friends really enjoyed a special on the menu that Bronze Table came up with accidently! After frying up some onions and mushrooms mixed with some gruyere cheese, Bronze Table owner, Joe and his chefs noticed that it tasted wildly similar to Philadelphia’s own Philly Cheesesteak. This pairing was so delicious. It was a wonderful mistake for sure!

My favorite for sure had to be the Wild Mushroom & Sage Ravioli which was paired with a butter parmagianna sauce. The sage and mushroom paired perfectly. I couldn’t get enough of these perfectly filled clouds of pasta.

The best part about Bronze Table besides the use of the fresh Vera Pasta, also owned by Joe, is that you can stop by and pick up some fresh pasta or sauce to cook up and eat at home. I was able to bring a little of the Sunday Gravy home for my boyfriend which he ate up instantly. I also brought home one ravioli but I ate that before he noticed it was in the takeout container lol. I will definitely go back not only to The Bourse to discover some of the other options but to Bronze Table because I really loved absolutely everything that we ate!

Visit Bronze Table at The Bourse at:
111 S Independence Mall E,
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Pictured Top Left to Right is Nonna’s Ricotta Gnocci n Vodka Sauce, Sunday Gravy with Spaghetti and Meatballs, Wild Mushroom & Sage in Butter Parmigianna Sauce, and the Gemelli with Pesto Sauce and Burrata.
Pictured Bottom Left to Right are Meatballs, their Cheesy Garlic Bread (YUM), and their Cheesteak Riggatoni Special.

A perfect pull of Spaghetti in Sunday Gravy.

Nonna’s Ricotta Gnocci in Vodka Sauce

Meatballs that were perfectly moist and extremely flavorful!

img_1140.jpgBronze Table’s Special Cheesesteak Riggatoni


Gemelli Pasta in Pesto Sauce topped with fresh Burrtata

img_1138.jpg
My favorite Wild Mushroom & Sage Ravioli in the Butter Parm sauce

Great Restaurants

Puyero – Hallaca Making Class

Do you have any Christmas traditions? Are there certain dishes that your family makes for Christmas every year? Even bigger, is there a tradition that your culture abides to every year? I’m a mutt so I try and incorporate a little of everything. I am German and Italian on my father’s side. My grandfather always brought us what he called “Klerban”. It’s like a Christmas fruit bread. I’m not sure where the name came from for him but when googled, it looks like they regularly call it Stollen. We also incorporate the Christmas Eve tradition of the seven fishes. My mother is Puerto Rican. We have coquito and Puerto Ricans often make pastilles for Christmas tradition. Pastilles are very similar to the Venezuelan hallacas which is what this post is all about!!!

There’s a great little restaurant in Philadelphia that is called Puyero Venezuelan Flavor. During this Christmas season, they are offering classes that teach how to make Hallacas and also offer some other traditional Christmas dishes like pan de jamon. I had a chance to preview the class on Monday. It was very informative, insanely delicious, and so much fun!!! There was a class on Wednesday but there are two other classes that you can sign up for. The event is $30 per person and is being held on November 28th, or December 5th. UPDATE: NOVEMBER 28TH IS ALREADY SOLD OUT.  You can get tickets HERE. Buy fast because tickets are moving quickly!

Puyero is found at:
524 South 4th Street,
Philadelphia, PA, 19147

Thanks to my foodie friend PhillyFoodGal for the invite.

Before wrapping the hallacas into the plantain leaves.


A finished hallaca that I got to sink my teeth in.


The entire loaf of pan de jamon that I could have eaten by myself given the opportunity!


This was the pan de jamon. It was the percfect mix of sweet and salty!


Their Andes hot chocolate which was so rich and thick it was unbelivable. It has cinnamon and vanilla in it!


If you aren’t available for the class, you can come in anytime from now to December 30th to try some of the hallacas!

Great Restaurants

Tsaocaa & BBQ Chicken

Hey Philly, want to get some teas and Korean fried chicken? Come try out the new Tsaocaa & BBQ Chicken place over in Chinatown.

BBQ chicken here is not what you’re thinking. You won’t find any BBQ sauce smothered chicken 🍗. BBQ stands for “best of the best quality” and that’s for certain! This is a major chain that started in Korea. I believe there are 16 locations in the US at the moment. As for the Tsaocaa Tea, this is the first location here in the US. The combination of the two chains is killer! The milk tea and other varieties compliment the spice in the chicken so well. It is definitely something to try.

I’ll start with the chicken first. The chicken is beyond crispy. It’s fried in olive oil and only one time! The meat stays crazy juicy and the coating stays super crisp. You will find a variety of sauces from mild to hot. The sauces are: red hot garlic, hot spicy, soy garlic, secret spicy, honey garlic, a more Korean authentic gang-jeong and CHEESLING. Cheesling is a mix of two powdered cheeses. Don’t knock it until you try it. I think we were all in agreeance that it was our favorite! It was different and delicious. I can’t wait until I get to try them again. All the sauces were delicious. Cheeseling was awesome and so was the Secret Spicy which is more sweet than just spicy. A little more kick than your traditional Asian Sweet Chili Sauce in my opinion.  You can also get them without sauce. I won’t call these dry because they’re not dry, they’re unsauced! They’re still amazing and have a distinct taste that seperates them from American fried chicken.  My next order will definitly be some of the secret spicy, some cheeslings, and then believe it or not, the original unsauced! I’m a big fan on bone-in wings. I feel like they give you a more satisfying tasty crunch but here, I liked all the boneless a tad bit more. I think they held the sauce better but a mixture of the two would be a perfect combo!

Unsauced Crunchy Original Olive Chicken – Look at that crunch!

Mmm, saucy

The left side is the cheesling variety. So delicious and different. The pickled radish pictured above is also a must!

Gang-jeong

There was a large variety of tea. It was the first time I’ve sampled the milk teas with cheese. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is but it’s great. It’s not a cheddar cheese kinda deal so don’t be afraid. It’s quite good. We had it on top of a blueberry drink and a mango drink.The mango drink was my favorite of the two. It was a mango puree and delicious!

My favorite drink of them all was the “More Than See You” – an iced grapefruit tea. I COULD DRINK THIS EVERY DAY. NO, I COULD BATHE IN THIS. IT WAS THE MOST DELICIOUS DRINK, EVER! It was also Patrick, the owner’s, very favorite too! We sampled so many and they were all great!

Blueberry cheese, mango cheese, grapefruit iced tea, and a peach oolong tea

Tea Menu

Looking at Grubhub and Yelp reviews, the biggest complaint seems to be the delivery service and long waits. I didn’t experience either obviously because we dined in and had as fast service as can be expected. This chicken IS MADE TO ORDER. No pre-fried soggy chicken is found here. Speaking of soggy, to be honest, it took us a half hour to take pictures and the chicken was still as crunchy as when it came out hot! And the room temp didn’t bother me at all! It was just as delicious.

Seriously, there’s a menu disclaimer!

They can be found at:
938 Race Street
Philadelphia PA 19107 (Chinatown)

You can also try out the North Wales location at:
1222 Welsh Rd Unit B7,
North Wales, PA 19454 (inside ASSI Plaza)

The locations here in Philly is only serving the olive chicken and the Tsaocaa Teas but you can find the BBQ headquarters website here: BBQ CHICKEN OMG YES! And I have yet to find a Tsaocaa website that is translated in English so I’m not sure which is a main website but for some pictures of the teas we tried you can click riiiiiighttttt… HERE! Lol.

Make sure you follow myself and the other foodies who tried out this place and check out their thoughts!:

@littleteacherbigappetite (me)
@phillyfoodgal
@215foodguy
@ingoodtastephilly

And while you’re at it, definitely do not forget to look at the restaurant instagrams!
@tsaocaabbqchicken
@tsaocaa

@bbqchickenpa

Now this is what I call a feast!

Great Restaurants

Fortune Cookie -Medford, NJ

Who doesn’t love Chinese food? Takeout is obviously amazingly convenient but sometimes you just want to sit down and be served. There aren’t a ton of great Chinese restaurants for this purpose.

I found Fortune Cookie after going to its neighbor “Cucina Illiano”. That’s a whole different review 😋😋

My boyfriend had gone and said that he used to get takeout here once in a while. We met my parents there and it’s been love ever since.

They put crunchy noodles on every table either duck sauce and homemade mustard which is spicy and delicious! I also love that they put a bowl of chinese cabbage on the table. It’s so good. I’ve tried to replicate it but mine always comes out too wet with not the exact flavor.

I’ve had their walnut chicken, generals chicken, and recently their pan fried noodles with pork. The dish was so big. I was definitely happy with this choice and I’ll be getting it again for sure.

Walnut Chicken

Now, I know I said this is a Chinese restaurant, but they serve sushi and some Japanese dishes. Their Sushi prices average about $.50 – $1.00 more. Get it anyway! It’s some of the freshest tasting sushi that I’ve had AND is the fullest roll I’ve ever had. There is so much filling by in these and they’re huge! So delicious. I usually get a roll as an appetizer and then a Chinese dish. It’s the best of both worlds.

I absolutely adore this spicy tuna roll.

You can find them at:
200 Tuckerton Road
Medford, NJ 08055
( it is the old Murphy’s shopping center)

Sorry for the darker pictures. They were from before I got my cool flash device for my iPhone during a different visit!

Now what are you waiting for? Go get some bombdotcom Chinese food!

Great Restaurants

Engimono Sushi – Philadelphia

Hey Philly natives, some good news! Fairmount finally has its very own sushi spot. I was very lucky to have been invited to try some of their best for a review last night. Thanks to Chef Cherryl for the invite! I’ll post her Instagram below for you to check out some of her awesome posts and eats! Also a HUGE thanks to Albert, Angeline, and Annie for hosting us.

If you are a friend of mine reading this, you know that my last meal on this earth would be a spicy tuna roll and a kani salad. Sushi should be my middle name. Quite honestly, my parents and boyfriend need to tell me “anything but sushi” when they ask me where I want to go. If it was up to me, it’d be sushi all day every day. So when the invite came, I knew even if I had to move my schedule around, I would do it. And I’m glad that I did just that even if I’ll be working hard to finish some Of my masters papers and grading this week! What can I say? I’m addicted to sushi. There are way worse things obviously to be addicted to.

First things first, it’s new so it’s very clean. All restaurants obviously should be clean but I won’t lie, I’ve had some of my best meals in places that may look sketchy at first. Not here. It’s bright and clean and decorated nicely. It’s modern looking with sleek white counters at the sushi bar with little glass windows to peek at the fish. Super cute! There are color changing lights in the ceiling. The shiny backsplash is awesome. I’m biased though because I have the same in my kitchen! Lol.

THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! I got to taste sooooo much. Good thing I was told to eat very little throughout my day. Either way, I would have eaten it all and worried about the tummy ache later. No seriously, that’s what I do.

We tried soooo much so I’ll highlight my favorites, appetizers first. I’ll start with the sushi pizza. A tortilla with spicy tuna, avocado, and masago drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce. I could have eaten three of these alone. The tortilla never got soggy waiting for us to start and the flavors were awesome.

Saweed salad, you either love it or hate it. I’m an in betweener since I really need to be in the mood. I had a few bites and it was good. It was served over julienned cucumbers which made it a step above the rest for me. Next time I make this for lunch, it’s going over cucumbers.

The sushi dumplings were a favorite of mine. There are only two to a plate but they’re STUFFED! We butchered them up into pieces so the six of us could try and each bite still had a lot of filling. The dumplings were filled with spicy crab, avocado, and crunch all wrapped in tuna. I’ve had these at my favorite sushi restaurant in Jersey, Kabuki, and a little birdie may have told me that Kabuki and Engimono are closely related 😉.

Now for the dinner. We had a variety of specialty rolls and sashimi. The sashimi was very fresh. I loved the white tuna. My favorite specialty roll was the Osaka roll. We aren’t doing our due diligence because we couldn’t find it on the menu so we thought maybe it was the Yazuka roll but we aren’t sure. Either way, it was awesome and I’ll point out which one it is below:

It’s the roll pictured on the left. The roll on the right was the Godzilla Roll (also yummy). Not pictured in this photo was the Romantic Roll and A 76ers Roll (Philly loves our sports).

Last but not least is the chirashi bowl we had. The fish was all fresh and the presentation was gorgeous. Some other foodies there pictured it better than I got but so good nonetheless. Engimono really puts pride in their presentation and it shows!

I can’t recommend Engimono Sushi enough. They can be found at:
1811 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia PA 19130

Make sure you follow myself and the other foodies who tried out this place and check out their thoughts!:

@littleteacherbigappetite (me)
@phillyfoodgal
@215foodguy
@ingoodtastephilly
@southphillyfoodie
@lovetwoeats

And of course, start following @engimonosushi

Great Restaurants

Famous Dave’s – Am I Really Writing This?

Ok, so let’s get things straight, I hate, no, I abhor chain restaurants. Ask anyone and you’ll know I’ll fake sick just to not go to one. But, tonight I told my boyfriend we could go anywhere he wanted. And he wanted Famous Dave’s never being there. I wasn’t thrilled but I grinned and bared it thinking, “ok, I’ll order a burger. That should be okay.” And here we go, this is about to be a good review for the only chain restaurant I’ll ever write about. I might as well make this the first post because hopefully in a year’s time, no one will go back far enough to know what I’m about to say.

IT WAS GOOD.

Okay, I said it. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed every bit of my meal.

We were told we were going to wait for 35 minutes. In my head I was thinking, “great. A wait for a place that is going to be so disappointing.” We we’re actually sat in ten so okay 👌🏽 no big deal.

We ordered a shrimp basket for the appetizer. It was pretty good. Not the best I’ve ever had but by far not the worst.

For dinner, we both got the two meat combo. I was so involved with mine when it came out, I can’t even recall what his was. I ordered the rib tips and traditional style wings in pineapple sauce.

First things first, way more rib meat than I would have gotten ordering a whole rack I feel. I’ll post my picture, there’s a ton of ribs hidden underneath the ribs you can see in it. Maybe more like a half but it was all meat. Not just a bone rib that has a bite of meat. And about 8 decent sized wings. All of it tastes awesome. I ate one wing, one rib, and two bites of each side (coleslaw, and mashed potatoes). I didn’t even get to touch my corn muffin. STUFFED. I’ll have leftovers for days lol. The coleslaw was great and I liked the mash with real pieces of red potato skins. I don’t think they were boxed.

There was obviously no room for dessert.

So there you have it, I enjoyed a chain and I won’t be obliged to go back and get the same exact thing.

And you will never hear me say a good thing about a major chain restaurant ever again.

The end.