Tell me you’ve got risotto on the menu, and you’ve got me. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. Along with chocolate and eating with chopsticks and dulce de leche. And the best risotto I have had so far is from this place called The Pluckemin Inn in New Jersey. It was during one of those weekends we gave up on in the spring of this year, looking through listings on Open Table and chanced upon The Pluckemin. The criteria: proximity to where we were at the time, user reviews and Open Table points we were to earn. We had to cancel reservations at a different restaurant that night and were looking forward to having the place’s interpretation of cacio e pepe, a difficult-to-find-in-the-US pasta dish that we had in Rome months earlier, but that already did not pan out — so we had low expectations for our second option. Needless to say, we were more than pleasantly surprised at how good this restaurant experience turned out to be, giving us some of the best food we’ve ever had.
The risotto, 2nd course off a five-course prix fixe menu, was cooked perfectly. It also had perfectly cooked chicken oysters, tastefully flavored and complemented by the peas (which I don’t usually like, but works in this dish, especially texturally) among other flavors:
Organic Risotto (chicken oysters, wild mushrooms, parmesan, English peas)
In addition to the food, the service staff was outstanding. There were five, maybe even six, people designated to our table of two. All of them courteous and precise. At one point, the woman about to serve our entrees turned back to the kitchen. We were wondering why and realized she wanted to make sure she knew whose dish is what, and that she would not make a mistake. Our main server is so passionate about the food that it’s contagious, and he has every right to be. I realized, watching them while savoring my gourmet meal, when you’re in a place like that and you do not have a passion for food, you don’t belong there.
We also found out that the Executive Chef Andrew Lattanzio is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. By the time we got to the end of the meal and they gave us petit fours, we found the experience too similar to our experience at Bocuse that we thought there’s no way he isn’t, so we looked it up. The meal was outstanding, I can’t wait to go back to The Pluckemin Inn to taste their menu for the next season.
Pluckemin Inn Restaurant Rating: 9.75
Pluckemin Inn Risotto Rating: 9.75 out of 10