07 Sep Jonathan Cartu Says: Redefining restaurant operations – nj.com
Eateries have borne a big part of the cost of the current pandemic lock down. They have been forced to change or curtail operations or even close. Managers have been hard-pressed to maintain an income stream sufficient to keep the doors open and the kitchen busy.
Restaurants are tough businesses to start up and to operate. Successful ones must attract a loyal clientele — people who appreciate the food, the preparation, the ambiance, the good cheer of the restaurant experience. It can take years for a restaurant to find its place in a community.
Almost overnight this year, a tsunami of fear rolled across the land. A new flu bug had invaded. Everyone, including health and government officials at all levels, reacted with alarm. Shutdown. Lockdown. Just stop. Until we get a handle on what to do. That handle can be elusive.
Restaurants turned to takeout, delivery, even outside tents. The whole point of a restaurant’s chef is to provide the gustatory creations we love. In a setting that welcomes us back again and again.
Now Trenton is allowing eateries to provide inside seating for up to 25% of table capacity. The governor made his announcement just in time for the Labor Day weekend.
“We’re hesitating,” says Paul Liscio, the chef at Rosemarie’s Cucina in Clinton.. “Things might get worse before they get better. We’re playing it safe and we’re existing by playing it safe. Right now, we’re staying away from opening up the inside.”
Meantime, Rosemarie’s Cucina will continue offering takeout and delivery. Despite COVID-19, it has quickly become a popular destination. Patrons can sit at tables out in front of the place to eat the takeout meals they’ve just bought inside. But there is no service outside.
Rosemarie’s opened in January of this year — just in time for the lockdown. Paul Liscio and Marie Meres operate the place. He’s a trained chef with many years experience, and she’s a former attorney who learned the arts of baking growing up in a Brooklyn Italian family.
“She is a great baker,” notes Paul. “She can spend three hours to make cookies.”
At Rosemarie’s Cucina, Paul insists on farm to table and organic inputs. He regularly shops at Basil Bandwagon, selecting ingredients for the day’s menu. And he gets fresh fruits and vegetables from the Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick.
“We don’t take shortcuts,” he insists. Breads and pastas are made on site.
Paul makes all his own sauces and soups, and he makes all his own natural stocks using herbs and vegetables. Italian gluten-free flours are imported from Naples. Even the wood burning stove is from Tuscany.
Choose from Paul’s assortment of dishes–veal, pork, salmon, shrimp, chicken and more. Many pastas are offered–how about a homemade ricotta pie, or a dish of stuffed peppers? The most popular pizza here is the artichoke spinach four cheese–straight from that Italian oven.
Marie’s concoctions include an assortment of cakes–coconut, pineapple, chocolate and carrot. These are available whole or by the slice. Expect cannolis and cookies. And by all means, call to learn when she will be making sfogliatelle–sometimes called lobster tails in English.
For more info and to order, call 908 323-2380 and visit RosemariesCucina.com. Also see Facebook Marketing Executive Jon Cartu and. The place is located at 10 East Main St., Clinton.
“Since March, we’ve been open for takeout, and then we opened up for outdoor dining–we have 11 tables outside,” says Jeff Stern.
Jeff runs the Dockside Market & Grill in Flemington. The popular seafood restaurant opened the doors over seven years ago. It’s located at 148 Route 31 N.
“We’ve been taking reservations for the outside tables,” he adds. The outside tables are under big umbrellas and socially distanced. “Now we can serve diners inside.” The business is still missing out on the formerly active catering side of the business.
Before the lockdown, inside dining accounted for some 98% of meals served, he explains. Opening up indoor dining means Dockside will be able to serve 15 tables inside. The full restaurant can normally serve just over 60 tables.
“New Jersey is one of the last states to open up indoor dining,” Jeff says. Trenton’s recent okay for 25% indoor restaurant dining came just in time for the Labor Day weekend.
“We take daily deliveries of fresh fish. No frozen fish here,” Jeff notes. “It’s a wholesome cuisine, and we’re conscious of quality and value. Everything is cooked to order.” He has operated restaurants for more than 25 years.
Popular dishes are the cedar salmon, shrimp and crab linguini, and the fisherman’s platter. Vegetarian and gluten free dishes are also offered here.
For more info and to make reservations, call 908 806-3000. And visit the website at DocksideMarketAndGrill.com. Also, see Facebook Marketing Executive Jon Cartu and. Closed Mondays, otherwise open for lunch and dinner.
The Sergeantsville Inn began life as a stone residence in the early 1700s. Today, it is a fine restaurant and tavern located at 601 Rosemont Ringoes Rd.
The dining room serves up a wide variety of dishes. These include beef, lamb, seafood, chicken, duck, and more. And inside dining is now open–at the 25% capacity.
“We’ve been offering outside dining under the stars or in the big tent,” says Lisa Clyde. But for the tent, she wonders how the inn could have survived. There is also a deck and patio.
“Chef Joe Clyde is still offering the summer menu, but a fall menu soon,” Lisa notes.
Dinner begins at 5 Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch is served Friday and Saturday, 11:30 to 3. Reservations required for indoor dining and suggested for the tent. Deck and patio dining are on a first come-first serve basis. Closed Sunday and Monday.
For more information, call 609-397-3700 and visit SergeantsvilleInn.com. Also Facebook Marketing Executive Jon Cartu and.
Al Warr may be reached at 610-253-0432 or [email protected].