Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

I’m always on the hunt for good Thai food in northern Bergen County, and so far the best and most consistent meals that I’ve eaten have come from Pimaan Thai Restaurant in Emerson. Traditional Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five flavor profiles – hot, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter(sometimes). As much as I like Thai cuisine, I happen to not like hot and spicy foods, which are often associated with the different types of red and green Thai curries. I also happen to not like the curry spice (despite considering myself a foodie), but if that’s a key element that makes your palate crave Thai food, Pimaan Thai has an extensive selection of curries on their menu, all of which can be moderated per your prefence of heat.

Spiciness aside, I love the combination of sweet, sour, and salty, and Pimaan Thai Restaurant manages to achieve perfection with this triangle of flavors in many of their dishes. Perhaps the most common Thai dish is Pad Thai, and Pimaan’s Pad Thai is spectacular. They serve this dish with a lemmon wedge, which you must squeeze over your noodles before eating to tie in the sour element. I’ve had my fair share of Pad Thai over the years, but what keeps me ordering Pimaan’s version is the way the flavors don’t fully come through until your second or third bite. The flavor triangle that I love so much is mellow, which I find to be dangerously addicting. I always promise myself that I’ll leave a portion for leftovers, but then I end up eating the whole dish anyway.

Pimaan Thai also happens to have an incredible ginger sauce. Listed under the entrees section of the menu, you can order the ginger sauce with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, squid, scallops, or a mixed seafood comination. The ginger flavor is added to an oyster sauce base and cooked with mushrooms and scallions. You may be thinking to yourself that you can get this at the Chinese place around the corner, but wait until you try this dish. The ginger flavor is powerfully fresh, making a spicy-sweet explosion in your mouth. Unfortunately, Pimaan Thai does not serve their entrees with the traditional jasmine rice, but they do have the healthier brown rice option, which I prefer anyway.

I’ve found that many of the Thai restaurants around this part of the county don’t have Mee Krob on their menus. Well not only does Pimaan Thai have Mee Krob, but the portion is huge and it’s served to crispy, sticky perfection. As I said before, I’m not too keen on spicy foods, but I love Pimaan’s Tom Kha Gai soup. To me, this soup is the perfect culmination of the five flavor profiles. I also love the Thai Salad. You may be wondering why I would waste my money on a salad from a Thai restaurant, but once you taste the unique flavor of the peanut dressing, you’ll understand why.

Pimaan Thai Restaurant is located on Kinderkamack Road in Emerson, just north of the Oradell border. There is parking in the back, but drivers beware…the lot is very cramped and when the restaurant is busy (which is often) it’s difficult finding a spot yet alone maneuvering into one. Ironically, I have never eaten a sit-down meal at Pimaan Thai, but as a true testament to spectacular cuisine, the food is always fresh, hot, and tasty by the time I get home and dig in.

So whether you’re in the mood for take-out or you need to make dinner plans with friends, Pimaan Thai is the perfect place to get your Thai food fill. It’s conveniently located in the center of northern Bergen County, the menu is huge, and did I mention that it’s a BYOB? Try Pimaan out for yourself and you’ll see why I think this is the best Thai food around.

Here is the restaurant’s contact information:

79 Kinderkamack Road, Emerson

Tel: (201) 967-0440 or (201) 967-0545

And here is a copy of the menu:

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I was recently told a story (by my mom of all people) involving a young lady, Olive Garden, leftovers, and an STD. I don’t want to get into specifics because this particular story is rather grotesque, but I’ll let you use your imagination. After doing some Internet research, I determined that there’s a high likelihood of this story being an urban myth, but it got me thinking – why would anyone in Bergen County dine at the Olive Garden when we’re surrounded by so many authentic Italian restaurants?

I personally have always been a skeptic of the Olive Garden. I dined at the Ramsey location when it first opened and was very underwhelmed by my meal. I had the Sampler Italiano for my appetizer, and everything on that platter tasted like (and had the texture of) recently defrosted freezer food. For my entrée I had crab-stuffed ravioli, and while the menu said the ravioli was stuffed with lump crabmeat, it tasted exactly like crabmeat from a can. Needless to say, I haven’t dined at the Olive Garden since my unfortunate gastronomical experience that evening several summers ago.

If you find yourself in the mood for eggplant rollatini or veal bolognese, here are some of Bergen County’s real Italian restaurants:

  • Aldo’s in Wyckoff
  • Radicchio, La Piazza, and Marcellos in Ridgewood
  • Baci Italian Grill and The Mountain House in Westwood
  • Solaia and Café Italiano in Englewood
  • Paisano’s in Rutherford
  • Sorrento in East Rutherford

…and the list goes on. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop in your car and drive the 20 miles to Little Italy in New York, where you can enjoy some of the best and most authentic Italian cuisine on the East Coast!

So the next time you’re craving Italian, avoid the unlimited wilted salad, greasy breadsticks, and substandard entrees by patronizing one of Bergen County’s wonderful genuine Italian restaurants. Let’s leave those mediocre Olive Garden meals to the folks in the Midwest.

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I found a taste of Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Israel in a little store-front restaurant in Ridgewood. Located on North Broad Street across from the railroad tracks, Mediterraneo embodies the true essence of – you guessed it – Mediterranean cuisine. I went there for dinner a few weeks ago with some close friends and the food was fresh and delicious, the ambience was vibrant, and the service was excellent.

The restaurant is very small…almost cramped (which would be my only complaint). There’s also patio seating in the front, but we opted for a table inside because you never know when a stray thunderstorm will roll through during the summer months. We did make a reservation, which I highly suggest. Our reservation was for 8:30 on a Saturday night, and the restaurant stayed packed until 10:30. So if you show up and put your name on the waiting list, you may not be eating until very late.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a smiling hostess and seated promptly. Like most of the restaurants in Ridgewood, Mediterraneo is a BYOB. It wouldn’t be a Mediterranean meal without a glass (or two or three) of red wine. Our bottle was opened before we could ask, which probably wasn’t a good idea because we were drinking and chatting away, barely paying attention to the menu. But our waitress was very patient, checking up on us every ten minutes or so to see if we were ready to order.

Thirty minutes later, we finally got to the menu, which has a large selection of salads and tapas as well as main-courses. We ordered a few tapas items and a salad to share amongst the table. First came out a hummus and tzatziki platter served with unlimited fresh, warm pita. The hummus was so tasty and the tzatziki was refreshingly cool and perfectly infused with garlic and dill.

While we were leisurely eating our first course of tapas, the salad was brought out. It consisted of incredibly fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and crispy romaine lettuce, all tossed in a flavorful vinaigrette. The portion was huge, and between the three of us, there was still some left over. Shortly after the salad was served, our third item came out – warmed Greek cheese. My friends and I are cheese fanatics, so this was the highlight of our meal. The cheese was goat based, but simpler in flavor and thicker in consistency. It was drizzled in honey and served in wedges. Needless to say, the cheese was demolished in under five minutes. And what meal would be complete without dessert? So we shared a vanilla-infused crème brulée topped with a caramel drizzle. That, too, was demolished ever so quickly.

After our fresh and tasty meal, we continued chatting while finishing our second bottle of wine. The waitress was very kind and didn’t bring us our check until we requested it. When I go out to eat, especially with friends, I try to forget about the prices and focus on enjoying good food that I didn’t cook. So I was absolutely floored when the bill was under $50 for the three of us. But after realizing what we had ordered, it made sense. I was just pleased to leave the restaurant with a full wallet after having eaten a delicious and memorable meal with great friends.

So the next time you’re craving fresh Mediterranean food, I highly recommend Mediterraneo. Be sure to make a reservation, and be prepared for a simply delicious meal.

Here is Mediterraneo’s contact information:

23 N Broad St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
(201) 447-0022

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