The DePersio's have brought their family recipe for success to Newark!
Mr. Hot and I recently had the pleasure of dining at NICO Kitchen + Bar located at the NJPAC on what may be the most picturesque corner in Newark. We enjoyed many dishes that demonstrate NICO's "Italian without borders" approach to cuisine.
The stand outs of the evening undoubtedly included the Trio of Tartares: salmon, beef and tuna. The Scottish Salmon with lime ailoi absolutely popped with bright flavors, the decadent truffled beef (my personal favorite) was an outstanding example of earthy, meaty, goodness, and the Yellowfin Tuna with yuzo and black sesame seeds was delicate, clean and slightly nutty.
This was followed by a bold, colorful Beet Pinwheel salad with light goat cheese snow, red wine syrup, and Mache. The snow effect does wonders for spreading the tangy goat cheese flavor throughout the dish - a welcomed and pleasant presentation.
But if it ain't broke, don't fix it! At NICO, Chef DePersio adheres to this adage, and reprises the "Fascino" ricotta gnocchi, which he cooked up in the Kettle Kitchen "back in the day." ;) Happily, the gnocchi are still light as air, and sauced with a flavorful with sweet sausage Bolognese, rife with fennel and just a bit of cumin.
The Porcini dusted sea scallops with crispy eggplant hinted at a subtle Mediterranean influence, in line with the "Italian without borders" concept. The pepperonata and red pepper emulsion provided the perfect acid to the richly sweet scallop.
A variation on "meat and potatoes" arrived in the form of a perfectly cooked thyme roasted beef tenderloin, plated with Yukon Gold rosti, Swiss chard, and bone marrow-salmoriglio (a pungent herb and olive oil based condiment). The flavors were familiar, the texture toothsome, and along with the Jelu Estate 2009 Pinot Noir we were sipping - just plain satisfying.
The desserts at NICO are exceptional, specifically the rum raisin bread pudding with caramel pecan gelato pictured below.
If have neither the time, nor appetite for a full-on dining room experience, the bar at NICO offers the perfect opportunity to hole-up with with a cocktail and small plate while slipping out, or awaiting the next meeting or show.
I bumped into NICO's Chef de Cuisine, Adam Rose (pictured left), and Ryan DePersio in the capacious kitchen. Click play for a peek behind the scenes! And visit the Gallery for more pics!