Lunching At: Bar Cara in Bloomfield

There are a lot of really good restaurants in our area.  Often times, many go overlooked – but not by Hot From The Kettle®.  I recently had an awesome lunch at Ryan DePersio’s Bar Cara in Bloomfield. 

I started out with a little antipasti of grilled octopus with shaved sunchokes, and tomato vinaigrette ($12).  The crisp sunchoke, also referred to as Jerusalem artichoke – has a crisp texture of an apple, the color of gingerroot and a somewhat rooty, water chestnut flavor.   Dressed with tangy, crisp vinaigrette, and laid on topped of charred octopus, it was a fresh and satisfying opening course.

For all those who didn’t know, take heed: Bar Cara makes great pizza! The dough at Bar Cara undergoes a 24-hour cold ferment – like any great pizza dough should – and has a nice flavor profile that is noticeable and a light lift.  I enjoyed Ryan’s Pie which is topped with sauce, ricotta salata, house cured-pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a sprinkle of chive. This pizza is everything a pie should be.

Bar Cara also offers an eclectic selection of Panini’s – some Italian, like veal cutlet ($9) or the mortadella with grilled broccoli rabe and whipped ricotta ($9) – and others worldly, like the grilled shrimp, avocado and cucumber Panini ($10) that is mildly spicy, creamy, grilled, and thanks to the magic of the cucumber – refreshing as well!   An absolute 10 on the Panini scale.   The Panini is served with a choice of organic greens or herbed Parmigianino fries.

Then, there’s the Burger Americano priced at a very reasonable $10. Much has been said about burgers in New Jersey.   I have my own personal favorite, but Ryan’s ranks right up there with the best. 

Bar Cara uses a special blend of beef, brisket, short rib, and sirloin. And can we say, toothsome? Cooked to perfect New York medium, which is arguably New Jersey rare – this burger has got its act together.  When the burger arrives at your place, it brings with it the unmistakably aroma of good beef.  It’s topped with a big, thick slice of melted Vermont white cheddar, grilled red onions, and a slice of tomato.  Served on a sesame specked brioche bun from Calandra’s, the bun is the perfect vessel for soaking up all that juicy, beefy goodness! A bucket of crisp herb Parmesan fries accompanies the Burger Americano with parsley, tarragon, chives, and oregano.  If you’re a burger connoisseur, give this one a bite – you will not be disappointed.

Of course there are desserts, like the Pignoli Tart with Mascarpone Whipped Cream, and the outstanding homemade gelato.  The pumpkin is perfect for autumn, and the pistachio is a leap above most other gelato, and is chock-fullo’ a big, crisp, flavorful pistachios. The best cold pistachio dessert I’ve ever had.

In addition to the regular lunch menu, Bar Car also has the Express Lunch, which offers any salad and pizza for $12, or any burger and beer for $12.  Parking at Bar Cara is very easy, but if you don’t have time to make the run, Bar Cara also offers delivery Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm for $20 minimum orders.  My tip:  get a couple of those pies and consider it done!

According to DePersio, “we’re trying to do something simple – not reinvent the wheel.”  And after all, simple is good- when done well.  To quote the great philosopher, L.L. Cool J, Bar Cara is “doin’ it, and doin’ it and doin’ it well.”

Let me know your favorite lunch spot in comments!

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