Friday, October 2, 2009

Tell me more about food, less about decor

Few restaurants in North Jersey tell you where the food they serve comes from, perhaps fearing that if you knew, you'd run for the exit. Exceptions include Tasteatery in Fort Lee and Green Door Cafe in Tenafly.

That's one of the reason I almost always choose seafood, preferably wild-caught seafood, when I dine out with my wife and son. Where seafood is not available, I take a leap of faith, figuring one meal of mystery meat or poultry won't kill me and trusting that most restaurateurs put their customers first and profits second.

Now, The Record of Hackensack reports in its Starters feature, Bistro 55 has opened in Rochelle Park, in the space once occupied by South City Grill. Yes, this is part of the South City [Restaurant] Group, which has been the subject of nearly overwhelmingly positive stories in the newspaper since restaurant reviewer Elisa Ung slammed South City Prime in March 2008 for "too-rare steaks and rotten sushi."

In today's Better Living article about Bistro 55, writer Amy Kuperinsky tells us a great deal about the origin, or provenance, of some of the food served, quoting the chef: drug-free chicken from the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff; sea scallops from Viking Village, the fishing cooperative in Barnegat Light; and antibiotic-free veal from Vineland. Still, the restaurant serves burgers made from grain-fed -- not grass-fed -- beef.

On the very next page of the Better Living tabloid today, Ung reviews Bazzini in Ridgewood, and in typical fashion, tells us virtually nothing about the origin of the food, except to note one entree she tried was "organic or free-range chicken." The veal in the meatballs? The New York strip steak? Your guess is as good as mine.


  1. Ung might want to stick to doing some other sort of journalism but food just isn't her thing.

  2. Yes, I agree. She continues to struggle, more than two years into the job. Her star ratings make no sense. Her supervising editor and the copy editors seem to have a hands-off policy regarding her copy. The copy editors on the features desk have long had the reputation of being useless when it comes to food coverage; they bring little or no food knowledge to the job.


Please try to stay on topic.