Sunday, July 14, 2013

Big changes are under way at Bel Posto in Hackensack

Vermont Farms Pork Chop with Cipollini and Shishito Peppers at Bel Posto in Hackensack. The fine-dining restaurant has a new chef and a new, Tuscan-inspired menu, as well as a new sushi bar.

An appetizer of Spanish Octopus served over mashed potatoes.

By Victor E. Sasson

A new chef and menu at Bel Posto in Hackensack aren't the only changes at the fine-dining restaurant set amid Prospect Avenue's high-rises.

The new management also has hired well-respected Japanese sushi Chef Yoshiharu Suzuki, who worked wonders for more than 16 years at Wild Ginger/Wild Nigiri in Englewood.

Suzuki is creating "Sushi World at Bel Posto" from  behind a new sushi bar in the formal dining room.

His sushi also is available to go in the restaurant's Gourmet Pantry. 

The dining room and bar, rear, at Bel Posto, which means "Beautiful Place."

Yellowfin Tuna with Vegetable Caponata and Olive Tapenade.

The barely cooked fish was extraordinary.

An appetizer of Creamy Stuffed Mozzarella and Prosciutto di Parma.

A bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir was $28.

Wild and natural

The restaurant's old Italian Continental fare didn't have much appeal to me.

But the new executive chef, Florence native Paolo Nozzoli,  is offering a Tuscan-inspired menu with aged cheeses, handmade pastas, wild-caught seafood and naturally raised meat and poultry.

Our dinner on Thursday night started with appetizers of tender Spanish Octopus for me and Creamy Stuffed Mozzarella with Prosciutto di Parma for my wife ($14 each).

Great ingredients

Our entrees were Vermont Farms Pork Chop ($23) and a loin of Yellowfin Tuna ($26).

The quality of the ingredients shined through each dish. 

I ordered the tuna medium rare, but this was one time when I was happy the chef delivered it rare.

Sushi World

I spoke briefly with Suzuki, the sushi chef, who said he has parted ways with restaurateur Charles Hamade.

After Wild Ginger/Wild Nigiri closed, they opened Bushido Bar and Restaurant in Cliffside Park at the end of 2011. 

The restaurant, which eventually served pizzas alongside Japanese fare, has closed.

Today, Hamade said he is back on Palisade Avenue in Englewood, working to open another U Pie Company, the pizzeria that followed Wild Nigiri and a failed Mexican restaurant.

He plans to have a raw bar in the new U Pie Company, which will replace the old Sol and Sol next to It's Greek To Me.

A table for two.

New Bel Posto

The new Bel Posto menu begins with spuntini or snacks, including prosciutto, aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and mixed olives.

Entrees include organic chicken and grass-fed hanger steak.

For $49, we had purchased an online Travelzoo voucher for a meal valued at $100.

That allowed us to select 2 appetizers for up to $14 each and 2 entrees for up to $26 each. We also received a $20 wine credit.

I ordered a $28 bottle of Pinot Noir from New Zealand (we took home half of it).

At the restaurant, we paid an additional $29.55: $8 for the wine, a $21 gratuity and 55 cents tax.

Our gracious host on Thursday was Eric Betley, the floor manager.

Bel Posto, 160 Prospect Ave., Hackensack; 201-880-8750. Lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Open 7 days. Free valet parking.

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