Friday, February 6, 2015

At Pearl Restaurant in Ridgewood, fish dish is more than meats the eye

Chef Vaughn Crenshaw of Pearl Restaurant in Ridgewood crowns wild fish with a fatty pork cold cut in Capicola Crusted Red Snapper swimming in a Chablis Beurre Blanc. On Thursday, the entree came with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes.


Ridgewood probably has more fine-dining restaurants than any other town in Bergen County, but parking is a headache and a couple can easily spend $100 on a modest dinner.

So, not long after I read an inspirational newspaper story about the chef at Pearl Restaurant, LivingSocial offered a deal on dinner for two there.

We drove to Ridgewood on Thursday from Teaneck after we saw "Selma," the disturbing film that revisits the black struggle for the right to vote in the brutal South of the early 1960s.

We arrived a few minutes before the restaurant opened for dinner, but walked in and were shown to a table for four in the window.

Pearl is a seafood and new American restaurant with a regular menu that offers four fish entrees from a local market.

Chef Vaughn Crenshaw also prepares Goffle Road Poultry Farm chicken, pork chops, steak, lobster ravioli and homemade pasta.

Our $40 voucher entitled us to two house salads at $7.95 each, a shared appetizer up to $14.95 and entrees up to $24.95 each.

Our entrees were red snapper ($25.95) and black sea bass ($27.95), two wild-caught fish, and my wife didn't blink when the waiter set down her fillet covered with slices of capicola, a cured pork cold cut.

She dug in. (She eats meat, I don't).

Good food, good service

We loved our food, including the simple salads and a shared appetizer of large Shrimp Dumplings with mushrooms, tomato and ginger ($12.95).

When I asked the waiter what kind of meat topped my wife's snapper, he said it was the more expensive prosciutto, not capicola.

With only a few other tables occupied, the service was efficient, but I didn't care for the waiter's familiarity when he addressed me as "Buddy."

That's right up there on my list of pet peeves with waiters who refer to you as "Boss."

Savings of about $40

The check came to $88.60, including tax of $5.85, and with a $12 tip, would have topped $100.

But in addition to $40 for the LivingSocial voucher, I paid $9.85 (tax and a $4 food supplement), plus the $12 tip, a total of $61.85.

Winter-weather advisory

We parked in a metered lot next to the restaurant, but wealthy Ridgewood doesn't do any better in clearing snow than other communities, so we found buried spaces, uneven footing on ice and puddles of water.

Also, this lot's entrances and exits are on a one-way street. If you don't find a space in one of the rows, you can't always turn around that row and are forced to exit and drive around the block.

Meters are enforced until 6 p.m., and each quarter gets you 30 minutes.

A Shrimp Dumpling in Mushroom Ginger Broth.

Our small House Salads were dressed perfectly in a tasty vinaigrette.

My Pan Seared Wild Black Sea Bass swimming in a delicious Soy Teriyaki Sauce.

Right under my eyes, my wife managed to eat three of the five shrimp dumplings in our shared appetizer.

Extra-virgin olive oil and a creamy, white-bean hummus were served with crusty dinner rolls.

Pearl Restaurant is a BYO with two simply decorated dining rooms.

Pearl Restaurant, 17 S. Broad St., Ridgewood; 201-857-5100. BYO. Open 7 days for dinner only. Parking in lot with meters enforced until 6 p.m., except on Sundays.

Web site: 'As unique as the pearl'

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