Last week, I was invited to an exclusive dinner at one of my favorite New Jersey restaurants, Chakra Restaurant, where renowned winemaker Jose Moro of Bodegas Emilio Moro was present to share insight on his highly-rated wines from Spain’s Ribera del Duero. I’ll do a tasting notes post in the next few days, but want to focus on the food for now.
The event began with a “Meat & Greet” reception showcasing Chef Thomas Ciszak’s house-cured Mangalitsa ham. The paper-thin ham slices were earthy and flavorful and had me yearning for a visit to the restaurant’s wine room where the ham is cured. It’s simply delicious.
The first course was a Charred Octopus dish served with boudin noir ravioli. After the meal, someone asked me what my favorite course was, and while difficult to choose one, I think this was it. The octopus was fork tender and offered something most restaurants don’t achieve – char! The boudin noir ravioli was over the top and paired beautifully with the octopus – stellar dish.
The second course was Berkshire Pork Belly with mustard jus and sweet potato gnocchi. Chef Ciszak explained to our group that the gnocchi wasn’t the typical Italian version but one with German influence. The belly was decadent and topped with fried pork skin – truly gilding the lily.
The third course was a masterly-cooked Cote de Boeuf served with red beet quinoa and Kabocha squash. I know I should be concentrating on the perfectly-rare, amazingly-tender beef, but the accompaniments were genius. The quinoa was by far the best interpretation I’ve enjoyed.
The fourth course was a play on a cheese course with a Taleggio Flatbread with pears, foie gras and a red shallot confit. I’ll always pass on standard dessert if cheese is an option and this was a clever way to present it. Chef Ciszak had me at foie gras regardless, but this was a well-conceptualized course.
With wines this lovely, food can sometimes take a backseat, but Chakra managed to create a menu that paired handsomely with the outstanding wines by Bodegas Emilio Moro.
Chakra is at 144 W. State Rte. 4, Paramus (201-556-1530). The special events held at this stylish restaurant are second to none so be sure to sign up for the Chakra newsletter to stay abreast of upcoming events.