Grato, part of Harvest Restaurant Group, perfects the art of seasonal Italian cuisine. Much like its next door neighbor, and sister restaurant, Tabor Road Tavern, Grato offers a space that’s warm and inviting while trendy enough to attract Morris County’s bold and beautiful crowd.
I recently had lunch at Grato and as the Italian name suggests, I was “grateful” for the wonderful meal I enjoyed.
Upon sitting at their tables, patrons are greeted by the warm staff with grilled Italian bread and olive oil-drizzled smooth ricotta cheese. The use of ricotta cheese in place of the usual butter is a hint of the fabulous food to come.
For starters, Grato offers a generous salumi plate ($14.95) for sharing that features some very nice options like prosciutto, salami, soppressata, pepperoni along with cannellini beans, olives and Italian cheeses. Another great choice for sharing is the bruschetta plate ($11.95) with a variety of toppings like chick pea and olive pesto, eggplant and ricotta, tomato and mozzarella and my favorite, the chicken liver and pancetta on perfectly grilled Italian bread.
Must-try entrée selections are the veal and ricotta meatballs with bucatini in light tomato sauce ($13.95), Grato’s Cioppino ($14.95), the roast chicken and goat cheese tortelloni in brodo and the delicious paninis.
The veal and ricotta meatballs with bucatini is stellar. The meatballs are perfectly tender, moist and flavorful. The light tomato sauce the meatballs simmer in is an ideal match to the rustic bucatini. The Grato Cioppino features fish and seafood with spicy sausage and is hearty yet light enough for lunch. The roast chicken and goat cheese tortelloni is a fabulous dish and the use of broth instead of the typical sauce is smart. There are seven paninis on the lunch menu ($9.95 – $10.95) and all versions are interesting and delicious. Some of our favorites are the prosciutto and mozzarella on ciabatta ($9.95) and the Grato Grande ($10.95) which is made using prosciutto, salami, ham and provolone. All the sandwiches are served with outstanding house-made Giardiniera, pickled vegetables.
The dinner menu at Grato features many of the lunch options but some additional items like the pork ossobucco ($19.95), the veal chop Milanese ($24.95) and the roasted tilapia and cockles ($19.95).
Grato offers a neat wine list focusing on Italian favorites, and more obscure, interesting options from all over Italy. The restaurant serves over 20 different wines by the glass and many affordable options by the bottle.
Grato is a great place for a romantic night out, a business lunch or any occasion in between. Try it, you’ll be “grateful” you did.
2230 State Route 10
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11:30AM – 4PM and Sunday: 12PM – 4PM
Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 4PM – 10PM, Friday – Saturday: 4PM – 11PM and Sunday: 4PM – 9PM
Kabab Paradise is a spotless, attractive restaurant featuring Afghan cuisine for onsite dining, take-out or delivery ($15 minimum).
Chef Sal Fahim and his crew couldn’t be more customer-friendly. Diners are greeted warmly as they enter the restaurant and are treated like extended family as they dine in the cozy space. During a recent visit, I could hear ‘the ususal?’ being asked by the cooks to the patrons. Kabab Paradise has had a loyal following since it set up shop in Morris County in 2004.
A key to this smallish space’s success is that the food is fresh and absolutely delicious. Kabab Paradise offers an extensive Halal menu that’s completely made from scratch. From the very tasty hummus to the hand chopped burger meat to the fabulous kabab entrees, Kabab Paradise prides itself on serving the freshest middle eastern food around.
On a recent visit, my party enjoyed an attractive platter of hummus ($3.99 for small and $6.99 for large), made on the premises. The portion, enough for several diners, is beautifully presented with just the right amount of fruity olive oil.
Some of the entrees we enjoyed were the beef kufta kabab, the mixed gyro platter and the chicken breast kabab. The juicy beef kufta kabab ($9.99) is made of broiled ground beef marinated in fresh spices and absolutely wonderful in every way. The mixed gyro platter ($8.49) is comprised of thinly sliced then chopped beef, chicken and lamb masterly seasoned and presented in a sizeable portion. For those of us who’ve been served dried out grilled chicken on a stick in the past, Kabab Paradise will be a revelation of moist, succulent chicken chunks broiled to perfection. These entrees are presented with a large serving of seasoned basmati rice, a choice of beverage, bread and a tasty, tart cilantro and lime dressing. You’ll want to pour the secretly-prepared dressing over just about everything. Warning – it’s addictive and you’ll dream of your next taste.
Kabab Paradise is a must-try for a casual meal prepared using fresh ingredients by a team focused on making diners think of their next visit even before they finish eating.
76 North Beverwick Rd
Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
Tue-Thur: 11AM – 10PM
Fri-Sat: 11AM – 11PM
Sun: 1PM – 9PM
Tasserts, in Florham Park, opened its doors in 2003. Not a derivative of ‘desserts’, Tasserts is a combination of ‘Natassia’, the chef’s daughter, and ‘Robert’, his father, the unassuming restaurant in a suburban strip mall, is a Morris County gem that shines bright.
The room is trendy, a bit retro and comfortable with its high-back banquettes and dimly-lit atmosphere.
The wait staff is friendly, gracious and effective, and is quick to offer advice about the “New American” seasonal menu.
New Jersey-born chef, Michael Lapinski, creates an outstanding Manhattan-caliber menu . Dinner begins with freshly-baked rolls, right out of the restaurant’s brick oven. Yes, these are simple rolls, but they are absolutely perfect in every way. The only downfall of having one, or three, of them is that it might interfere with the fact that the rest of the food to come is also outstanding.
Winning starters are the tuna Carpaccio – fresh fish with great flavor, the flatbread pizza – baked to perfection in the brick oven and fit for sharing, and the lobster cake – nice rendition of its sister, the crab cake .
As far as entrees are concerned, an interesting way to explore chef Lapinski’s menu is to opt for the three-course plates, where diners select three entrees from the menu which are then served as tasting portions on a plate. Great option for those who can’t commit to just one entree. On a recent visit, I chose the lamb, short ribs and the scallops and was very pleased with each dish.
Overall, Tasserts serves up great New American food and interesting preparations. Note that this restaurant is a BYOB, so bring an exciting wine to pair with the creative food served at Tasserts.
176 Columbia Turnpike
Florham Park, NJ 07932