I had dinner with family recently at Tre Piani, my first visit in a while, I blush to admit. To the left you see a photo (sorry it’s not better) of the entrée that three of the four of us had, lamb from Neptune Farm, an organic farm in south NJ, prepared three ways, roasted (shoulder I think), a loin chop, and a fat nugget of spicy sausage. Our fourth diner also enjoyed her whole branzino, fileted tableside. These were specials of the evening, and delicious! We were also treated to an assortment of cold antipasti, marinated mushrooms, endive, fabulous roasted peppers, etc.
The lamb was offered with mashed sweet potato, but I opted for sautéed chard with cherry tomatoes instead, and was further rewarded with some tiny roasted potatoes and also some cauliflower. Tasty and good for you. And I believe all of it was from New Jersey!
Owner/Chef Jim Weaver has long made a big point of obtaining as many ingredients as possible from local and organic sources, and thanks to his tireless work to improve awareness and distribution of such foods, he can construct a lot of his menu from local ingredients now. We owe him so much for his life’s work (and he’s still young!), and I’m looking forward to the release (next year I gather) of a book he is writing for Slow Food. that will tell us about this journey.
I know a lot of restaurateurs talk the local talk these days, but Jim also walks the talk, and has remained remarkably true to these core values (stated on the top of his brand new menu), which I can assure you is not easy in this economy.
The new menu is full of local references – Barnegat tuna, local flounder, Oak Grove polenta, Griggstown Chicken, and cured meats from Salumeria Biellese in New York. From elegant (breast of Hudson Valley Moulard) to homey (ricotta gnocchi alla “Jersey Carbonara”), the new menu sounds fantastic, so I’ll be sure to go back soon.
And don’t forget Thanksgiving at Tre Piani – our family has really enjoyed that the last couple of years, since Jim roasts Bourbon Red heritage turkeys. And, oh, those Cape May Salt oysters he always has on his menu. He helped save those from extinction, by getting them on the Slow Food Ark of Taste, the first U.S. item to receive that honor. A world of thanks to Jim, and to his wonderful staff for their hospitality, too.