Zeppoli – Collingswood, NJ
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like to hear Mozart play for the first time, watch Michelangelo paint one of his masterpieces, witness Einstein figure out an equation, or be the first person to repeat any of the famed one-liners that so many people love so much from Benjamin Franklin. They must have been magical moments in history, and Chef/Owner Joseph Baldino of Zeppoli is serving up his take of what the culinary world will remember of him.
Zeppoli is situated in a tiny strip mall on Collings Avenue, and when I say tiny strip mall I mean TINY. They are also located outside of the main section of Collingswood on Haddon Avenue know as restaurant row. With them situated away from the hustle and bustle of the regular town and hosting in such a tiny location that only seats a maximum of thirty-five guests, the feeling of dining here truly feels exclusive and special, especially with the perfect ambiance and décor they have chosen.
I am not going to go into detail of what each dish tasted like or their nuances as I do not want you going there as saying “Oh, I did not taste this or taste that like he said”, but what I will tell you is that the meal was perfect on every level for me personally. The two extreme highlights were the Gamberetti e Fagioli which would be a crime not to order as an appetizer and as odd as it may seem; the other knock my socks off surprise moment was my beverage of choice, Sicilian Orange-Blossom Lemonade. With Collingswood being a dry town, no one should have to even think about consuming alcohol with a drink as tasty as that one is. Bravo, great job!
Now I am not the only who has witnessed Chef Baldino’s talents. Zeppoli was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. This is truly an honor to be nominated, and he has created something fantastic and unique in a small and cozy South Jersey town. I only see bigger and better things for Chef Baldino, as he deserves the recognition for the excellence he has created.
Should you go there ASAP? YES! Without a doubt, Zeppoli is a gem and culinary destination for South Jersey and the execution presented here is heads above most around the area and even Philadelphia.
Should they expand their empire and would this experience be the same elsewhere? I do not know, but I think given the proper tools and location, I have confidence Chef Baldino could make culinary magic work anywhere. In its current state though, Zeppoli works perfectly as it stands and everyone needs to experience it there.
FIVE out five stars
Below are the pictures of the meal:
Bread and Olive Oil mix, Sicilian Orange-Blossom Lemonade, Gamberetti e Fagioli, On the house sampling of Gnocchi alla’ Argentiera, Tagliatelli al Limone with Sicilian bottarga, and Coniglio Pizzaiola.