L’Oceano Ristorante – Collingswood, NJ
I find one of the hardest types of restaurants to enjoy is seafood. When going out to eat at a seafood restaurant, just like visiting a steak house, you know you are going to be paying quite a bit more money for your meal than at other places before you even see the menu. Now this would not be a problem if these types of establishments served quality meals the majority of the time as I do not mind paying a premium for good food, but I find it is quite the opposite and I leave angry and hungry most times. Well thankfully, L’Oceano Ristorante (LR) had me wondering when I would be back the second I stepped out the door. Let us start at the beginning of my visit with my order of Stuffed Clams.
These were the appetizer special of the night. They were very similar to Clams Casino with a few changes such as a few different cheeses in the mix and some baby shrimp thrown in for good measure as well. I liked the different spin they put on their dish, and it had a high-end feel rarely seen in clam dishes, so the night started off well. Next up would be the Stuffed Trout accompanied by a side of broccoli rabe. .
LR’s stuffed trout dish highlights New Jersey’s state fish the Brook Trout. They put farm raised Brook Trout, stuffed it with balsamic glazed caramelized onion compote, wrapped in prosciutto, and served over wilted greens and a rosemary cream sauce. I do not know who asked for Brook Trout to be named the state fish of New Jersey, but I know if I had a say in the manner, after eating LR’s version of this fish I would want my state to be know for such a delicious morsel as well. I just might have to get a fishing license and try to catch a few for myself. Everything was heavenly from the onion compote being delicious, to the greens sautéed to perfection, and the cream sauce adding that final flair of fantastic flavors to compliment the dish. I can not say enough good things out this dish. The only complaint would be that the fish was burnt on one side, but with it being wrapped in prosciutto, the prosciutto protected most of the flesh and caused the fish meat to just stick just a tad to the prosciutto. As if things could not get any better, LR topped it off with the broccoli rabe. Seasoned beautifully and cooked just the way I like it, LR really made my meal go from great to extraordinary.
LR had one major downfall. The prices they state on their website were not what were shown on my receipt. I do not know if the website needs to be updated or if my server charged incorrectly, but overall this caused a twenty dollar increase with everyone in my party meals accounted for with the higher prices. Even with that being said, I was very surprised and happy after leaving LR. The service was so friendly and you can tell it is mostly being run by family. The interior is decorated nicely and it is an intimate spot allowing you to watch your meal be made and brought right to you. I visited LR on New Years Eve with my wife and one year old son. With this being said, a meal at a restaurant on a holiday usually equates to a less than stellar experience with large crowds, long waits, and so-so food being rushed out. Not so at LR, so for that I was even more impressed. If they can produce the service and quality of food coming from the kitchen on a busy holiday night, I can only imagine the magic and experience they provide a guest on a slow night.
Four and Half Stars out of Five