RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Five out of five stars

Zeppoli – Collingswood, NJ

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.

A Little Italy in Collingswood

Sapori – Collingswood, NJ

May 2012

Holy Moley Me Oh My!  Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros cannot sing it any better than what I felt after leaving Sapori. To make this review even more exciting, why not find the song and listen to it while you read this.

Chef Franco Lombardo was born in Palermo, Italy and the title of the song lets you know exactly what Chef Franco creates at Sapori  “Home”. Opening a sixty-four seat eatery in an area already heavily populated with Italian restaurants, Collingswood, NJ in 2003 he has recreated a look and feel of his home country Italy here that I am positive is the envy of many interior decorators wishing they could do the same. The only problem is that I am embarrassed to admit that it took me until now to find this oasis of Italy in the Philadelphia region.

Having one of the most amazing authentic Italian meals ever in the States while dining here, I will not even try to explain the explosions of fresh flavors my mouth was able to experience. My party went on a Wednesday evening and decided for Chef Franco to cook us his chef’s tasting menu, which he prepares with only the freshest ingredients that very day, so for me to fawn over what I had as great as it was, I may or may not have that again for my next tasting menu. The entrees went from special stuffed olives, fresh Italian cheeses and meats, an absolutely beautiful rendition of polenta with chickpeas that everyone should make this way instead of cornmeal, fabulous sardines that even converted others at the table who stated they hated sardines, pasta with sea urchins that arrived just an hour or two before we arrived which was the highlight of the menu for me creating a taste I have been craving ever since, one of the best rabbit meals ever served, and then he topped it off with a dessert dish that could make a baker blush with his unbelievably tasty treats.

Chef Franco is an artist in the kitchen, a charming gentleman to meet as he comes to the table occasionally to make sure everything is delicious, and the perfect host by welcoming friends into the beautiful home he has built and wanting you to come back again soon for his next great culinary creation. It took me nine years to come here the first time, but yet I felt like I lost my way from where I truly belong only 9 seconds after leaving Sapori. Chef Franco has created home, and somewhere I will call home much more frequently, so I hope he is ready for more houseguests.

Five out of Five Stars

For more info on the song I quoted and band mentioned: