NJ Eats: The Belmont Tavern

There’s really nothing better than some old school Italian comfort food. The Belmont Tavern in New Jersey is just about the most comfortable comfort food you can find this side of Naples. What appears to be a quiet nondescript local bar in Belleville, NJ opens up into a bustling restaurant, with families and couples warming themselves over a plates of macaroni in a dimly lit wood-paneled nooks. There’s a gruff but very friendly staff, and a cast of characters at the bar directly out of “The Sopranos.” Shoot.. I even saw Furio’s signed headshot on the wall.

What to get: The Belmont Tavern is a family style restaurant with big bowls to share for the whole table. Start with a carafe of wine, the shrimp “Beeps” (fried shrimp in spicy marinara sauce) and the clams oreganto; then the cavatelli with “Pot Cheese” and an order of the dangerously spicy sautéed hot peppers. Finish with the Chicken Savoy and some espressos. Bread and escarole salad for the table is included.


Clockwise: Chicken Savoy, Shrimp “Beeps,” Clams Oreganto, and Cavatelli with Pot cheese.

Pro Tip: Get there early on the weekend! There will be a crowd. Please note: special thanks for the tip Paulie G!

Belmont Tavern, 12 Bloomfield Ave, Belleville, NJ 07109

Manhattan Eats: Puff Cha

What are Puff Chat? Two things: A Thai Curry puff specialist on the west side of Manhattan, and a sort of a cross between enchiladas, croissants and samosas.

Below are my freshly ordered (and neatly packaged) Puff Cha: Original curry, crab rangoon, basil, pork, beef, chicken:

I actually thought that despite the description on the menu, these curry puffs were the least similar to empanadas. They were super light and flaky, like croissants but with a decidedly Asian flavor spectrum. (They also came with a little saucer of peanut dipping sauce on the side). When selecting your Puff Cha, definitely go with a broad selection, and at least six of them. The winners in my opinion were the beef and the crab rangoon.
The spicy pork ramen was also really delicious and lived up to its spicy description, don’t be tempted to adjust the spice level, there’s definitely no need for any additional Sriracha in this bowl.

An easy way to to cool off a post-ramen inferno; order a Thai iced-tea with some super sweet and rich condensed milk. Proof!

Puff Cha 457 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

Matunuck Oyster Bar

Have you ever eaten oysters fished directly from the bay and shucked directly onto your dinner plate? The Matunuck Oyster Bar in Kingstown, Rhode Island actually farms its oysters right in front of the restaurant. You can enjoy a cocktail and an ocean breeze as they shuck your oysters straight out of the bay.


A fantastic raw shellfish sampler. This is the perfect match with an icy cold dry martini. The clams were briny, the oysters were ice cold and tasted like the deepest ocean water, the shrimp cocktail was perfectly tender.


The raw bar troops ready for action.


A dirty martini and some raw shellfish, a perfect match.


Clams in butter, white wine, and linguine. In the back, really REALLY delicious jambalaya.


Poached and chilled lobster, with all the appropriate implements for cracking and smashing.

Matunuck Oyster Bar 629 Succotash Road South Kingstown, RI 02879