Sunday, February 22, 2015

Avenue Bistro / Verona, NJ

Avenue Bistro

558 Bloomfield Avenue
Verona, NJ 07044

Continental Cuisine
Open for lunch Wednesday thru Saturday
Open for dinner 7 Days
Sunday Brunch

Full service bar
Sunday Brunch
Daily specials
Municipal Parking Lot behind the restaurant
Takes reservations
Hosts parties
Patio dining in warm weather

We headed down to Verona on the coldest night of the year, so the parking lot behind the restaurant was much appreciated. Once inside, we warmed up nicely, knowing we were going to have a good dinner.

Chef Michael DiIonno gained local fame a few years ago when he won the championship spot on the TV Show “Chopped.” But we were already well-acquainted with his culinary skills as he was our chef years ago when we owned the Huddle Inn. When Michael first joined us, our business changed overnight. Suddenly diners were lining up at the bar two or three deep waiting for a table. Since those days, this chef has owned two of his own restaurants, one in Chatham and one in Livingston.

DiIonno’s wife, Patty, serves as hostess. She has nicely decorated the two dining areas in black and white art deco style with soft lighting and attractive art on the walls. There’s a separate area for the full-service bar in addition to the main dining room and a smaller and quieter side dining room.

One of us began with the Caesar Salad with croutons, which is the house salad and a long-time favorite of ours. The lettuce was crisp and nicely broken into bite-size pieces, the dressing was light and delicious, and the croutons were tasty and crunchy.

Caesar Salad
The other one of us started with the Mushroom Soup which he said was the best he’s ever had. The soup was beautifully seasoned, generously filled with mushrooms, and not overly creamy.

Mushroom Soup
The menu offers quite a few selections, so we had a hard time making up our minds. We were torn between several entrees. But finally one entree we selected was the Lobster, Shrimp, and Scallops in Newburg Sauce over Fettucine. This was a very generous dish with lots of seafood and a very good sauce.

Lobster, Shrimp, and Scallops Newberg
Our other entree was Diver Scallops, pan seared, in a candied ginger sauce, served with white rice, and roasted, seasoned carrots. We would have liked something other than the plain white rice, but very much enjoyed the scallops and carrots.

Diver Scallops in Candied Ginger Sauce
Then onward to dessert. We feel like we’re not really doing our job if we skip dessert. We are both fans of Bread Pudding, a dessert that few restaurants offer, so we were excited to find it on the menu at Avenue Bistro. On the night we were there, the flavor of the homemade pudding was butterscotch. No more thinking necessary! We ordered that and were not disappointed by the warm butterscotchy pudding drizzled with butterscotch sauce and topped with whipped cream. This is not a dessert for sissies or dieters.

Butterscotch Bread Pudding
Our other dessert was Cookie Pie. This was also served warm so that the chocolate melted and mixed happily with the vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Cookie Pie
Although we’d been putting off our restaurant visits lately due to snow and freezing temperatures, we were glad we ventured out to Avenue Bistro. We encourage you to do the same. Don’t wait until spring.