A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dining at RoCCA, a quaint Italian restaurant in Glen Rock, NJ. After devouring my meal, practically licking the plate, I was sold that this was the new “it” restaurant. You can imagine my surprise when I later learned it has been around for almost 9 years. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before? We’re talking YEARS of missed meals that can never be recouped. Now I’m certainly not an authority on Northern NJ restaurants, but in all honestly (because that’s what you do on blogs…speak honestly to thousands of people you don’t even know) I haven’t been to many that wow me. I LOVE that so many are BYOB, giving us a change to select from our well stocked Brooklyn wine cellar, but often I find the food at these restaurants tend to be mediocre. Nothing creative or extraordinary, and certainly nothing to make a pilgrimage from Brooklyn for. There are a few standouts of course–The Saddle River Inn, Latour, and Esty Street. With both my AND my husband’s family living in NJ, you think I would have gone to RoCCA years ago, but no. I guess they like to save Jersey’s best for themselves.
I loved to cook before Top Chef came around. I was never a fan of cooking shows. The food network annoys me. Sure they’re some good recipes out there, but how can you really learn to make a 4 hour braise (with sides!) in a 27 minute episode. The shows would just frustrate me. But when Top Chef came along, I was immediately hooked. Top Chef doesn’t teach you how to make a recipe, it inspires you to think out of the box, to consider what you would make if faced with some saltine crackers and a piece of fish. Or what dishes would best describe you? Watching the show definitely encouraged me to play with flavors and invent new dishes.