The Princeton Sports Bar & Grill – The New Celebrity Hot Spot

Recently the hubs and I were invited to the Grand Opening and VIP party at The Princeton Sports Bar & Grill. We were thrilled to be invited and be one of the first to check out a new pub in one of our favorite towns, Princeton, NJ.

Many of you may remember The Princeton Sports Bar & Grill as Sotto Ristorante or even The Annex. Boy has it changed. Owner John Procaccini added 15 hi-def flat screen TV’s around the bar, so you will never miss a game. Finally there’s a sports bar in town! It’s the perfect place to grab a drink after work, watch a game and for of-age college students to hang out.

Energy filled the room at the VIP party. Outstanding appetizers were passed around. I especially liked the buffalo shrimp. We also tested out the crab fries with cheese which were delish as well.

Dan the bartender - "The Best Bartender in Mercer County"

While there, I dubbed Dan the bartender as “The Best Bartender in Mercer County”. First of all I must say that Dan makes a mean dirty martini, but what we loved most about him was his personality. Dan was so full of life, what you want your bartender to be. He was personable, fun and mingled with the customers. So often we go out on the town and the bartenders are just miserable and lack a personality. Not Dan! Dan really is the man at The Princeton Sports Bar & Grill.

Besides finding “The Best Bartender in Mercer County”, our night was filled with a few other surprises. We ran into Doug Palmer, former Mayor of Trenton.

Doug Palmer, Former Mayor of Trenton

Ed Tseng was also there in high spirits signing his book “Game. Set. Life.”

Ed Tseng

To top the evening off, we chatted it up a bit with famed Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West.

Dr. Cornel West

Talk about a party! We had some night out!

So head on over to The Princeton Sports Bar & Grill, tell Dan I sent you. Dress your best, because you never know who you might run into.

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Trattoria Dopo Teatro

Recently the hubs and I were visiting the city (New York City that is) and planned to have lunch at Trattoria Dopo Teatro. We did a little research online and this spot was near where we were going to be, the menu looked scrumptious and priced just right.

For an appetizer we ordered the Eggplant Campanada which consisted of eggplant, olives, capers, pine nuts. It was a great mix of sweet and tangy.

For our main course, we shared the Dopo Teatro pizza which is mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto and truffle oil. It was out of this world! My husband and I debated as to whether it was the best pizza we ever had or not. I’ve realized recently that I’m a huge fan of truffle oil.

For dessert we shared the profiteroles, which are similar to a cream puff but instead of cream inside it’s vanilla ice cream with tons of chocolate sauce. They came as a pair, so it was perfect for sharing.

We will definitely go back there again if we are in the area.  I’m dying to go back to try their Gorgonzola e Pere pizza. The ambiance was super cute and you felt like you were in a quaint Italian restaurant in Italy. The servers, the owner and even some customers spoke Italian. It wasn’t over priced and the food was truly spectacular. It’s always fun when you find a hidden gem.

Fried Pickles in LBI

Recently the hubs and I headed over to Daddy O, a restaurant in Long Beach Island. I heard they had fried pickles and needed to test them out.  My husband ordered a beer and I ordered the “O” Cocktail, which tasted more like “Oh bad decision”. It tasted like cough syrup. I sent it back and asked for a Pinot Grigio. We then ordered their beef sliders, truffle French fries and of course the fried pickles which I came for. The sliders were nothing special and they were way too large. Not bite size at all. The truffle fries were out of this world and the fried pickles were a little disappointing. They basically cut a whole pickle in half, and fried it. The pickle was too big and the breading came right off. I would have preferred them to use sliced pickles (like for a sandwich) and then fry them. They would have been bite size and similar to the delicious ones I once had in Florida. We received the bill and I was a little shocked that we were charged for the first drink I ordered but had sent back, but not the glass of wine (which was cheaper). Not that we’re cheap, but the server did take it back no problem but charged us for the more expensive of the two. It’s not a place we need to visit again, but at least I won’t go without saying I should have tried those fried pickles.

The Boston (Bahston) Getaway

After the craziness of the holidays, along with the hubs birthday and the fact that I had a few comp days, we decided to take a long weekend in Bahston (Boston). We decided on Boston since the hubs is a HUGE Cheers fan, beer aficionado and history buff. We started looking into hotels and found The Bulfinch Hotel which seemed like a cute boutique hotel right in the center of it all, and the price was right. (*Note to all and to self, you get what you pay for.) We couldn’t wait to get to Boston and see the history, drink the beer and just enjoy each other’s company. As always, I developed a full on itinerary of where we will be visiting, eating, etc. along with our reservation times and address. I’m a little crazy like that.

Thursday – We drove through a blizzard, arriving late (according to my itinerary) to our destination, The Bulfinch Hotel. We pulled up in front of the hotel next to the valet parking sign. We waited and waited. Finally I got out of the car and went inside to say “We’re here and we are parked right outside by the valet sign, now what?” The gentleman looked up from his iPhone and said “Valet parking means, unload your stuff, drive to the stop sign, turn left and turn left again, park in the parking garage and walk back”. Hmmm… I mean I knew people in Boston had accents, but didn’t realize that not only  the pronunciation of words were different, but so were the definitions. I walked back to the car, told the hubs. We brought our stuff in and he walked up to the gentleman and said so now what do we do? His reply was “Like I told your wife, blah blah blah”. Ok not off to a great start. We have Mr. Personality at the front desk and have to park our car, walk, etc. We finish unloading, the hubs goes to park the car I turn to check in and the gentleman is now on the phone. So I wait. And I wait. My husband returns asking if I checked in and I say nope he’s been on the phone the whole time. Other people are now waiting in the lobby. Finally a gentleman named Corey comes out from behind a wall, he was early to work and able to help us all. We finally check in. Later on that evening we expressed our concern with the way we were handled during check in to Corey who assured us he would forward the information to his manager Liz. We had lunch at the Cheers Replica bar which had surprisingly good food. Took a nap and then headed to dinner at Turner Fisheries which was great. The food and service were wonderful. The maitre’d even walked us through the hotel to show us where we could catch a cab. What service!

Friday – We woke up to get ready and realized we have no hot water in our shower. Grabbed lunch at the Union Oyster House which is the oldest restaurant in the US. Of course we had to grab a cup of Clam Chowder (or chowdah). Went about our day, did the Boston Super Tour which was a fantastic way to see the city and I highly recommend it. So did @BostonTweet. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you should. He is the be all and end all of everything you need to know Boston. I felt like he was my own private virtual concierge. One of our stops was the Original Cheers Bar, so of course we had to grab a drink. We did some shopping and then got ready for our dinner at Lucia Ristorante. Lucia Ristorante is on Hanover Street in the Italian section of Boston. It is the spot for Italian food. Everything we ordered was out of this world and all made to order. Our server’s recommendations were right on. I ordered a chicken dish and the hubs ordered the veal chop special. Even the coffee was wonderful. We will definitely be back there next time we are in town. At some point during the day, we met John the manager of the Bulfinch. He came over to meet us at the bar since we had chatted with them on Twitter. Turns out someone else does their Twitter, but big deal. (Oh forgot to mention… they promised us a special treat at check in for being a Twitter follower, yea that didn’t happen.) We told John about our experience checking in the day before and he seemed to feel bad, kinda.

Saturday – Another cold shower. I called to order room service for breakfast. They offer room service, but they don’t put menus in the rooms so you have to ask for one at the front desk. I wanted to order a waffle, but their waffle maker was broke. They were also out of a lot of wine the night before and waiting for a shipment. We ended up ordering their continental breakfast which was yogurt (which arrived not as described), bagels and coffee. It arrived after an hour and without sugar for the coffee. So the hubs went down to get me some. We ventured over to the Sam Adams Brewery by subway (super easy) and had a great lesson on the history of Sam Adams and beer in general. The hubs loved this part of the trip. We even ended up sitting with a guy who shared a birthday with the hubs. Crazy right? We travelled over to the Freedom Trail and grabbed a bite at The Purple Shamrock. Had a great reuben. Our arms were heavy from shopping and were carrying a number of bags. We went up to our room at The Bulfinch Hotel and guess what? Our keys don’t work. None of them. Luckily there was a phone in the hall so we called the front desk. Liz the manager came up and tried other keys, nope they didn’t work. She tried using some special machine, didn’t work. Finally she got us in. She went back down to the front desk to get another machine. She played around for a while on our door and finally was able to get keys to work in our room. Time for a nap! We rested and got ready to have dinner at The Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Let me just say we almost stayed there. Every President has stayed at the Fairmont Copley Plaza and most of them have eaten in the library of The Oak Room. The place is beautiful! We were ushered in and brought to the far back room, the library. It was quaint, charming and elegant. I put my purse on the floor and our server Pasquale said “wait let me get you something for your purse”. I thought he was going to come back with one of those purse things you clip on to the table so it’s not on the floor. He came back with a beautiful ottoman for my purse. I had a chair for my purse! The service was impeccable, the food was good but overpriced. You pay for the ambiance and the service there. But it was a great way to end our trip.

Sunday – We checked out and headed home. I messaged The Bulfinch Hotel on Twitter to let them know of our disappointment, but no reply.

Since then I have tried to reach out to them, but not only does the hotel have “great customer service” but so does their Twitter consultant who blocked me from writing them.

Word to the wise… you get what you pay for, not everything is what it seems, if it seems too good to be true… it probably is. Don’t stay at the Bulfinch Hotel. There are plenty of amazing hotels in Boston that are so much better, have better customer service, prices and hot water. Oh and valet does mean valet everywhere else in Boston.

Doubly Happy at the Double Tree & On the Bone Princeton

Double Tree Hotel – You’ll be doubly happy!
By: Katie DeVito
Follow me on Twitter @kdevito

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Princeton Chamber of Commerce Trade Show. As I walked out the door I said to my husband, maybe I’ll win a raffle (although I never have). I had a great time at the trade show and during the Tweet Up they held a raffle. My name was the first name called and I won an overnight stay at the Double Tree Hotel Princeton and $100 gift certificate for On the Bone (the restaurant attached to the Double Tree).

Our one-year wedding anniversary was soon approaching. What a perfect opportunity to experience the newly renovated Double Tree and check out On the Bone steakhouse. I booked our reservation and anxiously awaited our Princeton staycation.

When we arrived at the Double Tree, we were pleasantly surprised by the lobby décor. We heard they recently renovated the hotel, but had no idea it would be so trendy chic. Juan Soto greeted us at the front desk. He was also the Front Office Manager on duty as well as the General Hotel Manager for the evening. When you think customer service doesn’t exist anymore… head over to see Juan at the Double Tree. He was fabulous!

We got our keys and headed up to our Parlor Suite room. We walked in and the room had not yet been cleaned. I immediately picked up the phone to call the front desk, while it was ringing, someone was knocking on our door, and it was Juan. He apologized for the inconvenience and moved us across the hall. We settled in and made ourselves some Wolfgang Puck coffee and relaxed in our Parlor Suite. The suite consists of a living area with a couch, table to eat, and TV. The bathroom is great, and even includes tons of Neutrogena products. Even special facial moisturizer with SPF 15. How great is that? The bedroom was beautiful, it also included a TV, a really cool alarm clock and a leather bench to sit and put shoes on at. I can’t tell you how comfortable the bed and pillows were. Apparently guests can even purchase them if they so chose. That should tell you just how comfy it is.

We took a nice long nap and then got ready for our anniversary dinner at On the Bone Steakhouse, which is attached to the Double Tree. We walked up and gave our name to the hostess but told her that we were going to sit at the bar for a cocktail first. Nick the bartender made me a killer extra dirty Grey Goose martini and my husband had his signature Johnny Walker Black.  The bar was packed!

We went back up to the hostess after our drinks to be seated. The décor in On the Bone is very stylish and trendy. As soon as we sat down I noticed that the menu and silverware all had the same silver imprinted design. The people next to us over heard me say that it all matched and they said they go there all the time and never noticed. We ended up chatting with them and go to On the Bone almost once a week for their American Kobe Beef Burgers; they love them and say they have the best in the area.

Our server Caitlin came over to take our order. We ordered two glasses of Cabernet, a shrimp and chorizo sausage dish as our appetizer, a 6oz. filet mignon and the On the Bone filet mignon. The shrimp and chorizo sausage app was great and plated with a drizzle of a BBQ/Chipotle sauce and a lime mousse. Both of our entrees were cooked to perfection. I ordered the 6oz. filet mignon, which came with fresh vegetables, and I ordered loaded baked potato. With all the fixins of course! Is there any other way? My husband had the On the Bone filet mignon, which is exactly that, on the bone, with their vegetables and french fries. Most of the restaurants dishes are served “on the bone” hence their name. As many of you foodies out there know, when meat/poultry etc. are left on the bone it adds a lot more flavor to the dish. We were both completely satisfied and stuffed with our meal. But it was our anniversary so we had to divulge in some dessert. It was the right thing to do. We ordered a slice of their chocolate cake.

After dinner we went back to our room and were greeted by 2 small plates of dessert, champagne and a note from Juan. What a nice way to end the evening!

I woke up the next morning very relaxed, I loved their bedding. We truly enjoyed our stay at the Double Tree Princeton and will recommend it to out of town guests.

A week or so later we headed back to On the Bone after a Clarence Clemons book signing to try out their Kobe burgers. They were out of this world and they come with killer onion rings. I think we are going to be regulars at On the Bone.

Perfect Penne Gorgonzola with Chicken

The hubs and I are a little partial to alfredo, especially my roasted garlic alfredo. However, we both love gorgonzola, so I thought let’s try something new. This dish is “off the hook” or ridiculously good.

 

Here’s the dish:

 

What’cha need:

1 pkg. penne pasta

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large garlic clove minced

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup chicken broth

5 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (optional)

 

Cook pasta according to package. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in the olive oil. Once browned a bit, add the garlic and cook a minute longer. Add the broth and loosen up any brown bits. Add cream. Cook til sauce is slightly thickened (it doesn’t get that thick) and chicken is fully cooked. Stir in the gorgonzola cheese, salt and pepper. Cook til cheese just melts.

 

Drain pasta. Put pasta in a dish, pour some tasty sauce over it. Add some parmigiano-reggiano if you want and dig in.

 

This dish is super easy and super tasty. It’s definitely a repeat meal.

 

ps. The hubs loved it too!

It’s Not Just Texas Chili

After years of experimenting with a wide array of chili recipes from books, websites and word of mouth, I am proud to say my search for the perfect chili has ended. All thanks to a little wedding gift I received called “Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook” by Mary Corpening Barber & Sara Corpening Whiteford. I’ve been talking it up for a while now, so I figured I should pass along this killer recipe to all my friends.

If you are like me and prefer a more soupy chili rather than one that’s totally chunky and has no sauce… you’re search too has ended. This chili recipe is so unbelievably flavorful and feeds an army. Ok maybe not an army but it will totally feed a Boy Scout troop, no doubt.

I typically make my chili in the morning or early afternoon and let it sit so that the flavors develop even more. Before I’m going to serve it, I just heat it up for a few.

Here’s the dish on Texas Chili:

Whatcha Need:

1 Tbs. Bacon Grease or Vegetable Oil

2 Medium Yellow Onions, chopped

3 Tbs. Chopped Garlic

3 Tbs. Chili Powder

2 Tbs. Paprika

1 Tbs. Cumin

2 Tsp. Dried Oregano

1 lb. Ground Beef Chuck

1 lb. Italian Sausage Links, removed from casings and crumbled

2 Tsp. Kosher Salt, plus more as needed

2 cans (28 oz, each) Crushed Tomato Puree

1 can (15 oz.) Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) BBQ Baked Beans, drained

1 Tbs. Minced Canned Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, plus more as needed

Heat the bacon grease (or vegetable oil) in an 8 quart heavy bottomed stockpot over medium heat. (I always use vegetable oil.) Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and stir until the spices are well combined. Add the ground chuck, sausage and 1 tsp. of the kosher salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the meat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt or chipotle chiles if necessary (I add a bit more of the chiles).

Serve the chili with some of these fixin’s:

Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Chopped Green Onion

Sour Cream

Crumbled Corn Chips/Tortilla Chips

Red Pepper Flakes

Chopped Jalapeno Chiles

Cornbread

This recipe is so tasty that you really don’t need any fixin’s at all, but it does make a lot. So if your not making this for a big crowd, you will have tons of leftovers and might want to switch things up a bit by adding some of the fixin’s for your leftovers.

I like it best with some shredded cheddar (my hubby prefers no fixins) and we either dip tortilla chips in it or eat it with some cornbread.

This is a great dish to bring to a World Series Party, Superbowl Party or to a Potluck Dinner. We like to have it on a cold rainy “stay inside” weekend while watching shows we DVR’d during the week, movies or re-runs of our fave 80’s shows.

 

Enjoy and let me know what you think. I’m certain that your search for the “perfect” chili has now ended.

 

Do you follow me on Twitter? @kdevito