Robyn Lane

For The Locals

Food & Cocktail Fabulousness At This Hidden Gem In South Jersey

I belong to many food pages on social media. I have conversed with many like minded people who enjoy new experiences. I have also made a few friends along the way. One of my favorite foodies is Marilyn Johnson. Marilyn is a food & travel writer. This Goddess in the world of food, is the founder of the Philly Grub food blog, and the South Jersey Food Scene page on Facebook. National publications such as USA Today reach out to Marilyn for expert commentary on all things food and travel. . Recently, Marilyn shared a review of an interesting place in Sewell, New Jersey called, Bistro di Marino, a restaurant & bar that also has a location in Collingswood. The review by food writer Mark Matthews of 42freeway.com, gives an update on Bistro di Marino now that they've added a bar. I'm including excerpts from the review with Mark's permission. Mark writes, Opened four years ago in Washington Township, Bistro di Marino Sewell has established itself as a top Gloucester County restaurant destination… and they’ve just raised their game even higher with the opening of a full bar, along with beautiful dining room upgrades! The 10 seat bar features a 16-tap draft system as well as one of South Jersey’s best selection of delicious and inventive craft cocktails. A large communal style bar height seating area is positioned adjacent to the bar. Beyond that the room moves into a seating area of high top tables with nicely cushioned high set chairs. The Bistro also upgraded the traditional dining seating options, bringing in more comfortable and softer chairs. Add in an amazing happy hour menu which runs Monday through Friday (3:00 to 6:00pm) featuring a selection of incredibly priced small plates and drinks, wines and beer… Bistro di Marino is making it clear to customers that this is the place you want to dine at, have a delicious beverage, and an amazing time. Let's see what fabulous cocktails and dishes Mark enjoyed during 2 separate visits to Bisto di Marino. Get ready for your mouth to water. Mark writes: I started off with a Rocky’s Rose cocktail which is a delicious sipping drink of Tequila, Aperol, Rocky’s Botanical and Rose wine. A smooth and delicious version of a tequila drink. Tuna Bites from the happy hour menu featured raw tuna, pears, sesame, cilantro, spicy miso, crispy wontons… For an amazing price of $10. The tuna was fresh and perfectly prepared! The Sicilian Calamari small bite plate was one that just didn’t make sense to me… in that it was clearly more than a small plate based on portion size, and has a significant amount of preparation involved including the Calamari, Cherry Peppers, Capers, Black Olives and Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce. The combination of flavors gave it one of those flavors that has an addictive quality to it. I know more food was coming but I just couldn’t stop eating this dish! And somehow with the variety of ingredients, flavors and preparation… Jimmy is able to sell it for $10 on his weekday happy hour menu! The Blueberry Lemon Drop cocktail from the happy hour menu just took my mind to the backyard of a country farmhouse, sipping that $8 Happy Hour cocktail while looking at the rolling hills in the distance! Another amazing shareable is the Short Rib Arancini. I’m a huge fan of risotto, and this offered a risotto ball stuffed with braised short rib, sharp provolone and topped with a mushroom cream sauce. Now I said I really enjoy the taste of risotto, and the next dish I had may just be the the most amazing and delicious risotto I’ve had in my life. Bistro di Marino’s Lobster Risotto. It… Is… Absolutely Amazing! Clearly the first thing that’s going to grab your attention with the dish is the lobster tail resting on top of the risotto! But then quickly notice that this plate is just filled with a variety of seafood delicacies, all mixed in with the creamy parmesan risotto, with a hint of garlic. The lobster risotto also features jumbo shrimp, scallops and crab meat… wrapped in that creamy parmesan, with a touch of lobster butter! It is another dish that is impossible to not want to devour! Martinis also get the Bistro di Marino creative craft cocktail treatment, and for us that meant a pair of espresso martinis, with one made traditional and another as creamy (which includes Bailey’s for the extra creaminess) After that amazing Lobster Risotto, I wanted to change things up in a completely different direction, while still being in a comfortable area of the menu. Jimmy suggested a “Gnocchi Misto” plate which features your choice of three different varieties of the handmade gnocchi… and he suggested a combination that was absolutely delicious and also represented the colors of the Italian flag! This included the classic gnocchi pomodoro, which of course features homemade Bistro gnocchi served with homemade tomato sauce, fresh basil and pecorino romano cheese. We also had a gorgonzola which is made with a gorgonzola cream sauce and toasted pine nuts. And how about a filet mignon with garlic truffle compound butter, served over smashed fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus? Of course it’s not enough for Jimmy and the team to just put the garlic truffle compound butter on the fillet. Of course it’s not enough that they import the truffles so it’s the most authentically prepared truffle butter…. Nope The waiter comes over to the table with a kitchen torch to melt the truffle butter with a flame, deep into the filet! The filet was the most delicious and tender piece of meat I may have ever eaten. The truffle butter making it’s way into every bite. “What about dessert?” So after experiencing a feast from all areas of the Bistro menu, felt like we needed to go very traditional. Cannoli. A stack of smaller traditional and of course, delicious cannoli. A perfect level of sweetness to the filling. The light crispy crunch. Something I will order every time I am there!   But it seems like cannoli is something you just can’t eat with a dry mouth, right? So the artisan cocktail crafters behind The Bistro bar put together something that was as show stopping as the rest of the meal.. A Tiramisu Cocktail with a flamed foam topping! All of the craft cocktails I had in my visits were amazing, but this one was just the perfect choice for extending the dessert experience. Once I picked up the Tiramisu cocktail, it was literally impossible to put it back down again! Thanks to Mark Matthews for allowing me to share portions of his article and photos from Freeway42.com. Now I need to be friends with Mark. His passionate descriptions of the various dishes & cocktails he enjoyed have me looking at my calendar to see when I'm free to take a road trip from Ocean County to Sewell, N.J. I believe Marilyn has penciled in a day in March to try Bistro di Marino herself. I just may meet up with her. Bistro di Marino 415 Egg Harbor Rd. Sewell, NJ 08080   https://www.instagram.com/p/C2SuTAJvpIq/?hl=en

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