One of the greatest joys of preparing entries for The Kosher Scene blog has been meeting the talented seasoned restaurateurs and chefs along the way. Sol Kirschenbaum, owner of The Pasta Factory (1400 Palisade Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666, Telephone: 201.837.1000) and former partner of Levana’s has just an amazingly vast knowledge of the kosher restaurant business. Sol’s also an incredible wine connoisseur; he loves his reds especially those from the lesser known Israeli wineries; his many years in the fine kosher dining business and vast experience with what makes for fine food, were just the recipe for a great evening of food talk and tasting.
It was one of those freezing, weather is frightful, 20°, teeth chattering, winter nights. Chef Chase Sanders prepared a lovely Roasted Truffle Butternut Squash with Basil soup. This creamy soup had just the right blend of sweetness and the basil overtones were delicious; and it was hot.
Appetizers followed. We split the Grilled Chicken Quesadilla, tender bites of grilled breast with tricolor salad and balsamic dressing. The combined flavors and crispness of the quesadilla were flavorful and authentic. The second appetizer was a Lamb Merguez Pizza with arugula, olives, capers and shallots drizzled with Tahina. This dish demonstrates Chef Sanders adaptive and creative talents in executing an authentic Mediterranean dish modified to meet the strict standards of the kosher cuisine. It looked great, the tahina resembled drizzled cheese, and the combination of flavors really worked!
At some point, someone brought us two great glasses of wine. I had a Dalton Safsufa Cabernet Sauvignon, very solid and flavorful, while CS had a Herzog Selection Merlot, also quite good. At this point my feet were thawed and I was ready for the main course.
The waiter brought out a Crispy Breast of Chicken with asparagus risotto, seasoned with preserved lemon. I’m still a little floored as to how he made simple chicken taste so good, (must be that special ingredient he adds to his dishes; (see our little piece on Chef Sanders that will follow next week, if you want to find out), but it was simple and savory. The risotto was cooked to perfection and I loved the asparagus accent; gave it great flavor. CS had a fabulous Skirt Steak marinated in molasses and shallots. He reluctantly gave me piece to taste, (South Americans are so possessive with their beef), and the blend of flavors was terrific. Presentation on all our dishes was simple and elegant
I’m really dating myself here, but does anyone out there remember “Felix the cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat. Whenever he gets in a fix he reaches into his bag of tricks.” Well… let me tell you about Pasta Factory’s dessert chef, Felix. Forget tricks, this man is a magician. His desserts taste sinfully milchig – dairy…oh…the creams….the chocolate…. the mousse…the taste….oh my! We were served a flourless Triple Chocolate Cake and a dish of Butterscotch Cream. I was gonna have to pay for this with an additional forty laps in the pool next day, but it was all well worth the calories. Pastry Chef Felix’ 14 years of experience at the 4 Seasons really showed in his presentation and mouth-watering desserts.
The Pasta Factory has a warm brick interior, a lovely quiet ambiance suitable for family and one on one dining. They are also the only kosher restaurant in Bergen County with a liquor license. They boast a diverse, exciting menu of delicious food, and beautifully served ample portions. Enjoy. We certainly did.